WASHINGTON — Donald Trump has made comments about dictatorship and dictatorship among those who understand the inner workings of the Pentagon, raising fears that he will turn the nonpartisan U.S. military into a muscle arm of his political agenda. devalues checks and balances who laid the foundations of the nation’s two centuries of democracy.
According to their books and testimony to Congress, Trump’s circle of appointees, regardless of his political operation, distanced him from ideas that would exceed the limits of presidential powers during his last presidency. Most eventually left. In the new term, many former officials worry that Trump will be surrounded by loyalists who won’t say no.
Trump has raised new questions about his intentions if he were to regain power by running is a legal theory that a president would be free to do so almost everything With impunity, including killing his political opponents, unless Congress can muster the votes to impeach him and remove him from office.
Now preparing for Trump’s potential return, a loose network of public interest groups and lawmakers is quietly making plans to try to block any efforts to expand the president’s powers, including pressuring the military to meet his political needs.
Those involved in the effort told NBC News that they are studying Trump’s past actions and 2024 policy positions so they can be ready if he wins in November. That includes preparing to take legal action and sending letters to Trump appointees explaining the consequences they will face if they violate constitutional norms.
“We are already starting to create a team to think about the most harmful types of it [Trump] We can do that by being prepared to go to court if necessary,” said Mary McCord, executive director of the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Defense at Georgetown Law.
Those involved in the discussions said part of the goal was to identify like-minded organizations and build a coalition to challenge Trump from day one. Some participants examine policy documents in preparation for future conservative management. They’re also watching press interviews from Trump allies for clues about what Trump’s resume will look like.
Other participants include Democracy Forward, which has sued the Trump administration more than 100 times during his administration, and Protect Democracy, an anti-authoritarian organization.
“We are preparing for a lawsuit and we are preparing to use every tool in the toolbox of our democracy to ensure that the American people have the ability to fight back,” said Skye Perryman, president of Democracy Forward. “We believe this is an existential moment for American democracy, and everyone must do their part.”
America’s commander-in-chief has a wide range of powers at his disposal – some well-known, others not so much. Some lawmakers and pro-democracy advocates worry that nothing will stop the president from mobilizing the military to interfere in elections, police America’s streets or quell domestic protests.
Wary of Trump staying in power — he’s even running against President Joe Biden — Democratic lawmakers who are already known to challenge Trump are working on a parallel track.
Among the least understood tools for the president is the Sedition Act. Stated vaguely, it gives the president considerable discretion in deciding what constitutes an insurgency and when to deploy active military force in response, experts say.
Some lawmakers on Capitol Hill worry that Trump could invoke the act to draw in the armed forces in the face of domestic protests or if midterm elections don’t go his way.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., is drafting legislation that would clarify the act and allow Congress and the courts to use some of it. Given that Republicans control the House and are largely loyal to Trump, its chances of passage are slim.
“There are a number of horrors that could result from Donald Trump’s unrestricted use of the Sedition Act,” Blumenthal said in an interview. “A president with malign motivations can use the military in a variety of dictatorial ways unless he resists an order that the military deems illegal. But this puts a heavy burden on the army.”
According to Trump, he vowed to get “revenge.” “mistake” and “betrayal” has raised fears that he will use his presidential powers more broadly as a bulwark against political enemies. Increasing anxiety, a Fox News town hall Last month he said he would be a “dictator” – but only on his first day in office to close the border and drill for oil. Later, he wrote these words on the social network “jokingly.” Trump recently told a Fox News town hall in Iowa that “I won’t have time to retaliate.”
Critics don’t buy it.
“He is a clear and present threat to our democracy,” said William Cohen, a former Republican senator from Maine and secretary of defense in the Clinton administration, who was not involved in the open network. “His support is solid. “I don’t think people understand what it means to live in a dictatorship.”
The Trump campaign, which sent a list of questions about the fears discussed in this article, did not respond.
“The Same Lessons Lincoln Learned”
Trump’s legal troubles offer new insights into his vision of a presidency that removes constraints. Even bribery or murder can’t put a president in prison unless Congress first impeaches and impeaches him, according to a legal theory his lawyers advanced to a federal appeals court on Tuesday.
Trump is accused of trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election. In his defense, his legal team argues that in trying to reverse Biden’s victory, Trump fell within the “outer perimeter” of his official duties and was thus immune from prosecution.
Where does such reasoning lead? At a hearing involving Trump, a judge laid out ominous scenarios for what the president might do under this broad notion of immunity.