Donald Trump took office in 2017 and already possessed many of the instincts and inclinations of a mob boss — and he left office after learning a fundamental mob boss lesson after a handful of people more loyal to the country than him , hampered his willful rule. Now that Trump and his followers are planning a return to power, they want to make sure that if he is re-elected, he will have nothing less than absolute loyalty.
In a speech this week to the America First Policy Institute, a new pro-Trump group in Washington, the former president outlined his vision for his second administration. As David Frum tells in the Atlantic:
Trump outlined a vision. . . [involving] sweeping new emergency powers for the next Republican president. The President would be empowered to disregard state jurisdiction over criminal law. The President is likely to brush aside a “weak, foolish and stupid governor” and sack “radical and racist prosecutors” – racist here means “anti-white”. The president could federalize the state National Guard for law enforcement duties, stop and search suspects for illegal weapons, and impose death sentences on drug dealers after accelerated trials.
Of course, the defeated, twice impeached President could not make a comeback. The January 6th Committee of the House of Representatives continues to collect and release damning evidence regarding his involvement in the insurgency and his failure to respond. He is reportedly being targeted by prosecutors at the Justice Department. His support among Republicans appears to be declining.
But Trump’s re-election is anything but impossible. And when he returns, he will continue to undermine public confidence in government and end the rule of law – and he will do it with yes men.
Imagine his next cabinet. There won’t be people like Rex Tillerson, John Kelly, James Mattis or HR McMaster – nobody with a backbone, let alone a conscience.
Former Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro, who is currently facing charges of contempt of Congress after defying a Jan. 6 subpoena, has offered a few names for Trump Team 2.0. They include bombastic Fox News host Jeanine Pirro as Attorney General and Kash Patel, the sycophantic and ambitious former adviser to Rep. Devin Nunes, who was briefly Chief of Staff to the incumbent Secretary of Defense, as Director of National Intelligence.
Next, imagine Mike Flynn, a convicted felon, as secretary of defense, Fox host Dan Bongino as the next FBI director. Secretary of Commerce Mike Lindell or Patrick Byrne. Tony Ornato as Director of Intelligence. What about Solicitor General John Eastman, who a federal judge has said was likely involved in a criminal conspiracy with Trump? A Democrat-controlled Senate would reject all of these individuals, but who knows what a Republican-controlled Senate would do?
And then there are the 4,000 political appointments in the lower cabinet that every government has to make. Jonathan Swan reports that the Trump-worshiping nonprofit conservative world has been building databases of future loyalists to fill those jobs. The Heritage Foundation organized fifteen conservative groups into a loose confederation to divide up the work, according to Swan.
Including the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), to which Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows belongs. CPI’s immediate priority “is to have at least 300 fully vetted America First staffers to service the GOP congressional offices after the midterms.” They would have two years of Hill experience for the next Trump administration.
A company founded by Stephen Miller called America First Legal is focused on “identifying and compiling a roster of attorneys who would be willing to fill the most important general counsel positions in a second term of the Trump administration across the administration.” The American Moment group, whose board includes Trump convert JD Vance, the Ohio GOP Senate nominee, is attempting to pipeline a straight-to-government pipeline from Hillsdale College and other conservative schools.
BIn addition to the political appointments, there are hundreds of thousands of officials who fill out the federal bureaucracy. Here, too, the Trump team has made it clear that they want to exert significantly more control.
The primary tool for removing any disloyal official is an executive order that Trump signed into office late in his term, in October 2020. She erased public service protections for any government employee with the slightest influence on policy-making, classifying such individuals as “Schedule F.” President Joe Biden repealed the executive order on Jan. 22, 2021, but Trump is expected to reinstate it if he is re-elected.
Trump had little time to use Schedule F during his first term, but he would likely use it vigorously in a second term. It is estimated that 50,000 federal employees would fall under Trump’s thumb.
Schedule F would effectively stamp out a century and a half of civil service reform. After President James Garfield was shot in 1881 by a disgruntled assassin who believed he was owed a patronage job, national outrage overcame decades of opposition from machine politicians and party hacks to civil service reform. Fifteen months later, the Pendleton Act became law, ending the notion that “the spoils belong to the victors”.
With Trump’s re-enactment of Schedule F’s executive order, our national government would begin to resemble Tammany Hall—a corrupt political machine. Mike Lindell could end up dictating how federal health and safety regulations apply to the pillow business.
The consequences of this attack would be nothing less than the dismantling of orderly state processes that ultimately protect the freedom of all by curbing arbitrary and corrupt power. As historian Heather Cox Richardson wrote this week, “Authoritarian figures expect loyalty only to themselves and not to impartial government.”
Of course, the danger is not limited to Trump. As Jonathan V. Last pointed out, Ron DeSantis and all other potential GOP candidates should be consulted for their position on Schedule F and related issues. But Trump, still the leading contender for the GOP nomination, has shown he’s willing and eager to use Schedule F. As his former deputy director of the White House Personnel Office, Andrew R. Kloster, put it: “The first thing you have to do is hire for loyalty. . . . [Y]You can learn politics. You can’t learn loyalty.”
Any crime boss would agree.