Protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller and future special counsels from being fired without cause.
The problem: We need to strengthen the law to prohibit Special Counsels from getting fired without cause — including by the person they’re currently investigating.
Law enforcement must be completely independent of political influence — and we must take steps to ensure the integrity of ongoing federal investigations.
That’s why President Trump’s frequent threats against Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the Department of Justice’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election are alarming.
According to multiple news reports, President Trump has attempted to fire Mueller during the course of the probe, and there is no telling what he will do as Mueller continues this needed investigation.
To protect the investigation, Congress must pass legislation to protect the independence of Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation from any interference from President Trump.
There is already strong bipartisan support for this legislation in Congress, but it must be a priority for every member of Congress in 2019.
Require the President and Vice President to be subject to federal conflict-of-interest laws.
The problem: President Donald Trump has refused to sell his businesses after taking office — opening the door to major conflicts of interest.
Americans expect their leaders to be held to the highest possible ethical standards — and we deserve leaders who are only acting in the public interest, not to enrich their own private wealth.
However, President Trump owns more than 500 companies and properties from which he has refused to divest. Some state and local government officials, as well as visiting officials of foreign governments eager to curry favor with the president, are fattening the profits of Trump’s hotels and resort properties, especially the Trump International Hotel near the White House, by providing them with business.
President Trump is defying the Constitution’s two “Emoluments” clauses. The Domestic Emoluments Clause bars the chief executive from receiving payments or things of value – other than his salary – from federal, state or local governments. The Foreign Emoluments Clause prohibits the president from accepting any profit, gain, or advantage from foreign states without the consent of Congress.
Congress must fix this problem by applying the federal conflict-of-interest laws, which apply to all other senior government officials, to the President and Vice President.
Require presidential candidates to publicly release their full tax returns for the three most recent taxable years.
The problem: President Donald Trump has refused to release his tax returns — which leaves critical questions unanswered about his potential conflicts of interest and ties to Russia, among other issues.
The American people deserve answers about the business dealings and assets of those who seek to lead us.
Donald Trump broke with decades of bipartisan precedent by refusing to release his tax returns during his presidential run (and refusing to place his assets in a blind trust after winning). And there are already plenty of examples of him and his family personally profiting from the presidency.
If we let Trump — or any other candidate — conceal his tax returns, Americans will be completely in the dark about their potential conflicts of interest and ties — or whether they paid taxes at all.
We deserve to know the President’s background, experience, and business interests. The President conducts the people’s business from the highest office in the land — so we deserve to see how they have conducted his private business too.
Congress must use its power to force Trump and anyone else who runs for President to release their tax returns.
Require Supreme Court justices to be bound by a judicial code of ethics, as all other federal judges are.
The problem: The Code of Conduct for United States Judges doesn’t apply to Supreme Court justices, opening the door to conflicts of interest or misconduct on the highest court.
We expect all public officials to abide by high ethical standards. Americans entrust Supreme Court Justices with enormous power, but they are not above the law. They should be required to abide by the same ethics rules as all other federal judges.
That means following strict standards meant to preserve judicial impartiality, avoid potential conflicts of interest, and making sure that judges obey the law and serve the American people.
Congress should pass legislation to ensure that one, transparent standard applies to all federal judges, including those who sit on the Supreme Court.
Maintain, strengthen, and expand the independent Office of Congressional Ethics to provide more accountability for the ethics process that would otherwise be left entirely to Members themselves.
The problem: Some House Members have tried to dismantle the independent watchdog agency meant to uphold Congressional ethics rules — and there’s no independent oversight at all in the Senate.
The U.S. House of Representatives used to “police” itself, only letting Members file complaints for ethics violations, and allowing them to serve as fact-finder, judge, and jury.
After several scandals, the House of Representatives created the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), an independent ethics watchdog, which accepts complaints from concerned citizens and organizations, in 2008.
However, the OCE has faced repeated attacks from Members of Congress, and the first legislative action that House Republicans took in 2017 was to severely curtail the OCE.
Thousands of Americans spoke out and stopped them — but because the OCE must be renewed every two years, lawmakers will have another chance to gut ethics oversight in 2019. It’s time to pass legislation to make the Office of Congressional Ethics permanent.
We must continue to strengthen and protect this independent ethics office so we don’t return to the days of letting the fox guard the hen house. We must make the OCE permanent, and create a similar independent watchdog for the U.S. Senate, to ensure lawmakers act ethically.