Kimberley Strassel: The Trump ‘ethics’ resistance

Powerful House Democrats are about to blitz the Trump administration with subpoenas and investigations. Pay attention to their nonprofit helpers, many of which are new.

For nearly a decade, the left has decried the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which restored speech freedoms and enabled hundreds of tea-party groups. For just as long, they have bitterly criticized conservative watchdogs such as Judicial Watch, which they accuse of using litigation to hound the Obama administration. Various liberals have called Judicial Watch a “smear sausage” factory, identified it as the epicenter of “Clinton Derangement Syndrome” and accused it of “weaponizing the Freedom of Information Act for political purposes.”

CLICK HERE TO READ KIMBERLEY STRASSEL: CHECKING ROBERT MUELLER

President Donald Trump speaks to members of the five branches of the military by video conference on Christmas Day, Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2018, in the Oval Office of the White House. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

President Donald Trump speaks to members of the five branches of the military by video conference on Christmas Day, Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2018, in the Oval Office of the White House. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

But if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Judicial Watch has many great admirers. Progressive nonprofits are popping up all over Washington, shepherded by powerful liberal political players, funded by sources unknown, modeled on conservative groups and united in burying the Trump administration under a mountain of scandal. The White House would do well to understand that in some ways these groups are its most potent threat.

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Consider Democracy Forward, which launched last year with a mission of “fighting government corruption in court.” Sound familiar? The board includes Marc Elias, the Democratic lawyer behind the infamous Steele dossier, and John Podesta, chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign. It’s a big operation as these things go, with a staff composed largely of Obama administration lawyers and advisers. And it’s already touting a packet of FOIA demands and lawsuits against the administration.

FILE -- Marc Elias, the Democratic lawyer behind the infamous Steele dossier. (Photo by David Jolkovski for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

FILE -- Marc Elias, the Democratic lawyer behind the infamous Steele dossier. (Photo by David Jolkovski for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Keep reading Kimberley Strassel's column in the Wall Street Journal.