Obama-era associate White House counsel Ian Bassin moved quickly to oppose the implementation of President Donald Trump’s agenda earlier this year, founding an organization designed to lay bare any possible ethics violations on the part of the new presidential administration.
He said that although other government ethics watchdog organizations certainly existed at the time that he founded his own, none were prepared to face the possible series of constitutional crises that may likely arise through the course of Trump’s time in the White House.
In addition, Bassin has said, he and his coworkers are better prepared then others to take on these crises since that’s the sort of thing that they spent years familiarizing themselves with during Obama’s time in office.
As he told POLITICO:
‘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.’
Well, Bassin’s group isn’t alone in its efforts.
Reuters is reporting that a number of Obama-era Justice Department or related appointees have moved quickly to take on Trump’s agenda since the new president took office on January 20.
For example, perhaps you remember the lawsuit that Trump got slapped with just a short time into his presidency over alleged conflicts of interest? The issue prompting the lawsuit is that the president hasn’t completely severed ties with his businesses, opening up a number of inroads for even more corruption in the new administration.
Rather than severing ties with his businesses, Trump has simply given executive control to his sons Donald Jr. and Eric. The president still maintains financial stake in his vast real estate empire.
The first lawsuit brought against Trump over this matter after his inauguration was spearheaded by, you guessed it, a justice official from the Obama Administration. Norman Eisen, who was Obama’s top ethics lawyer and later ambassador to the Czech Republic, co-founded and now chairs Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
And there are others.
Johnathan Smith, for instance, who worked on religious discrimination issues at the Justice Department, now has a new job as legal director for the civil rights group Muslim Advocates. He, along with many of those like him, hadn’t planned on staying at the front lines after Trump’s inauguration, but conditions quickly proved that the services of Smith and others were desperately needed.
As Smith commented, “There’s a unique threat to our democracy and Constitution that we see in the assault the president is mounting on the Muslim community.”
Others who have joined the fight against Trump’s agenda include former Attorney General Eric Holder who, according to Reuters, is “advising California’s legislature on challenging Trump over immigration, environmental regulations and healthcare,” while former acting solicitor general Neal Katyal is helping Hawaii fight the latest incarnation of President Trump’s revised Muslim targeting travel ban.
Hawaii was one of the first jurisdictions to announce a challenge to what’s been called Muslim ban 2.0.
Former Republican justice officials have criticized the moves from Obama-era Justice Department officials as “too hasty.”
Featured Image via Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images.