A team of legal experts, led by one of former President Barack Obama’s White House lawyers, is planning to take on the Trump regime.
The group, “United to Protect Democracy,” takes its name from a line in Obama’s presidential farewell address, and has already raised $1.5 million and hired five staff. Ian Bassin, who leads the group, told Politico he believes that the Trump years may be the years American democracy sinks or swims.
“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,” Bassin said. “In reality, often times, democracies decline over a period of years that happen through a series of much smaller steps.”
Bassin’s group has filed roughly 50 Freedom of Information Act requests to multiple federal agencies, expecting the results to confirm what they suspect about Trump’s multiple conflicts of interest. They then plan to share that information with members of Congress and the media, hoping it will spur an investigation that leads to impeachment charges.
“It’s really important for a bunch of people to shine the light on this question, to make very clear when autocrats are starting in any way to detract from democratic institutions,” Harvard legal scholar Yascha Mounk, who has been advising the group, told Politico.
The group is also gathering resources to file lawsuits to fight potentially unconstitutional actions by the presidency, like defying a
In addition to Bassin, the group hired Jesse Lee, who was Obama’s rapid response director, along with Caroline McKay, who was a legal assistant for the White House Counsel. Bassin was himself an associate legal counsel for the White House during the first three years of Obama’s presidency.
“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.
Jamie Green is a contributor for the Resistance Report covering the Trump administration, and lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.