April 19, 2017

Protect Democracy Calls on White House to Prevent Improper Political Meddling in Government Agencies

United to Protect Democracy is calling on the White House to issue and enforce a robust policy to prevent inappropriate political interference in federal government functions. For more than four decades, Administrations of both parties have committed to such policies, which help ensure that the government is run for the benefit of the public and not used as a tool to benefit political allies or punish political enemies of the President.

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April 19, 2017 | Washington Post

Dueling letters from opposing groups warn Sessions on political hiring

Dueling letters from disparate coalitions with opposing perspectives demonstrate the dangers of politically contaminated federal employment at a time when congressional Republicans are moving to weaken civil service due process protections.

Read More at WashingtonPost.com

April 11, 2017 | Slate

Progressives Remind Jeff Sessions That Politicizing the DOJ Can Be Illegal. Will He Care?

Late last month, a group of 25 conservatives sent an open letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions in which they implored him to bring long-needed reforms to the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division. Among their suggestions: put an end to the division’s obsession with protecting the rights of minorities and “return to race-neutral Voting Rights Act enforcement.” The letter also recommended granting political appointees—the officials in the DOJ’s so-called front office—more power to decide who works in the division and minimizing the role of career attorneys “who are reliably opposed to President Trump’s agenda.”

Read More at Slate.com

April 11, 2017 | Take Care Blog

Resisting Calls for Illegal Hiring Practices at DOJ’s Civil Rights Division

Last week, we posted about a letter that was sent to Attorney General Jeff Sessions by a veritable rogues gallery of lawyers opposed to the enforcement of anti-discrimination provisions in federal voting rights law.  As we noted, “not only do Trump and Sessions’ more vocal supporters hope that this administration will stop using the Civil Rights Division to shield people of color from discrimination, but they also hope to use the Civil Rights Division as a sword to subject vulnerable minorities to still more discrimination.”

Read More at TakeCareBlog.com

April 11, 2017

Letter to AG Sessions on Illegal Hiring Practices

Dear Attorney General Sessions:

We write to you about ensuring that hiring and other personnel decisions in the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division are based on merit, rather than improper considerations such as actual or perceived political affiliation, as required by law.  On March 28, you received an open letter from 25 signatories, suggesting certain “internal reforms” of the Civil Rights Division.  Although we disagree with many aspects of that letter, we write now to address a specific concern with the recommendation that “[t]he Assistant Attorney Generals in each component Division must preserve or reacquire hiring authority and not leave the decisions in the hands of career bureaucrats who are reliably opposed to President Trump’s agenda.”

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April 7, 2017

Letter to the White House Counsel Re: Syria Legal Justification

Dear Mr. McGahn,

We write to request that you publicly disclose the legal opinion justifying the President’s authority to order military strikes against the Syrian regime on April 6, 2017.

We are all horrified by the atrocities that have been committed against the people of Syria for far too long. But however the United States responds to these brutal acts must be rooted in domestic and international law.

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April 7, 2017

Syria Strike: Where’s the Legal Justification?

Today, we’ve opened an investigation into an important issue for our democracy. Just now, we filed open records requests with seven national security offices demanding to know what – if any – legal justification President Trump relied on before launching military strikes against the Syrian regime. We’re also calling on the White House to immediately disclose the legal basis for the President’s actions.

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March 24,  | Washington Post

Watchdog group wants to know if White House is interfering in decision to block Anthem-Cigna merger

A watchdog group led by former Obama administration lawyers is calling for an investigation into whether the White House is trying to interfere with the Justice Department’s decision to block the merger of health insurance giants Anthem and Cigna.

“We are concerned that Administration officials may have engaged in inappropriate conduct regarding the Anthem-Cigna litigation,” Ian Bassin, the executive director of United to Protect Democracy, wrote…

Read More at WashingtonPost.com

March 23, 2017

Protect Democracy Calls for Investigation into Trump-Anthem Contacts

United to Protect Democracy – a nonpartisan, nonprofit group formed by former White House lawyers – is calling for a thorough investigation of potentially inappropriate contacts between the White House and the Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding the proposed merger between health insurance giants Anthem and Cigna.

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March 17, 2017 | POLITICO

Priebus talk with FBI appears to break White House rules

Reince Priebus’s request that the FBI refute a report of Donald Trump associates’ contacts with Russian intelligence appears to have violated the White House’s policy restricting political interference in pending investigations, according to a copy of the policy obtained by POLITICO.

Read More at POLITICO.com

March 8, 2017

Memo: White House Communications with the DOJ and FBI

The promise that every American will be treated equally under the law and that none is above the law is a bedrock principle of American democracy.  The freedom from political influence — real or perceived — on law enforcement underpins all of our other freedoms.  By contrast, political influence or interference in law enforcement has been a clear hallmark distinguishing authoritarian regimes from true democracies around the globe.

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February 23, 2017 | POLITICO

Obama lawyers form ‘worst-case scenario’ group to tackle Trump

Top lawyers who helped the Obama White House craft and hold to rules of conduct believe President Donald Trump and his staff will break ethics norms meant to guard against politicization of the government — and they’ve formed a new group to prepare, and fight.

Read More at POLITICO.com