Top Trump Adviser's Radical Plan For 'Post-Constitutional Government'

Top Trump Adviser's Radical Plan For 'Post-Constitutional Government'

Russ Vought

Photo by Yuri Gripas/REUTERS

If he wins the election in November, former President Donald Trump's rumored top pick for his White House chief of staff would likely help him fast-track his plans to consolidate executive power and circumvent traditional checks and balances.

The Washington Post recently did a deep dive on Russ Vought — an avowed Christian nationalist who leads the far-right Center for Renewing America (CRA) — and his openly stated plans to help Trump fundamentally restructure the federal government. The Post cited anonymous sources familiar with Trump's thinking to report that Vought is under consideration to be selected as the former president's top deputy, should he defeat President Joe Biden this fall.

Under Vought's leadership, the CRA has become "a hub of Trump loyalists" according to the Post. The organization is staffed by people like former Trump DOJ official Jeffrey Clark, who was indicted by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis in her Georgia election interference case. Another key CRA staffer is former Trump Homeland Security official Ken Cuccinelli, whose appointment was eventually ruled illegal by a federal judge. Both men could also have high-profile roles in a potential second Trump White House.

In September of 2022, Vought argued that Americans "are living in a post-Constitutional time," and called for a philosophy he referred to as "radical Constitutionalism" in order to crush the "deep state" and radically expand executive power. Vought's school of thought involves unorthodox ways of interpreting the Constitution in order to accomplish far-right political goals. This includes things like declaring the influx of undocumented immigrants to be an "invasion," then using wartime powers to handle immigration in ways that may be considered illegal.

"We showed that millions of illegal aliens coming across, and Mexican cartels holding operational control of the border, constitute an invasion,” Vought wrote in the essay. “This is where we need to be radical in discarding or rethinking the legal paradigms that have confined our ability to return to the original Constitution.”

Vought and the CRA are also closely tired to the far-right Project 2025 initiative championed by the Heritage Foundation. At the heart of Project 2025 is its 920-page blueprint for a radical restructuring of the federal government, which is entitled Mandate for Leadership: The Conservative Promise. Vought authored the section on "the executive office of the President of the United States." He's also reportedly working on his own playbook for the first 180 days of a second Trump administration, which he has so far not publicly released. However, his past writings suggest his first six months as a possible White House chief of staff would be helping Trump gut the federal civil service and replace experienced career professionals with political loyalists and toadies.

According to the Post, Vought helped write Trump's "Schedule F" executive order, which would have stripped the civil service of numerous employment protection and greatly expanded the number of presidential appointees from around 5,000 to more than 54,000. President Joe Biden notably rescinded that order shortly after taking office.

Republican strategist Tim Chapman told the Post that the relationship between Vought and the 45th president was "a marriage of convenience."

“Russ has been pursuing an ideological agenda for a long time and views Trump’s second term as the best way to achieve it, while Trump needs people in his second term who are loyal and committed and adept at using the tools of the federal government," Chapman said.

One project Trump will likely trust Vought with is his stated goal of prosecuting his political enemies. Vought has argued against the DOJ being an independent agency, and insists that it ultimately be run at the direction of the sitting president. He told far-right activist Charlie Kirk on a podcast that he would be in favor of turning the DOJ against law enforcement officials who prosecuted Trump, and insisted the administration's response to efforts to hold Trump criminally accountable "can't just be hearings."

"It has to be investigations, an army of investigators that lead to firm convictions," he said.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

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