A group of lawyers that worked for President Barack Obama are working on what they’re calling a “worst case scenario,” for fear that Donald Trump and his team will (continue to) abuse their power.
This group, calling themselves United to Protect Democracy (after a line Obama used in his farewell speech) helped the Obama White House craft and hold to rules of conduct. They believe President Donald Trump and his staff will break ethics norms meant to guard against politicization of the government.
The group has already raised a $1.5 million operating budget, hired five staffers and have plans to double that in the coming months. They’ve incorporated as both a 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4), which would allow them to operate as a nonprofit but participate in some forms of political advocacy at the same time.
While other Trump opponents focus on taking the president to court over the travel ban and deportations, the new group plans to drill into issues that aren’t already hitting the headlines, like potential intervention in and intimidation of regulatory agencies by West Wing staff.
“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,” said Ian Bassin, who’s leading the new group. “In reality, often times, democracies decline over a period of years that happen through a series of much smaller steps.”
They started by submitting 50 Freedom of Information Act requests this week that they believe will confirm their suspicions. The plan is to bring what they find to reporters, build it into pressure for congressional oversight with the help of a campaign director they’ll hire, and, as necessary, to file lawsuits.
They’re also hoping to establish themselves as a base for government employees worried about ethics violations — up to and including becoming whistleblowers — and are hoping that their website, https://unitedtoprotectdemocracy.org/,can become a resource.
Now, here’s the funny part (make sure you don’t have anything to drink in your mouth when you read this)…
Sean Spicer, responding to the group’s formation, said, “This administration has raised the level of ethics training and oversight to a new level compared to the practices of the previous administration.”
Wait. What? Oh Sean, you poor thing. I think what you meant to say was “this administration has lowered the bar of presidential ethics to a point not seen since Nixon and before him, Harding.” It’s like they think we’re as stupid as they are. If they say these ridiculous things enough, people will believe them.
Kudos to these groups working to fight against the unethical behavior of this administration.