Students walk out to protest Donald Trump
Students walk out to protest Donald Trump

Six months ago, there were so many ques­tions that need­ed answers:

  • Would any­one heed the U.S. intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty’s ear­ly warn­ings in 2016 that Rus­sia had inter­fered with the U.S. Pres­i­den­tial elections?
  • Would any­one inves­ti­gate how and why Russ­ian sur­ro­gates had per­pe­trat­ed cyber attacks on Amer­i­can insti­tu­tions and individuals?
  • Would any­one demand thor­ough back­ground inves­ti­ga­tions of the Pres­i­dent-elec­t’s White House senior nation­al secu­ri­ty appoint­ments – espe­cial­ly those not sub­ject to Sen­ate con­fir­ma­tion – before issu­ing top secret code­word clear­ances to these individuals?
  • Would any­one have the sta­mi­na to demand the Pres­i­dent-elect and his fam­i­ly ful­ly dis­close their finan­cial stakes in a far-flung, glob­al real estate cor­po­ra­tion, includ­ing all finan­cial investors tied to for­eign gov­ern­ments or for­eign interests?
  • Would any of us have the endurance to keep up the pres­sure on our elect­ed offi­cials to pro­tect our rights under the rule of law?

Six months lat­er, here’s the line-up of inves­ti­ga­tions under­way as of May 13th in var­i­ous Con­gres­sion­al com­mit­tees and at the Fed­er­al Bureau of Inves­ti­ga­tion (FBI).

And six months lat­er, we have learned how to stand up and speak out against unlaw­ful Pres­i­den­tial exec­u­tive orders, a deeply con­ser­v­a­tive Supreme Court nom­i­nee whose judi­cial phi­los­o­phy is cor­po­ra­tiz­ing Amer­i­can pol­i­tics, pro­posed elim­i­na­tion of the Patient Pro­tec­tion Act, cat­a­stroph­ic bud­get cuts to agen­cies that pro­tect peo­ple and the envi­ron­ment, and a Pres­i­den­tial pen­chant for mak­ing per­son­al attacks against cur­rent and for­mer fed­er­al civ­il ser­vants – with late-night tweets his pre­ferred deliv­ery method.

What will the next six months reveal?

We must now demand fol­low-through from the Con­gres­sion­al com­mit­tees. Con­gres­sion­al com­mit­tees are the only ones with the pow­er to hold pub­lic hear­ings. We, the peo­ple, not only have a right to know.

We have a need-to-know. We are the vot­ers and no mat­ter what, we need to know that our nation’s lead­ers are not putting our right to self-gov­ern­ment at risk.

Con­gress must keep inves­ti­gat­ing and hold pub­lic hear­ings to the max­i­mum extent fea­si­ble. Some of the com­mit­tee chairs and vice chairs are per­sis­tent despite obstruc­tions by Speak­er of the House Paul Ryan and Sen­ate Major­i­ty Leader Mitch McConnell – both of whom are com­pet­ing for the role of the cow­ard­ly lion in the twen­ty-first cen­tu­ry’s ver­sion of the Wiz­ard of Oz. It’s time for Ryan and McConnell to do their jobs now. Or step aside for peo­ple who will.

The new spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor lead­ing the FBI inves­ti­ga­tions will do his work – but just like water finds its own path, inves­ti­ga­tions will take their own course. Some inves­ti­ga­tions will lose steam. Trails of evi­dence will go cold.

The FBI’s inves­ti­ga­tions will be behind-closed-doors efforts; it will be easy for those of us on the out­side to lose track of the situation.

That’s why we need con­gres­sion­al com­mit­tees doing their work in pub­lic. When both the leg­isla­tive and exec­u­tive branch­es are work­ing in par­al­lel, it helps us – the vot­ers – have con­fi­dence that one way or anoth­er, some­one will dis­cov­er the facts and reveal the results of the investigations.

A final word about nation­al and inter­na­tion­al secu­ri­ty, alliances, coali­tions, net­works, friend­ships, and relationships.

The next six months will strain all bonds. They will strain our nation’s deep­est, old­est rela­tion­ships with oth­er nations as well as more recent ties forged after the end of the Cold War. We’re all going to be rid­ing the waves of an admin­is­tra­tion that has no moral com­pass, one that lurch­es from moment to moment in pur­suit of per­son­al grat­i­fi­ca­tion and pet­ty pow­er plays.

So we must reas­sure our own allies, friends, and pro­fes­sion­al col­leagues that we’re stand­ing strong even as Don­ald Trump goes rogue.

I am stand­ing up for our rights as a free peo­ple to main­tain alliances, coali­tions, net­works, friend­ships, and pro­fes­sion­al rela­tion­ships with every nation and every per­son who share our tra­di­tions, cul­tures, and com­mon inter­ests in a more equal, just, and free world.

I am stand­ing up for the rights of a free press, our only pro­tec­tion against those in pow­er who abuse pow­er and dis­tort infor­ma­tion to serve their own interests.

I am stand­ing up for the rights of peo­ple every­where to fight for clean air, clean water, clean food; access to hous­ing and edu­ca­tion­al oppor­tu­ni­ties; the dig­ni­ty of work in work­places where they earn a good wage to feed their fam­i­lies, pay for health­care, save for retire­ment, and take vaca­tions with fam­i­ly and friends.

I am stand­ing up for the rights of peo­ple who are the most vul­ner­a­ble, who have no voice to influ­ence the peo­ple in pow­er, and whose lives and lib­er­ties depend whol­ly on those of us who will fight to pro­tect the social con­tract because “there but for the grace of God go you or I.”

I am stand­ing up for the rights of stu­dents to enjoy study-abroad stu­dent exchanges so that they will make friends with peo­ple who speak oth­er lan­guages, know oth­er cul­tures, have dif­fer­ent his­to­ries, and want to expand free­doms and rights for all people.

I am stand­ing up for the rights of immi­grants to choose a new home and forge a new life for them­selves and their fam­i­lies. As a fourth-gen­er­a­tion Irish immi­grant, I still believe that nations of immi­grants are nations that learn how to adapt to change and learn how to solve big challenges.

I’m stand­ing up for the rights of the two mil­lion Amer­i­cans who work in fed­er­al civil­ian agen­cies and serve in the armed forces.

They are the peo­ple who make it pos­si­ble for us to be a self-gov­erned nation where insti­tu­tions serve the peo­ple, not the regime in power.

I am stand­ing up for a future where the Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States upholds our nation’s com­mit­ments to our own peo­ple and to our allies and friends, and where the Pres­i­dent accepts the respon­si­bil­i­ty of serv­ing every American.

And I am stand­ing up for a future where the mem­bers of the Unit­ed States Con­gress renew their devo­tion to the Amer­i­can Repub­lic and hon­or their sin­gu­lar duty to pro­tect the rule of law which gov­erns our land.

To every read­er who has made a com­mit­ment to be part of the resis­tance: Thank you and keep up the good work. Stand strong. We’re all in this together.

About the author

Gael Tarleton is an NPI Advisory Councilmember and former Washington State Representative who led two Russian subsidiaries during the 1990s and lserved as a senior defense intelligence analyst on Soviet strategic nuclear programs at the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency from 1981-1990. She served on NPI's board from its inception through 2021.

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