“Trump and GOP Launch Full-Court Campaign to Concentrate Presidential Power”
As Donald Trump faces mounting legal challenges and a trial date for mishandling classified documents, he and his GOP allies are aggressively targeting the independence of the Justice Department.
Their aim is twofold: to use the department as a shield to protect Trump from prosecution and to turn it into a pliant tool to exact revenge on his critics.
Trump and his advisers attempt to cloak their actions as a restoration of integrity to a department they claim is engaged in a politically motivated “witch hunt” against the former president.
However, this argument lacks credibility. The special counsel overseeing the investigations operates independently from Attorney General Merrick Garland and President Joe Biden’s team.
Moreover, the indictments have been issued by ordinary citizens serving on grand juries, a cornerstone of the U.S. criminal legal system.
Undeterred, Trump resorts to verbal tantrums, berating the special counsel and judges involved in his cases. His efforts to stoke right-wing anger against the legal system, especially the grand jury system, reveal a ferocious rear-guard action against the rule of law.
Trump and his advisers, like Stephen Miller, even go as far as promising to take control of the Justice Department if Trump regains the presidency in 2024, effectively advocating for a dismantling of the safeguards designed to prevent presidential abuses of power.
Shockingly, these ominous promises have been met with silence or approval from much of the GOP’s congressional leadership, highlighting the spread of anti-democratic sentiments within the party.
Reports indicate that Trump’s political platform includes a range of measures to expand presidential power over Justice Department decisions and target independent agencies.
Plans are underway to allow the president to withhold congressionally approved funding and undermine the independence of the professional civil service.
Trump also appears eager to deploy the military domestically, further alarming those concerned about the erosion of democratic norms.
This concerted power grab is termed “autocratic capture” by political scholars, as it involves bending essential institutions and governing systems to suit the president’s personal desires.
Such tactics have been seen in countries like Russia, Hungary, and India, leading to the erosion of constitutional governance and political pluralism. Trump’s vision of personalized governance, rooted in loyalty to himself, is profoundly incompatible with democratic principles.
Regrettably, Trump is not the only one showing contempt for basic governing norms. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a leading GOP candidate, has also taken steps to centralize power within his state.
Additionally, other GOP hopefuls, including Nikki Haley and Tim Scott, have embraced Trump’s assault on the Justice Department without even knowing the specifics of the charges against him.
To avoid repeating past mistakes, it is essential to acknowledge the dangers posed by Trump’s desire to concentrate presidential power and demand personal loyalty from government officials.
Trump and the array of GOP candidates seeking his base’s support are effectively crafting a program for autocratic capture. Let no one claim ignorance of their intentions; their actions speak loudly and clearly.