As former President Donald Trump ramps up his campaign for a potential second term, reports have emerged about his plans for using the federal government as a tool for retribution against his political enemies.
Sources close to the former president have revealed that Trump has named specific individuals, including his former chief of staff John F. Kelly and former attorney general William P. Barr, whom he wants the Department of Justice to investigate and potentially prosecute. Trump has also expressed a desire to go after officials at the FBI and Justice Department, as well as President Joe Biden and his family.
In private, Trump has repeatedly told advisers and friends that he wants to seek revenge on those who have turned on him, often citing the ongoing prosecutions against him as justification for his actions. He has also publicly mentioned appointing a special prosecutor to investigate Biden and his family, despite a lack of evidence to support his claims of corruption.
To achieve his goals, Trump’s associates have been developing a plan to do away with longstanding norms and policies that aim to keep the Department of Justice free from political interference. This includes a proposal to invoke the Insurrection Act on his first day back in office, which would allow him to deploy the military for domestic law enforcement purposes.
The plan, dubbed “Project 2025,” is being developed by a partnership of right-wing think tanks in Washington. Internal communications and conversations with those involved have identified the use of the Insurrection Act as an immediate priority in case of a second Trump term. The law, which was last updated in 1871, has rarely been invoked and has been widely criticized as unconstitutional.
An initiative called Project 2025 is gaining traction, set to transform the deep state.
If successfully implemented, Project 2025 could significantly impact the future landscape of the nation. pic.twitter.com/WoizFtbLxx
— The Epoch Times (@EpochTimes) October 30, 2023
Experts have also raised concerns about Trump’s proposed actions, with constitutional law professor Saikrishna Prakash stating that it would resemble “a banana republic” if a president could use their power to go after political opponents.
However, Trump’s campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung has brushed off the concerns, stating that the former president is focused on “crushing his opponents” and has always stood for “law and order.” Cheung also reiterated Trump’s claims of being a victim of persecution and vowed to “protect the Constitution.”
As Trump continues to dominate the GOP race in recent polls, his focus on retribution and punishing those who have opposed him remains a central theme of his campaign. He frequently tells supporters that his potential victory in 2024 would result in shared redemption, at the expense of his enemies.
Meanwhile, the former president’s targets, including Kelly and Barr, have expressed little concern about Trump’s plans. Kelly predicted that Trump would go after those who have turned on him, while Barr jokingly stated that he is “quivering in his boots.”
In the end, Trump’s plans for retribution may have little legal basis and could potentially backfire. Nevertheless, his allies, such as Russ Vought, who is in regular contact with Trump and would be a key figure in a second term, are actively pushing back against the traditional notion of a free and independent Department of Justice. Vought argues that a change in mindset is needed and that the White House and attorney general should not view themselves as trying to protect the department from the president.