Barack Hussein Obama has only been out of the White House for a month, but since then, he has been feverishly working on a plan to take Donald Trump down.
Politico reported that lawyers who helped Obama’s White House craft and hold to rules of conduct have formed a new group to prepare and fight against the Trump administration, who they believe will break these rules. The group is called United to Protect Democracy, named after a line in Obama’s farewell address that urged his supporters to pick up where he was leaving off.
In just a few weeks, the group has raised a $1.5 million operating budget, hired five staffers and has plans to double that in the coming months. UPD has been incorporated as both a 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4), which means it can operate as a nonprofit while also participating in some forms of political advocacy.
The group’s plan of attack is to drill into issues that aren’t in the news right now, 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, the leader of the new group. “In reality, often times, democracies decline over a period of years that happen through a series of much smaller steps.”
Bassin was an associate White House during the first three years of Obama’s presidency, and he spent much of this time working on ethics questions such as what’s known as the agency contact rule, meant to prevent politics and favoritism from influencing independent agencies. He is hiring other lawyers in the group who have similar experience in the White House or the Department of Justice.
“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,” Bassin said.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer responded to the formation of the group, saying, “This administration has raised the level of ethics training and oversight to a new level compared to the practices of the previous administration.”
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