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Thursday, January 25, 2024

Authoritarian Playbook

 United to Protect Democracy, The Authoritarian Playbook for 2025:

 Trump’s campaign promises are extensive, as are the plans of groups working to support those promises in preparation for a second Trump term. This report, therefore, does not seek to cover them all. It also does not cover dangers posed by a second Trump term about which he has not made explicit promises or that fall outside of federal government operations, but that may pose even graver risks, such as the degree to which he uses the threat and reality of violence to achieve political ends. Those and other risks of a second Trump term also require attention, reporting, and analysis but are beyond the scope of this report. This report addresses the following topics on which he has made explicit promises and about which his allies have developed specific plans for federal government action: 
  • Pardons to License Lawbreaking: During Trump’s first term, he discovered that he could leverage the pardon power to induce witnesses against him into silence. In a second term, he has indicated he would further abuse pardons to incite political violence, incentivize lawbreaking for his benefit, and render himself above the law.
  •  Directing Investigations Against Critics and Rivals: Retribution is the dominant theme of Trump’s 2024 campaign, and his allies are making plans to eliminate the Department of Justice’s traditional prosecutorial independence to give Trump greater personal control to direct law enforcement against his perceived opponents and insulate himself from accountability. 
  • Regulatory Retaliation: In addition to steering prosecutorial discretion via the Department of Justice, Trump has vowed to consolidate and wield federal regulatory power to reward political loyalty and punish his critics, particularly those associated with the media. There are numerous reports of this regulatory retaliation happening during Trump’s first term, and plans for a second include ways of removing those obstacles that limited opportunities for more.
  • Federal Law Enforcement Overreach: Trump’s declaration that immigration is “poisoning the blood of our country” is a grim foreshadowing of how he will invoke the Alien Enemies Act, a wartime provision dating back to 1798. Once Trump has that power, he has also expressed his will to expand the footprint of federal law enforcement to police cities and shut down lawful protests.
  • Domestic Deployment of the Military: A central hallmark of American democracy is that the U.S. military not be used against American citizens. But Trump plans to abuse the Insurrection Act to order military force to quash dissent and target vulnerable communities.