Welcome to “The Brief,” a monthly roundup of Democracy Forward’s latest work to hold the Trump administration accountable. Read on below for news of our victories, newest filings, latest case updates, and resources to learn more.
Happy Halloween. Let’s be honest, our current reality is already pretty ghastly — a resurging global pandemic, climate change, and of course, the nightmarish damage the Trump administration’s done in less than four years…
We safely celebrated a masked and physically distanced Halloween, but here’s a treat delivered right to your inbox: three brand-new lawsuits combating the Trump administration’s unlawful tricks and plenty of updates on how we’ve been holding this horror story of an administration accountable.
Even the president can’t ghost federal law 👻
Last week, the Trump administration finally released an unclassified version of its long-overdue War Powers Transparency Report.
We filed suit in June to compel release of the report on behalf of Protect Democracy and Lawfare’s Benjamin Wittes and Scott R. Anderson when President Trump ignored a federally mandated March 1 deadline to publish the report.
This vital report is crucial for understanding how Trump interprets his own authority to use military force without Congressional authorization. Without the War Powers Transparency Report, Congress cannot effectively consider, analyze, debate, or act to modify the scope of the president’s authority and military engagements.
Now, it shouldn’t have taken a lawsuit for the Trump administration to publish this legally required report, but we’re pleased our legal action has prompted the White House to make this public disclosure.
Curious what’s in the report? Our partners at Lawfare broke it down and provided their analysis: Forcing President Trump to Comply With the Law
“The report itself is short, concise, and—despite some snippets of new and interesting information—almost certain to disappoint… But in many ways, this is unsurprising and ultimately beside the point. Our goal was to use litigation to force the president to comply with a war powers reporting obligation he was choosing to ignore. And the result is the rebuttal of Trump’s implicit claim that he is free to ignore the law and keep essential information secret on how the U.S. engages in questions of war and peace, even where Congress directs otherwise.”
The stakes are still too high to stop fighting 🧛♂️
Requesting the court stop USCIS from unlawfully obstructing permanent residency pathway for TPS immigrants
Just last week, we asked a court to block the Administration’s unlawful termination of a long-standing USCIS practice allowing Temporary Protected Status recipients a pathway to permanent residence status. We did so in our lawsuit on behalf of seven TPS beneficiaries and the Central American Resource Center against Ken Cuccinelli, Chad Wolf, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the Department of Homeland Security.
This roadblock to a more secure future comes as the Trump administration is moving forward with plans to eliminate protections for TPS beneficiaries entirely, meaning status for some beneficiaries could be stripped as soon as April 2021.
In new court filings, the TPS beneficiaries detail their strong ties to their communities, explain the harm Ken Cuccinelli’s unlawful policy has caused them, and request the Court grant a nationwide injunction to stop USCIS from continuing this new policy that blocks their path to lawful permanent residency.
If Trump and his unlawfully appointed lackeys at DHS are allowed to continue, thousands of TPS beneficiaries with prior removal orders will be barred from obtaining a green card and might soon face the risk of removal to countries that they hardly know or long ago fled out of fear for their own safety.
This is a looming threat that demands immediate legal action. And this Hallow’s Eve, we’re seeing them in court.
President Trump’s personal intervention to appoint Michael Pack as head of the U.S. Agency for Global Media and Pack’s drastic acts in office — like stripping senior officials of their authority and outright firing several news chiefs — raises serious concerns about political, pro-Trump interference in the work of the independent news agency. Pack’s tenure threatens to undermine the journalistic standards of an organization that oversees federally funded broadcast outlets (like Voice of America) and other media programs abroad.
We requested records to expose whether Pack’s drastic policy and staffing changes are part of an effort to facilitate pro-Trump propaganda and undermine journalistic integrity.
When USAGM failed to respond to our FOIA request, we filed suit to uncover the truth.
Young Invincibles and a coalition of groups led by the Shriver Center and Planned Parenthood filed amicus briefs in support of the only legal challenge to the Trump administration’s wholesale, unlawful sabotage of the Affordable Care Act (our challenge!).
The amicus briefs were filed as the cities of Columbus, OH, Baltimore, MD, Cincinnati, OH, Chicago, IL, and Philadelphia, PA push back against the Trump administration and ask the court to set aside the government’s cruel 2019 Rule.
This is the last scheduled filing from the plaintiffs before a federal court will rule on the cities’ challenge to the administration’s years-long efforts to sabotage the ACA.
Interior Department’s slimy anti-immigrant pitches to Fox News
“Perry Pendley views immigration as one of the biggest threats to public lands… Illegal immigration is a threat to the environment…”
We can’t make up this stuff that the Trump administration’s Interior Department pitches to Fox News… but we can expose it for what it is —
Slimy coordination between Trump admin comms shops and right-wing media outlets, seeking to broadcast anti-immigrant nonsense and praise unlawfully appointed officials.
Our investigations into potentially illegal propaganda in the Trump administration have revealed the spokesperson for the unlawfully appointed Bureau of Land Management head William Perry Pendley’s spokesperson Carol Danko selling Pendley as a “passionate, hard-right… controversial… really dynamic” guest “protecting” public lands from immigrants.
And there’s plenty more where that came from because our propaganda investigation isn’t over.