It is worth getting inside Trump’s head a bit and imagining his mood following an election victory. He will have spent the previous year, and more, fighting to stay out of jail, plagued by myriad persecutors and helpless to do what he likes to do best: exact revenge. Think of the fury that will have built up inside him, a fury that, from his point of view, he has worked hard to contain. As he once put it, “I think I’ve been toned down, if you want to know the truth. I could really tone it up.” Indeed he could — and will. We caught a glimpse of his deep thirst for vengeance in his Veterans Day promise to “root out the Communists, Marxists, Fascists, and Radical Left Thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our Country, lie, steal, and cheat on Elections, and will do anything possible, whether legally or illegally, to destroy America, and the American Dream.” Note the equation of himself with “America and the American Dream.” It is he they are trying to destroy, he believes, and as president, he will return the favor.
What will that look like? Trump has already named some of those he intends to go after once he is elected: senior officials from his first term such as retired Gen. John F. Kelly, Gen. Mark A. Milley, former attorney general William P. Barr and others who spoke against him after the 2020 election; officials in the FBI and the CIA who investigated him in the Russia probe; Justice Department officials who refused his demands to overturn the 2020 election; members of the Jan. 6 committee; Democratic opponents including Rep. Adam B. Schiff (Calif.); and Republicans who voted for or publicly supported his impeachment and conviction.
But that’s just the start. After all, Trump will not be the only person seeking revenge. His administration will be filled with people with enemies’ lists of their own, a determined cadre of “vetted” officials who will see it as their sole, presidentially authorized mission to “root out” those in the government who cannot be trusted. Many will simply be fired, but others will be subject to career-destroying investigations. The Trump administration will be filled with people who will not need explicit instruction from Trump, any more than Hitler’s local gauleiters needed instruction. In such circumstances, people “work toward the Führer,” which is to say, they anticipate his desires and seek favor through acts they think will make him happy, thereby enhancing their own influence and power in the process. [Continue reading…]