Tag: trump authoritarianism
Donald Trump's Perfect World Of Unlimited (Fascist) Power

Donald Trump's Perfect World Of Unlimited (Fascist) Power

Last Tuesday, D. John Sauer, a lawyer for Donald Trump, went before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and said his client could not be prosecuted for ordering the assassination of one of his political opponents (clearly, if not specifically, meant to include President Biden) unless he was first impeached by the House and convicted by the Senate. Since that ignominious moment, pundits and commentators and legal experts have been all over the specifics of the argument, which had to do with Trump’s claim that he is immune from prosecution for anything he did while he was president that came under the broad-as-an-ocean (for Trump, anyway) category of “official duties.”

Trump’s lawyers were in court to argue that the four counts in the indictment brought by Special Counsel Jack Smith against Trump should be dismissed because of this claim of immunity. But all anyone can talk about since Tuesday has been what we might call the freedom to assassinate claim. It was an extreme hypothetical asked by Judge Florence Y. Pan, who after Sauer hemmed and hawed at her first try at pinning him down, said, “I asked you a yes-or-no question. Could a president who ordered SEAL Team 6 to assassinate a political rival, who was not impeached, would he be subject to criminal prosecution?”

As Adam Liptak, the New York Times Supreme Court reporter cleverly said in a January 10 analysis, “Mr. Sauer said his answer was a ‘qualified yes,’ by which he meant no.” Liptak went on to point out something not brought up in court, that if Trump’s argument is accepted that he would have to be impeached and convicted before he was prosecuted for assassinating a political rival, “A member of Congress might be reluctant, in any event, to vote against a president prepared to order the military to murder his opponents,” among whom would definitely be any member of Congress who voted to impeach and any senator who voted to convict him.

The commentariat seemed to welcome the opportunity to lay in the sun on Trump’s courtroom beach and knock down the legal sandcastles his lawyers had erected. The problem, however, is that everybody, including the judges on the Circuit Court, is continuing to play on Trump’s beach, addressing his arguments regarding his insane claims of what amounts to king-like impunity when it comes to the power he is asserting belonged to him as president and continues to adhere to him as a former president. In other words, it’s not only the assassination claim; it’s everything else.

With all that’s going on, it’s easy to forget that Trump has lost in two claims of immunity in courts of appeals recently. On December 13 of last year, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Manhattan ruled that Trump cannot claim presidential immunity from the defamation suit brought against him by writer E. Jean Carroll, who claimed that Trump had raped her back in the 1990’s. Carroll’s second defamation trial, this one to determine yet more damages against Trump for defaming Carroll a second time, goes to court next week on January 16.

On December 29, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Trump in his claim of presidential immunity from civil liability in a lawsuit brought by several D.C. and Capitol Police against Trump for inciting the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021 during which they were injured.

So not only is Trump claiming he cannot be prosecuted for illegal acts he committed while president, he is claiming civil immunity from judgements against him for the same acts, and civil immunity from defamation lawsuits brought against him for statements he made as president that had nothing to do with his official duties.

It’s not just the legal realm in which Trump is threatening to create a perfect world for himself, in which he will be allowed to do whatever he wants to do, no matter if it is legal or illegal, without suffering consequences. Trump and spokesmen for him have said that if he is elected president he will claim a right to fire federal civil service workers and replace them with political appointees who have passed a loyalty test to him, not the Constitution, so that he will not be hampered by bureaucracy in carrying out his plans to, among other things, deport millions of immigrants without legal hearings or any other procedural rights. Trump has said that on “day one” if elected president he would invoke the Insurrection Act and put active duty members of the military on the streets to put down demonstrations against him, as well as to assist in his demonstrably illegal plans to deal with immigrants on the border.

These are just a few of the things we know that Trump is planning if elected. There are doubtlessly many other plans Trump has made to illegally exercise presidential power in ways that no other president has ever claimed the right to do. All of it amounts to a “so sue me” approach to governing if Trump becomes president again. He clearly has a plan to do whatever he wants to do as president and then use the Department of Justice to defend himself in court if and when he is sued by parties affected by his outrageous assertion of presidential power.

I don’t think it’s unreasonable at all to suspect that Trump plans to use law enforcement powers to arrest and detain political opponents. I mean, if his lawyers are in a federal appeals court arguing that he has the right to assassinate political opponents, what is to stop him from merely arresting them on bogus charges and detaining them, or detaining people without charges at all under some spurious claim of emergency powers under the Insurrection Act?

The way Trump ran his business in New York City amounted to exercising powers as a businessman that didn’t exist, such as refusing to pay money to contractors who worked for him, and then, in effect, saying “so sue me.” In dealing with aggressive reporting he didn’t like, he flipped the “sue me” thing on its head and sued the writers. Trump sued Timothy L. O’Brien, who wrote TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald, in which he stated that Trump was worth far less than his claim of $10 billion plus. He filed nuisance suits against other writers or had his hit-man Michael Cohen call them up and threaten lawsuits if they didn’t back down from claims they made or cancel the publication of articles altogether.

