Senior Editor

Former President Donald Trump’s campaign is developing plans to use the federal government to punish his political opponents if he wins a second term next year, and critics — including some prominent Republicans, even some staffers from his first term — say these plans would imperil American democracy.

On the campaign trail, Trump has made numerous public references to exacting revenge upon detractors and rivals, including promising to appoint a special prosecutor to “go after” President Biden for unspecified crimes. Earlier this month, in a speech and in a post on Truth Social, he referred to left-wing Americans as “vermin.”

Historians said such dehumanizing of one’s political opponents is frequently used by fascist dictators. Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung responded by saying, “Those who try to make that ridiculous assertion are clearly snowflakes grasping for anything because they are suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome and their entire existence will be crushed when President Trump returns to the White House.”

According to the Washington Post, Trump has privately said he would direct the Department of Justice to investigate officials from his first term who have since criticized his tenure, including:

  • Former White House chief of staff and retired U.S. Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly
  • Former Attorney General William P. Barr
  • Former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark A. Milley
  • Former Trump White House special counsel Ty Cobb

According to his advisers, Trump intends to fire up to tens of thousands of career government professionals and replace them with his allies, and ​​will refuse to spend congressional appropriations on programs he opposes.

The New York Times has reported that Trump’s plans to crack down on illegal immigration will include:

  • Using military funds to erect detention camps
  • Using a public-health emergency law to shut down asylum requests at the border
  • Ending birthright citizenship for babies born in the U.S. to undocumented immigrants

Trump also reportedly plans to send the military into Mexico to combat drug cartels, with or without the Mexican government’s permission.

A number of high-profile Republican elected officials, conservative legal scholars and veterans of Trump’s first term in office have said Trump’s intentions would weaken the justice system and threaten the rule of law. Here are some of the most notable criticisms:

Former Rep. Liz Cheney, Republican from Wyoming

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