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Bipartisan group assails Trump’s attacks on political norms

NEW YORK (AP) — A new bipartisan task force will tackle what its founders say is the erosion of governmental norms created by the election of President Donald Trump.

Democratic former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and Republican former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman announced the task force in an editorial published in USA Today , the pair said that since the election of President Donald Trump, they’ve seen a deep erosion of “the norms and boundaries traditionally guiding American political behavior.”

“A workable democracy can thrive only when there are basic rules, often unwritten, that curb abuse and guide policymakers,” they said. “It’s time to turn soft norms into hard law.”

The opinion piece cited Trump’s refusal to divorce himself from his business interests and what Bharara and Whitman said were the Republican president’s efforts to influence federal criminal investigations.

“All this shows just how easily a chief executive can ignore the unwritten rules that typically constrain presidents. We see similar erosion elsewhere in government, too. For example, a major tax bill, affecting the whole economy, enacted with no committee hearings,” they wrote.

The pair said the task force will be based at the Brennan Center for Justice, a policy institute at New York University’s School of Law.

They said it would review whether informal norms surrounding financial conflicts, political interference with law enforcement, the use of government data and science and the appointment of public officials should be codified into enforceable law.

Bharara is a frequent critic of Trump, who fired him last year as part of a purge of prosecutors appointed by President Barack Obama, a Democrat. Whitman was a former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator under Republican President George W. Bush and has criticized Trump’s environmental policies.

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