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Obama lawyers team up to fight Trump

Obama lawyers team up to fight Trump
© Greg Nash

Top lawyers from former President Obama’s administration are launching a group aimed at keeping President Trump from breaking ethics rules.

United to Protect Democracy has already built a $1.5 million operating budget and hired five staffers, a number it expects to double soon, Politico reported Thursday.

“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 organization's leader.

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“In reality, oftentimes, democracies decline over a period of years that happen through a series of much smaller steps. We need an organization that is specifically and holistically focused on that worst-case scenario.”

The group is incorporated both as a 501(c)(3) and a 501(c)(4), meaning it can operate as a nonprofit while also engaging in limited political advocacy.

United to Protect Democracy will focus on issues such as Trump administration officials potentially intervening in regulatory agencies or intimidating staff.

The organization has already submitted 50 Freedom of Information Act requests regarding ethics in the Trump administration.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer responded to the group’s formation by waving off any potential ethics concerns.

“This administration has raised the level of ethics training and oversight to a new level compared to the practices of the previous administration,” he told Politico.