Never mind his inauguration crowd size or his claims to be "a very big person when it comes to the environment", or even his false claims about "voter fraud". Don't be distracted by what Donald Trump says. Pay attention to what he does. To that end, while folks were debating his "alternative facts" on the crowd size at his inauguration, the new Administration was busy shutting down the Twitter accounts and ability for federal employees to communicate with the press and public at the Department of Interior, the National Park Service, the EPA and other federal agencies.
While claiming to be a champion for the environment this morning, he then signed an Executive Action to move forward with approval of the dirty and dangerous KeystoneXL and Dakota Access Pipelines by the afternoon.
While the new President continued to pretend that millions of illegal votes were cast in the 2016 election (even the New York Times called it a "Lie" in their headline!), he and his supporters fought successfully to stop the post-election "recounts" in all three states where evidence of such illegal votes — if it actually existed (it doesn't) — might have been revealed.
While the Administration claimed last week that their work wouldn't begin until Monday, their new Dept. of Justice leadership was taking action on Inauguration Day to undermine a long-standing lawsuit against Texas' unlawful Photo ID voting restrictions. Yes, Republican Trumpers understand the importance of voting laws and procedures — even when it's not an election year. Do Democrats and progressives?
Julie Ebenstein, staff attorney at the ACLU Voting Rights Project, joins us to explain what exactly the Trump DoJ did on Friday in the Texas case and what it may signify for that case and others like it, what it all may mean for the future of the currently-gutted Voting Rights Act, and how the ACLU and other private plaintiffs plan to continue the fight for voting rights with or without the Trump Administration's DoJ on their side.
"There's certainly concern that DoJ will shift and no longer take the same positions that it's taken in the Texas and North Carolina cases — and a lot of concern for future cases, for future protection of people's voting rights," Ebenstein tells me. "If the Department of Justice does not provide and enforce the same robust protections of the Voting Rights act, it's diluting the already scarce resources that are out there to challenge these laws." But, she vows, "we'll continue to do the work we've always done. There are certainly cases where private organizations like the ACLU will go forward without any Department of Justice involvement. We're going to keep doing what we do, no matter what we see coming."
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