Trump recently threatened to cancel the broadcast licenses of companies he doesn’t like, such as Comcast, the parent company of NBC and MSNBC, and he made numerous similar threats against CNN and other news outfits when he was president in 2017 and 2018. Can you imagine what he might do to the press in a second term if elected?

All of Trump’s claims today of presidential immunity for his past actions merely hint at what he’ll do if he is elected for a second term.

A look back at what he said on the Access Hollywood tape may give us a preview. This is how he thought and acted before he was elected president in 2016: “When you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab 'em by the pussy. You can do anything.”

Every day, Donald Trump tells us who he is and what he’s going to do. Believe him.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which this is reprinted with permission.

Biden's Challenge: Will We Choose Despotism Or Democracy? (VIDEO)

Biden's Challenge: Will We Choose Despotism Or Democracy? (VIDEO)

Ever since Donald Trump declared that he would run for president again, his attempt to seize illegitimate power by overturning the last election has loomed as a central issue in 2024. That is why the president he attempted to usurp squarely confronted the would-be dictator to mark the beginning of the campaign.

On the eve of the second anniversary of Trump's insurrection, President Joe Biden spoke near the Revolutionary War campgrounds of Valley Forge — where George Washington and his Continental Army troops spent a winter of privation and illness before pulling together to rid the new nation of monarchy and despotism. Biden sought to remind us of our connection to that history, of our responsibility to uphold and extend the democracy those freezing, hungry soldiers secured, and of the continuing threat to American values embodied by Trump.

In recent years, the president has mostly avoided speaking his opponent's name, but on this occasion he uttered it more than 40 times as he invoked the criminal conduct committed by Trump during his vain attempt to remain in office. Biden publicly arraigned Trump for Jan. 6, recalling how he had invited the armed mob to the Capitol and then did nothing to prevent or stop their violent assault on Congress as it prepared to certify the 2020 election, which he described as "the worst dereliction of duty by a president in American history."

To this day, Trump has never even attempted to justify his bizarre passive aggression during the hours of deadly violence, watching television and abandoning his role as commander in chief while his eldest son and others pleaded with him to act. But the reason for his inaction is surely obvious: He wanted death and destruction, possibly even the assassination of Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, that would allow him to nullify the election he lost and declare martial law. It was a day when "we nearly lost America," as Biden noted in his speech.

But the events preceding that dark day, as we now understand them, show that the "Capitol riot" was the culmination of a plot against democracy that had started to unfold on election night 2020. As predicted a week earlier by his fascist aide Steve Bannon, Trump tried to claim victory before all the votes were counted. When the tally turned against him, he initiated a series of crimes — including attempts to intimidate election officials in several states and a conspiracy to subvert the Electoral College with fake elector certificates.

Those nefarious maneuvers told us everything about Trump and his cohort, including most elected officials of the Republican Party — who either overcame their initial horror at the Capitol assault or joined eagerly in the plot (even as they ran like cowards from the action). They have humiliated themselves without limit in the years since, inventing an incredible series of conspiracy theories, tall tales and outright lies to excuse the insurrection and protect their Fuhrer Trump. You can still hear them spout nonsense blaming antifascists dressed up in MAGA gear, alleged FBI informants, and even the brave police officers who defended Congress, some of whom lost their lives. It is frankly impossible to imagine that any elected official believes such garbage — although it is also clear that there are many deranged Republican voters who will literally believe anything.

Biden faces a daunting challenge in his effort to preserve democracy from the authoritarian machinations of Trump and his minions. And he is aware that too many Americans no longer recall accurately the convulsive Republican attempt to end this country's history of peaceful political transition. And he knows that if Trump loses, he will try to grab power again.

"When the attacks of Jan. 6 happened, there was no doubt about the truth," said the president. "But now as time has gone on, politics, fear, money have all intervened. And those MAGA voices who know the truth about Trump and Jan. 6 have abandoned the truth and abandoned our democracy. They've made their choice. Now the rest of us — Democrats, independents, mainstream Republicans — we have to make our choice."

Will we be the generation that forfeits our democratic heritage to a modern despot? Biden is asking and only we can answer.

Joe Conason is editor-in-chief of The National Memo and editor-at-large of Type Investigations. He is a bestselling author whose next book,The Longest Con: How Grifters, Swindlers, and Frauds Hijacked American Conservatism, will be published in 2024.

Roger Stone

Roger Stone Says If Trump Loses Election, He Should Seize Total Power

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

Roger Stone is making baseless accusations of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election and is urging Donald Trump to consider several draconian measures to stay in power, including having federal authorities seize ballots in Nevada, having FBI agents and Republican state officials "physically" block voting under the pretext of preventing voter fraud, using martial law or the Insurrection Act to carry out widespread arrests, and nationalizing state police forces.

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