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Behind the Curtain: Trump’s imperial presidency in waiting

By Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen


Former President Trump, if re-elected, plans to immediately test the boundaries of presidential and governing power, knowing the restraints of Congress and the courts are dramatically looser than during his first term, his advisers tell us.

Why it matters: It’s not just the Supreme Court ruling on Monday that presidents enjoy substantial legal immunity for actions in office. Trump would come to office with a Cabinet and staff pre-vetted for loyalty, and a fully compliant Republican coalition in Congress — devoid of critics in positions of real power.

  • That’s a big reason many Democrats worry President Biden is making one of the biggest gambles in U.S. history by staying in the race amid acute concerns about his age.

The big picture: Trump promises an unabashedly imperial presidency — one that would turn the Justice Department against critics, deport millions of people in the U.S. illegally, slap 10% tariffs on thousands of products, and fire perhaps tens of thousands of government staff deemed insufficiently loyal.

  • He’d stretch the powers of the presidency in ways not seen in our lifetime. He says this consistently and clearly — so it’s not conjecture.

You might like this or loathe this. But it’s coming, fast and furious, if he’s elected.

  • Thanks to Monday’s Supreme Court ruling, Trump could pursue his plans without fear of punishment or restraint.

What to watch: To hear Trump and his allies tell it, this is how early 2025 would unfold if he wins:

1. A re-elected Trump would quickly set up vast camps and deport millions of people in the U.S. illegally. He could invoke the Insurrection Act and use troops to lock down the southern border.

2. In Washington, Trump would move to fire potentially tens of thousands of civil servants using a controversial interpretation of law and procedure. He’d replace many of them with pre-vetted loyalists.

3. He’d centralize power over the Justice Department, historically an independent check on presidential power. He plans to nominate a trusted loyalist for attorney general, and has threatened to target and even imprison critics. He could demand the federal cases against him cease immediately.

4. Many of the Jan. 6 convicts could be pardoned — a promise Trump has made at campaign rallies, where he hails them as patriots, not criminals. Investigations of the Bidens would begin…


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