Dem 51
image description
GOP 49
image description

Trump Is Planning to Really Lock Them Up

During his 2016 campaign, Trump often called for locking up Hillary Clinton. That was just bluster. After he won, he didn't do anything. But 2024 could be different. He has considerably more concrete plans for prosecuting people who have criticized or opposed him than he had in 2016. Does he mean it? As Maya Angelou said: "When someone shows you who they really are, believe them the first time."

In private, Trump has told advisers that he wants his new AG to prosecute John Kelly, Bill Barr, and Mark Milley. He also wants to prosecute some FBI officials. He also is planning to appoint a special prosecutor to go after Joe Biden and his family. Corrupt prosecutors can make up bogus charges and then the victims will have to hope that Trump-appointed judges don't pick biased juries. Saikrishna Prakash, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Virginia, said: "It would resemble a banana republic if people came into office and started going after their opponents willy-nilly."

Much of the planning for Trump's second term has been outsourced to several D.C.-area right-wing think tanks. It is being called "Project 2025." The think tanks are developing executive orders Trump can sign immediately. These include deploying the military domestically to put down protests under the Insurrection Act whenever the president declares there is an insurrection going on.

One thing is crystal clear about a second Trump term: It would not be about new policies or passing new laws. It would be about using the powers of the presidency in a dictatorial manner. Trump justified it by referring to the 91 charges against him. He said: "This is third-world-country stuff, 'arrest your opponent.' And that means I can do that, too." A second term would be all about retribution.

Traditionally, the DoJ operates independently of the White House, but Trump's allies, such as former OMB Director Russ Vought, reject that idea. He says the AG serves at the pleasure of the president and is expected to carry out the president's wishes, the same as all the other cabinet officers. Vought is expected to fill a major top-level position in a Trump 2.0 administration.

Many people in Trump's inner circle have soured on the Federalist Society. They see it as too soft and too fixated on the rule of law and not willing to go along with some of Trump's ideas, like politicizing the DoJ and having its focus be prosecuting Trump's opponents.

Trump now realizes that he got off to a slow start last time and doesn't want to make that mistake again. He wants a pile of executive orders ready to sign on Day 1. He also wants a list of carefully vetted nominees for all top positions that he can send to the Senate the first week. If Republicans control the Senate there could be huge battles there, as presumed majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) may resist some (or many) of them. McConnell as a bulwark defending democracy may sound strange to some people, but it could happen. (V)

This item appeared on Read it Monday through Friday for political and election news, Saturday for answers to reader's questions, and Sunday for letters from readers.                     State polls                     All Senate candidates