Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) has signed off on a letter being sent to Attorney General Merrick Garland urging that former Pres. Donald Trump “be served justice to the fullest extent.” The letter is part of a petition drive by the No Dem Left Behind Political Action Committee (PAC), asking people who have held national-security clearances to add their names.
The letter was authored by Maj. Richard Ojeda, U.S. Army (Ret.), the PAC’s national spokesman. Lieu confirmed the addition of his name to the letter in an email to TYT.
In the letter, Ojeda refers to his former security clearance, writing, “When we gain our clearance, we do so with the recognition that if we reveal those secrets, our country has the right to punish us. This is a status we must bear in good faith and good will for America.”
Ojeda told TYT he received varying levels of security clearances during his service in Iraq. Ultimately, Ojeda said, he was cleared for top-secret information as chief of operations in the 20th Airborne Engineer Brigade during the Iraq War.
Lieu was a longtime reservist with the U.S. Air Force Reserves, retiring last year with the rank of colonel. He previously did four years of active duty with the Air Force, where he was part of the Judge Advocate General Corps.
Ojeda, a former state senator in West Virginia, made national headlines running for Congress there in 2018 as a full-throated progressive and has remained politically active since. He said that, “the packet you must fill out to get these clearances is as thick as any novel you have ever read and one mistake is all it takes for them to say ‘no’.”
In the letter, Ojeda writes for those who’ve had to get such clearances, saying, “Any one of us knows that imprisonment is a possibility for breaking our oath. Which is why we’re angry that our former President Trump thinks he is above the law. How many thousands of us are true to our word? My fellow vets and I served this country through far more treacherous situations than any he’s ever been in.”
When he heard about the documents, Ojeda said, “It infuriated me.” He said that when Trump ““gave Jared [Kushner] and Ivanka a security clearance, that was a big red flag to us in the community that has held these [clearances].”
Ojeda said he has approached others in Congress who went through the clearance process for access to America’s secrets, including Reps. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), a fellow Iraq War veteran, and Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), a former CIA case worker. At the CIA, Spanberger’s biography says, “she worked at home and abroad to collect intelligence, keep our country safe from terrorism, and inform policymakers in their national security decisions.”
No Dem Left Behind PAC Exec. Director Hassan Martini said the three-year-old PAC was formed “to help candidates really reach out in rural communities.” He said “the vast majority” of the more than $1.5 million in their budget “come from grassroots donations… Our average donation is $27.”
This year, the PAC is backing incumbent Sens. Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), and Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Martini said, as well as Democrats in open Senate races, including Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D-PA) and Reps. Val Demings (D-FL) and Tim Ryan (D-OH).
“Our whole thing is deep canvassing,” Martini said, “knocking on doors, talking to folks.” In the course of the PAC’s work, he said, “One of the things that we found, when we’re discussing policies and issues in large parts of the country and rural areas, there’s a very strong kinship with our military and rural communities.”
For that reason, the issue of security clearances “really hits home for our veterans and police,” Martini said. “When they take the oath, they take that very seriously. Not just them but their family members.”
When Trump took the documents to Mar-a-Lago, Martini said, “All of those factors were thrown out the window in a way we’ve never seen before in our nation’s history.”
Jonathan Larsen is TYT’s managing editor. You can find him on Twitter @JTLarsen.