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Trump's plan to use the Insurrection Act to silence dissent should he win
And other blood-curdling plans from Project 2025, the far-right's blueprint for an American dictatorship.
Over the weekend, The Washington Post reported on Donald Trump’s plans should he win the 2024 election: They include remaking the Justice Department entirely in his own image as a tool of control over American citizens’ lives—and of retribution against his political enemies.
That means not only investigations of Joe Biden and top Democrats but, as the Post reports, investigations of his former chief of staff, John Kelly, former Joint Chiefs chairman, General Mark Milley, and former attorney general, Bill Barr, all of whom Trump views as turncoats.
To facilitate Trump’s ability to direct Justice Department actions, his associates have been drafting plans to dispense with 50 years of policy and practice intended to shield criminal prosecutions from political considerations. Critics have called such ideas dangerous and unconstitutional.
“It would resemble a banana republic if people came into office and started going after their opponents willy-nilly,” said Saikrishna Prakash, a constitutional law professor at the University of Virginia who studies executive power. “It’s hardly something we should aspire to.”
As the Post reports, almost all of the planning for a second term has been handed over to right-wing think tanks—over 70 of them—who’ve come together under the Heritage Foundation’s Project 2025, a breathtaking 900-plus page document dubbed "The 2025 Presidential Transition Project.” You can read it all here. With so much focus on Trump investigations and trials, there’s been little attention to what Trump is actually planning for a second term and who is working with him—and not much reporting on Project 2025.
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The director of Project 2025, Paul Dans, proudly boasts that Project 2025 is “systematically preparing to march into office and bring a new army of aligned, trained, and essentially weaponized conservatives ready to do battle against the deep state.”
The project is actually ongoing and revised over time. Russ Vought, Trump’s former budget director who now leads another extremist think tank, the Center for Renewing America, is focused on the remake of the DOJ, arguing that the independence the DOJ has traditionally had is not based in law or the Constitution and should be under full control of the president. As the Post reports, “Vought is in regular contact with Trump and would be expected to hold a major position in a second term.”
“The group is developing a plan, to include draft executive orders, that would deploy the military domestically under the Insurrection Act,” the Post reports, “according to a person involved in those conversations and internal communications reviewed by the Post.”
Former DOJ official Jeffrey Clark is a fellow at Vought’s think tank—yes, the same Jeffrey Clark who is a co-defendant with Trump and 17 others in the Fulton County, Georgia case in which they’re charged with attempting to overturn the 2020 election—and is actually leading the work on the Insurrection Act under Project 2025.
The law from 1871 authorizes the president to use the military if there is what the president perceives as civil unrest. Trump wanted to use it before, both during the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020 and after he lost the election, but backed down under pressure from those around him. Trump’s new team—extremists and sycophants with no restraint, like Clark—is developing plans on how to implement the Insurrection Act and squelch dissent immediately, including on Inauguration Day 2025.
Clark, as we all remember, pressured the acting attorney general after the 2020 election to investigate bogus fraud claims in Georgia and pushed state officials to submit fake certificates to the electoral college. Trump was set on actually replacing the acting attorney general with Clark, until Trump was threatened with a mass exodus of officials from the DOJ in protest in his final days.
According to the indictment, the deputy White House counsel warned Clark that if Trump refused to leave office, there would be “riots in every major city.” And Clark responded,“That’s why there’s an Insurrection Act.”
Again, Project 2025 is just over 900 pages and focused on how the extreme right would control all aspects of American politics, culture, and life, giving enormous power to the president—embracing the unitary executive theory that has been pushed by hard-right conservatives for years—which is nothing short of a dictatorship.
As an example, on sexuality, gender, and LGBTQ issues, Kevin Roberts, the president of the Heritage Foundation, states in the Project 2025 introduction:
Children suffer the toxic normalization of transgenderism, with drag queens and pornography invading their school libraries.
Pornography, manifested today in the omnipresent propagation of transgender ideology and sexualization of children, for instance, is not a political Gordian knot inextricably binding up disparate claims about free speech, property rights, sexual liberation, and child welfare. It has no claim to first amendment protection.
What does Roberts decree the penalties for “pornography” should be?
[Pornography] purveyors are child predators and misogynistic exploiters of women. Their product is as addictive as any illicit drug and as psychologically destructive as any crime. Pornography should be outlawed. The people who produce and distribute it should be imprisoned. Educators and public librarians who purvey it should be classed as registered sex offenders. And telecommunications and technology firms that facilitate its spread should be shuttered.
The document calls for rescinding all regulations that protect against discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity and basically calls for criminalizing transgender people.
All of that is just the very tip of the iceberg. In every arena of American political and cultural life, Project 2025 pushes a dark plan for a theocratic dictatorial government—House Speaker Mike Johnson’s wet dream—and if Trump wins, Trump will be the dictator in chief.
We can talk a lot about Trump’s trials and possible convictions, but with the election now exactly one year away, we should be hyper-focused on Trump's and the far-right's plans, including Project 2025 and, more so, how to further expose and counter it.