Barack Obama's former lawyers sue Donald Trump's team over alleged intimidation of federal workers

United to Protect Democracy says its goal is 'protecting the civil service from purges, intimidation or politicisation'

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Donald Trump's administration is being sued over the alleged intimidation of civil servants by a group of senior lawyers who helped the Obama administration develop and adhere to a code of ethics.

United to Protect Democracy, named after a line from Barack Obama's farewell address, is taking the Department of Energy and the Department of Health and Human Services to court for records concerning the allegations, NPR reports.

Ben Berwick, one of the group's lawyers, wrote in a blog that the non-profit's goal is "protecting the civil service from purges, intimidation or politicisation." 

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The action comes after the group filed Freedom of Information Act requests for the documents.

By law, an FOIA applicant can sue if an agency fails to act promptly, which the group alleges has happened.

The suit filed about the Department of Energy seeks documents concerning an alleged attempt by Mr Trump's transition team to get the names of civil servants and contractors who worked on climate change programmes.

The case concerning the Department of Health and Human Services requests similar documents allegedly targeting employees who worked for the Affordable Care Act or expressed views on abortion rights.

Neither of the agencies have commented on the lawsuits.

The group intends to explore issues which have not yet been exposed by the media, such as the possibility White House staff members may have intervened in and intimidated regulatory agencies.