Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates isn’t the only federal employee to openly defy Donald Trump’s new presidency. The Washington Post reports that she was part of a “growing wave” of officials' “resistance" toward the president.
Yates was fired by President Trump when she ordered Justice Department lawyers to ignore his order that calls for extreme vetting of certain refugees. A White House statement said, “[Yates] betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States."
But while her case was the most visible, she is not alone. According to WaPo, a small but vocal cadre of federal employees is meeting and planning ways to stop President Trump’s orders as well as any possible changes he may issue to “their mission."
The Washington Post reports that federal employees started their efforts after Trump was elected. They’ve been disseminating documents and government reports to get them into “the hands of allies outside the government”:
While many federal workers have begun to consider avenues of dissent only since the inauguration, others had been preparing for weeks. In the last days of Obama’s tenure, several departments catalogued data and reports and got them into the hands of allies outside the government.
The article also notes that the federal employees have been "in regular consultation with recently departed Obama-era political appointees” to strategize ways to undermine Trump.
Obama’s former Secretary of Labor, Thomas Perez, calls Trump “an existential crisis”:
Former labor secretary Thomas Perez, who also headed the Justice Department’s civil rights division under Obama, said he has not been in contact with his former employees but is working to mobilize grass-roots opposition.
“We’re mindful of our ethical responsibilities,” said Perez, who is running for chair of the Democratic National Committee. “We’re also mindful that we’re in an existential crisis.”
Former Obama Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Tom Malinowski, “sarcastically” told The Washington Post that Trump is seen as a “threat to U.S. national security”:
Asked whether federal workers are dissenting in ways that go beyond previous party changes in the White House, Tom Malinowski, who was President Barack Obama’s assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, said, sarcastically: "Is it unusual?. . .There’s nothing unusual about the entire national security bureaucracy of the United States feeling like their commander in chief is a threat to U.S. national security. That happens all the time. It’s totally usual. Nothing to worry about.”
A “support group for civil servants seeking a forum to discuss their opposition” to Trump meeting last weekend discussed ways to dissent without losing their jobs.
One Justice Department official suggested that federal employees stage a work slowdown to stymie the democratically-elected president:
“You’re going to see the bureaucrats using time to their advantage,“ said the employee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation. Through leaks to news organizations and internal complaints, he said, ”people here will resist and push back against orders they find unconscionable.”
Others have started social media sites to be the “rogue” alternative to agencies such as NASA, NIH, the National Park Service, EPA, and other alphabet bureaucracies who fear their opinions and “science” will be stifled by a Republican administration:
White House spokesman Sean Spicer recently said that federal employees who don’t want to work with Trump on his extreme vetting program “should get with the program or go.”
And former Bush administration official Hans von Spakovsky told Independent Journal Review that this behavior by federal employees is over-the-top:
“I saw this same kind of behavior amongst career lawyers inside the Justice Department during the George W. Bush administration; although, they were not quite as blatant about it as these federal employees.”
Von Spakovsky, who’s now with the Heritage Foundation, told IJR that political ideologues in the ranks should keep politics out of their jobs:
"They are wrong when they say it is their “mission.” Their job is to be nonideological and nonpartisan and to carry out the priorities of the administration. If they have a problem with that, [then] they should resign. And any federal employees who misbehave in this fashion should be terminated for cause.
As The Hill reported, of the $2 million given to presidential candidates by government employees, $1.9 million or 95 percent was given to the Democratic candidate.
Candidates conduct their political battles in the court of public opinion—elections. But for the organized left, the campaign isn't over.