Some of President Obama’s former staff are taking on Donald Trump over his unethical behavior. So they’ve formed the new group United to Protect Democracy to fight the Trump team.
Some of the lawyers that worked for former President Obama are worried about Trump abusing his power. These are some of the same lawyers that help draft the rules of conduct for the Obama administration.
They’re afraid that the Trump administration will break some of these rules against politicizing the government.
They took the name from Obama’s farewell address that urged supporters to pick up where he left off. The group is moving fast, raising $1.5 million for their operations and hiring 5 staffers.
This group isn’t fighting deportations or travel bans, though. They’re focused on the administration’s intervention and intimidation of regulatory agencies.
It’s a large problem to be sure. Trump and his lackeys have already pressured the National Park Service and the EPA to shut up about climate change.
The group’s leader Ian Bassin commented, “When people hear concerns about democracies declining into authoritarianism, they expect that moment to come in a singular thunderclap where everyone can see that this is the time. In reality, often times, democracies decline over a period of years that happen through a series of much smaller steps.”
Many of those “small steps” are already happening. So Bassin and his team are starting to fight back.
They’ve begun their fight by submitting 50 Freedom of Information Act requests this week. They’re looking for evidence that the Trump administration has violated ethics rules.
Once they have that proof, they’ll submit their findings to the press. They’ll also pressure Congress to act and, if necessary, file lawsuits to stop the Trump administration’s misconduct.
They also want to serve as a safe haven for government whistleblowers. To that end, they’ve set up a website as a resource for government employees concerned about ethics violations.
Bassin has a lot of experience in ethics law and is the right man to lead this fight. He was an associate White House counsel during Obama’s first three years in office and specialized in ethics questions.
He’s hiring lawyers with similar experience for his team. Bassin said, “As people who had the privilege of serving at the highest level of our government, we understand those guardrails, where people might come up against them and what the tools are that we have as private citizens to hold our government accountable.”
The new team isn’t just gearing up to fight small infractions either. They’re also concerned about large abuses of power, such as when Trump attacked the judge who halted the Muslim travel ban.
So Bassin and his team are making a plan for how to fight Trump if he openly defies a judicial ruling. They’re debating what steps to take when Trump causes a constitutional crisis.
No other non-profit is set up to fight Trump on these issues. Please share this story on Facebook if you support United to Protect Democracy and the work that they do.