White House counsel Don McGahn has assembled a team of elite lawyers with the state goal of leading Trump Administration efforts to roll back regulatory powers across the U.S. government.
The plan of attack, run from the second floor of the West Wing, is designed to take apart what Trump advisor Stephen Bannon has called “the Administrative State,” the collection of federal agencies that exists to carry out laws passed by Congress and authorities granted to the President. Trump aides argue that these bureaucracies have become an independent federal power sources that sometimes works against the intent of the U.S. Congress and U.S. Constitution.
“Article I is the Congress, Article II is the President. Article III are the courts. And then there’s this administrative state, combining all three,” McGahn told TIME in an exclusive interview. “They make the law, they enforce the law, and then they decide who violates the law, destroying the constitutional separation of powers that was designed to protect individual liberty.”
One White House aide described the group of lawyers hired by McGahn as a conservative answer to “Nader’s Raiders,” a small group of liberal activists organized by Ralph Nader in the 1960s and 1970s, who successfully fought for greater federal regulation of consumer goods like automobiles and food.