Trump critics launch democracy task force

A new democracy task force is being formed at the Brennan Center for Justice in response to what the group's founders say is President TrumpDonald John TrumpNFL freezes policy barring players from protesting during anthem McConnell spokesman on Putin visit: 'There is no invitation from Congress' Petition urges University of Virginia not to hire Marc Short MORE's abuse of presidential norms. 

Former U.S. attorney Preet BhararaPreetinder (Preet) Singh BhararaPossibility of Trump pardoning himself sparks GOP pushback Admission that Trump dictated statement on Trump Tower meeting raises new questions Bharara: Trump allies ‘clearly getting a message’ from pardons MORE, a frequent Trump critic who was dismissed by the president last year, and former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Christine Todd Whitman created the task force. They announced the decision in an opinion piece published in USA Today.

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“One year into the Trump presidency, it’s clear that the norms and boundaries traditionally guiding American political behavior have deeply eroded," they wrote. "That matters greatly. A workable democracy can thrive only when there are basic rules, often unwritten, that curb abuse and guide policymakers.”

Both Bharara and Whitman have been critical of the Trump administration and its policies. Bharara has focused on the president’s attacks on the FBI and special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE.

Whitman, who was also governor of New Jersey from 1994-2001, has criticized the environmental policies of the administration.

Bharara, a Democrat, and Whitman, a Republican, cited Trump’s treatment of the press, failure to divest fully from his business and attacks on Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election as examples of breaks from typical presidential behavior. 

The task force, based out of New York University’s School of Law, will review government traditions dealing with financial conflicts, political interference with law enforcement, the use of government data and science, and other topics. 

Other officials and experts from both parties will also serve on the task force, which will eventually release a set of recommendations.

“Trump is extreme, but he is not the first president to breach core constitutional norms. Our system relies on checks and balances, constitutional commands that are implicit in our founding document but often not spelled out with specificity,” the two wrote.