Trump’s plan for dictatorship

Trump’s plan for dictatorship

Jack Shafer writes:

You can’t say Donald Trump didn’t warn us.

Trump and his think tank loyalists are collecting the ingredients and refining the recipe for an authoritarian regime should he win the 2024 presidential election. According to a page one story in The Washington Post Monday, Trump plans on the first day of his new administration to invoke the Insurrection Act so he can dispatch the military to counter any demonstrations that might resist his policies.

Why might he need the Insurrection Act? Well, the piece also notes Trump intends to turbo-politicize the Department of Justice and order prosecutions of his former aides and officials who have criticized him. Perhaps he thinks the country won’t let him go buck wild on the rule of law without a stink, so he wants to be ready to sic troops on the inevitable protestors. Fingered by Trump for legal beat-downs, the Post reports, are one-time Trump stalwarts and staffers like former chief of staff John F. Kelly, former attorney general William Barr, his ex-attorney Ty Cobb, and former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Mark A. Milley. Trump has singled out other officials at the FBI and the Department of Justice for prosecution, the piece adds, as well as President Joe Biden and his family.

Leading Trump’s Insurrection Act initiative is Jeffrey Clark, a Trump-era Department of Justice official currently being prosecuted for his part in an alleged scheme to overturn Georgia’s 2020 election results. According to the Post piece, Trump intends to leaven the entire federal bureaucracy with appointees like Clark who are willing to do his bidding. (Told by a colleague that there would be riots in the streets if Trump sought to stay in office despite losing the 2020 election, Clark is said to have responded, “That’s why there’s an Insurrection Act.”)

How much of this Trump power lust is new? Recall that he called for the Constitution’s termination in December 2022 so he could return to the presidency. Also, he’s always loved to entertain himself and his followers by talking about throwing opponents in jail. Over the summer, ABC News compiled a list of plenty of people he wanted indicted or jailed for their crimes, including ex-FBI Director James Comey, former special counsel Robert Mueller, Steele dossier author Christopher Steele, Bill and Hillary Clinton, former national security adviser John Bolton. You may recall that locking up Hillary Clinton was elemental to his 2016 campaign. As for testing the limits of presidential power, that’s old hat, too. During his first administration, he banned Muslim visitors, issued an emergency declaration to build a border wall after Congress refused to pay for it, and sought to overturn the 2020 election results.

But this new round of bombast and threats is not just a matter of Trump being Trump. What’s different this time is that Trump’s building an extra-legal foundation of declarations and appointments to make his 2017-2021 aspirations, which sounded like off-the-cuff ravings at the time, come true. [Continue reading…]

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