If you’d like to take a deep dive into Trump’s inner circle beyond Bannon and Sessions, check out Politico’s Playbook Power List. It provides a useful guide to 30 key players in DC — both individuals and organizations — who have the power to influence Trump’s presidency.
There’s a lot to dislike about Jeff Sessions, the new Attorney General who was once deemed too racist to be a federal judge. Alongside the probability that he’ll use the Justice Department to undermine rather than support civil liberties, it’s important to note that he’s one of Trump’s key policy advisors. He and his staff played key roles in drafting many of Trump’s executive orders during his first weeks in office, including the refugee ban. The Washington Post has a good overview of Sessions’ policy influence.
Jack Moore at GQ reviewed a recent NYT article on Trump’s first two weeks in office, and caught this remarkable paragraph:
For the moment, Mr. Bannon remains the president’s dominant adviser, despite Mr. Trump’s anger that he was not fully briefed on details of the executive order he signed giving his chief strategist a seat on the National Security Council, a greater source of frustration to the president than the fallout from the travel ban.
As Moore noted,
There are only two options here. Donald Trump either read this executive order and did not understand what placing Steve Bannon on the National Security Council (especially at the expense of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the director of national intelligence) would mean, which is terrifying … or Donald Trump didn’t read the executive order that he signed.
Trump’s dislike of reading has been well documented throughout the campaign.
Are you feeling concerned about how Trump’s policies will affect you or your family? Check out the useful resources listed at Proactive Steps. The site offers links and advice for people facing a wide range of challenges under the new administration, including people in same-sex marriages, trans people, immigrants, and people seeking reproductive healthcare.
The other reason I find the “Trump is Hitler” narrative distracting is that it encapsulates many people’s fears about and strong dislike towards the Trump administration — but doesn’t actually point to any concrete action to take in response. Activism is most successful when it focuses on specific, actionable policy changes. Here’s a list of six regulatory and legislative changes that Republicans have proposed this week, via Berkeley PhD student Susanna Berkouwer. Pick one and call your Congresspeople about it today.
- Trump fires all Ambassadors and Special Envoys, ordering them out by inauguration day.
- House brings back the Holman rule allowing them to reduce an individual civil service or political appointee’s salary to $1, effectively firing them by amendment to any piece of legislation. We now know why they wanted names and positions of people in Energy and State.
- Senate schedules six simultaneous hearings on cabinet nominees and triple-books those hearings with Trump’s first press conference in months and an ACA budget vote, effectively preventing any concentrated coverage or protest.
- Trump breaks a central campaign promise to make Mexico pay for the wall by asking Congress (in other words, us, the taxpayers) to pay for it.
- Trump threatens Toyota over a new plant that was never coming to the US nor will take jobs out of the US.
- House passes the REINS act, giving them veto power over any rules enacted by any federal agency or department. For example, if FDA or EPA bans a drug or pesticide, Congress can overrule it.
Are you interested in making a charitable donation specifically to irritate one of Trump’s Cabinet nominees? Donate Bigly has identified a range of progressive non-profits which each nominee probably dislikes. They also provide contact information for each nominee, so it’s easy to make a donation “in honor of” that person. Support the ACLU in honor of Jeff Sessions, or the National Urban League in honor of Ben Carson, and they’ll hear all about it!
The Women’s March on Washington is planned as a protest of Trump’s inauguration, and will be held on January 21 near the US Capitol. If you can’t make it to DC, other Women’s Marches are being planned around the country. Look up “women’s march [your state]” to find another near you. Men and non-binary folks are also welcome, of course!