In an editorial for The Atlantic, Ronald Brownstein writes about President Trump’s weaponization of the federal government, which one expert described as the the beginning of a police state.
- The president’s practice of enlisting government agencies to suit his political aspirations has razed barriers between his political and personal interests and the operations of the federal government. He is the first president to flagrantly flout his influence over these agencies to suit his desires.
- Paul Light, a public-service professor at New York University, told Brownstein:
“There’s always been temptation … but no president in modern times has taken action so explicitly and obviously—or transparently—to influence and actually direct these agencies to favor the party in power.”
- Regarding Trump’s use of federal agents this summer as a weapon against his political enemies, Light said the move was “shocking,” adding that to do so over the objections of mayors “does resemble the early days of a police state, I’m sorry to say it.”
- While presidents in the past have rewarded supporters with government positions, it's never been done with the intention of using the agencies to support the president’s immediate interests. Walter Shaub, the director of the Office of Government Ethics under former President Barack Obama, said:
“All of it comes from a place that whatever is in his personal interest—whether it’s financial, reputational, or political—if it benefits him, the government is merely a tool for serving himself. He has simply crossed lines that no one would even conceive of crossing in the past.”
- From attacking the postal service to deploying federal agents into cities to stop protesters, President Trump has had no qualms about manipulating facets of the government to suit his needs, and if he wins a second term, “he is likely to push much further in refashioning the federal government for his own ends.”