Donald Trump eyes expansive powers in a second term: Putting to rest any past conservative notions of “limited government,” former President Trump is openly vowing to assume unprecedented powers as president, should he gain another term.
Donald Trump: A Dictator?
It’s not common for a presidential candidate to vow while running that they aspire to assume near-dictatorial powers, should they win the presidency.
But President Trump appears to be doing just that.
The New York Times reported Monday that Trump, who enjoys a huge lead in the Republican primary contest, is “planning a sweeping expansion of presidential power over the machinery of government if voters return him to the White House in 2025, reshaping the structure of the executive branch to concentrate far greater authority directly in his hands.”
The analysis makes clear that Trump believes that, in his previous term as president, he did not go far enough, and was too often prevented from doing what he wanted by the structures of the government, and from agencies having the power to limit what he wanted.
Trump would plan to not only investigate his political opponents, and fire thousands of career civil servants but to “alter the balance of power by increasing the president’s authority over every part of the federal government that now operates, by either law or tradition, with any measure of independence from political interference by the White House.”
The story is based on proposals put forward by the Trump campaign’s policy shop. Among other plans, Trump wants to bring both the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission “under direct presidential control.”
It is extremely rare for presidential campaigns to talk like this openly.
There is also a direct quote from John McEntee, who was the White House personnel chief late in Trump’s presidency. McEntee was fired by the administration in 2018, over a “financial crime investigation,” but was later rehired.
“The president’s plan should be to fundamentally re-orient the federal government in a way that hasn’t been done since F.D.R.’s New Deal,” McEntee told the Times. “Our current executive branch… was conceived of by liberals for the purpose of promulgating liberal policies. There is no way to make the existing structure function in a conservative manner. It’s not enough to get the personnel right. What’s necessary is a complete system overhaul.”
“What we’re trying to do is identify the pockets of independence and seize them,” former Trump White House aide Russell T. Vought told the Times.
In 2016, the Trump Administration had a bare-bones transition operation. Chris Christie had been named head of the transition but was pushed out of that role as soon as Trump won. Should Trump return to office, that will be different, the newspaper said.
Trump’s team has launched Project 2025, described by the Times as “a $22 million presidential transition operation that is preparing policies, personnel lists, and transition plans to recommend to any Republican who may win the 2024 election.”
There was some pushback to this idea- especially by former Trump loyalists who have broken with the former president.
“It would be chaotic,” John F. Kelly, Mr. Trump’s former White House chief of staff, told the Times. “It just simply would be chaotic, because he’d continually be trying to exceed his authority but the sycophants would go along with it. It would be a nonstop gunfight with the Congress and the courts.”
“Deciding how to vote in the 2024 election will be super easy & super straightforward: If you want a dictator in the White House, vote for Trump. If you don’t, vote for Biden,” Joe Walsh, the Republican Congressman-turned-Trump challenger, said on Twitter in response to the Times story.
The story also quoted Trump at a Michigan rally in June.
“We will demolish the deep state,” Mr. Trump said at that rally in Michigan. “We will expel the warmongers from our government. We will drive out the globalists. We will cast out the communists, Marxists and fascists. And we will throw off the sick political class that hates our country.”
Expertise and Experience
Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.