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Members of Congress Join Public to ‘Confront Corruption, Demand Democracy’ at White House Candlelight Vigil

July 18, 2018

Members of Congress Join Public to ‘Confront Corruption, Demand Democracy’ at White House Candlelight Vigil

D.C. Event Is One of Nearly 200 Nationwide in the Wake of Trump’s Meeting with Putin, 12 New Indictments in Mueller’s Russia Probe

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Hundreds of activists joined members of Congress to hold a vigil outside the White House this evening to confront the open corruption of the Trump administration and demand immediate solutions to fix our democracy. The D.C. activists’ vigil was amplified by nearly 200 similar events in 39 states and Puerto Rico attended by thousands of Americans nationwide.

Through songs, speeches and a moment of silence to recognize the human cost of corruption on people’s lives, hundreds of attendees recommitted to protecting Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia and to promoting reforms to strengthen democracy.

President Donald Trump’s public attacks on American intelligence agencies in Helsinki on Monday, which followed the indictments of Russian agents in the Mueller probe, have sparked a new level of outrage among Americans. The never-ending stream of ethics violations by Trump and many of his appointees, allies and family members has generated a regular cry of condemnation by good government groups.

“With a backdrop of systematic disenfranchisement of voters and an influx of secret and corporate money in our elections, the need to gather in solidarity for democracy has never been clearer. Our culture of corruption blocks progress on substantive issues that matter in people’s lives such as access to well-paying jobs, affordable health care, and clean air and water, and as such we stand together to demand a system that works,” said Lisa Gilbert, vice president of legislative affairs for Public Citizen.

“Americans are fed up with the corrupt behavior of this administration, and demand a democracy that works for everyone, not just the privileged and the powerful” said Rio Tazewell, Government By the People campaign manager at People For the American Way. “These vigils demonstrate that Americans are paying attention, and we won’t let Trump and his allies pretend they’re above the law. And we’re not going to allow the Senate to confirm someone who says the president is above the law to a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court.” 

“There is a reason we have one party, minority rule in America, and isn’t the result of democracy. It’s corruption. Big money in politics, attacks on voting rights and pure contempt for the rule of law — it’s time for Americans to stand up for the interests of individuals and fix the failures of our democratic system before it’s too late,” said Justin Hendrix, organizer for March for Truth.

“Monday’s private Trump-Putin meeting is exemplary of the poison Trump represents to our democracy,” said David Sievers, MoveOn campaign director. “We know with certainty that Putin’s military launched a cyberattack on the U.S. to help Trump win the 2016 election. But instead of meeting with Robert Mueller, the man leading the investigation into that attack, to tell him everything he knows in the hopes of making sure Putin isn’t able to do it again in November, Trump publicly puts Putin’s word that they didn’t do it over findings of his director of national intelligence. We’ve got to work together to respond to this crisis.”

“Americans are restless and concerned with the current state of our democracy. It is time that they reminded their elected officials that they are watching closely and they will hold lawmakers accountable,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause. “Recent events from President Trump’s fawning summit in Helsinki with Vladimir Putin and congressional attacks on the Mueller investigation to redoubled voter suppression efforts and swelling secret money political war chests have all served as reminders that Americans need to make their voices heard in the public square and at the ballot box. These attacks on our democracy, while deeply damaging, have reawakened the democratic spirit across our country.”

“Make no mistake: Trump’s treason is not only bad news for democracy in America, but for all liberal democracies that Putin continues to attack,” said Alice Stollmeyer, executive director of Defending Democracy. “America is not the only country being attacked by Russia. The Kremlin has been waging a so-called hybrid war against many European countries too. The only way to defend against and deter Russia’s efforts to undermine democracy is a stronger, transatlantic response. American and European citizens stand united in demanding their governments to defend democracy.”

“Our democracy is under attack, from abroad and within. By siding with a foreign adversary over the American people, we saw clearly in Helsinki that Donald Trump is not just a national embarrassment, he’s a national security threat,” said Sean Eldridge, founder and president of Stand Up America. “It’s now up to the American people to stand up for the truth, our democracy and the rule of law.”

“What we witnessed in Helsinki has exposed, only to those who wished to ignore before, the tip of an iceberg.” said Tania Maduro, co-mission director of Democracy Spring.  “And underneath the tip is a whole system of corruption. It is within our own country that a small percent of people have relentlessly worked to corrupt our government, just so the few can stay in power and in wealth. For too long, the people’s voice has been silenced by big corporations and the richest of the rich. The people’s voice has been systematically restricted, purged and barred. It is time to confront corruption, not just abroad, but within our own country. We demand a democracy that will truly include and be accountable to all of us.”

“For too long the wealthy and powerful have used our government to enrich themselves at the expense of everyone else. The Trump administration has taken this corruption to a new level, and we’re here to say enough is enough,” said Adam Smith, communications director for Every Voice. “It’s time for our elected officials to take action to create a democracy that works for all of us.”

“Americans’ faith in our system and government is at an all-time low. They know our elections are vulnerable to outside influence, whether it’s from corporate interests or foreign governments — threatening the very foundation of our democracy,” said Tiffany Muller, president of End Citizens United. “These vigils demonstrate the power of people to send a message that we must protect the integrity of our democracy so that it works for all of us.”

“The right-wing attack on our democracy threatens the most basic elements of our representative system of self-government. From efforts to marginalize and silence the most vulnerable communities through voter suppression and gerrymandering, to the influence of big money special interests in our elections and policy outcomes, it’s clear that our democracy is under attack. Tonight’s vigils signal a response to this crisis call for democracy,” said Chris Tallent, national campaign director for MAYDAY America.

Groups that participated in the vigil included act.tv, Alliance for Democracy, American Constitution Society, American Family Voices, Blue Future + the Youth Progressive Action Catalyst, Center for American Progress Action Fund, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Common Cause, CREDO Action, Daily Kos, Defending Democracy, Democracy 21, Democracy for America, Democracy Spring, End Citizens United, Every Voice, Franciscan Action Network, Greenpeace, Herd on the Hill, Hip Hop Caucus, Lawyers for Good Government, March For Truth, MAYDAY America, MoveOn, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National LGBTQ Task Force, Need to Impeach, Pantsuit Nation, People Demanding Action, People For the American Way, People’s Action, Protect Democracy, Public Citizen, Represent.Us, Revolving Door Project, Stand Up America, The Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights, The Loyal Opposition, Tikkun & the Network of Spiritual Progressives, Unitarian Universalist Association, United To Amend, Wolf-PAC.