Trump examined as an authoritarian 'strongman' in brutal NYT analysis of his strategy to stay in power
US President Donald Trump (right) and Russia's President Vladimir Putin talk during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders' summit in the central Vietnamese city of Danang on November 11, 2017 (AFP Photo/JORGE SILVA)

President Donald Trump was compared to some of the world's most infamous authoritarians in an New York Times analysis by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer David Sanger.

"President Trump’s order to his secretary of state to declassify thousands of Hillary Clinton’s emails, along with his insistence that his attorney general issue indictments against Barack Obama and Joseph R. Biden Jr., takes his presidency into new territory — until now, occupied by leaders with names like Putin, Xi and Erdogan," Sanger wrote.

"Mr. Trump has long demanded — quite publicly, often on Twitter — that his most senior cabinet members use the power of their office to pursue political enemies. But his appeals this week, as he trailed badly in the polls and was desperate to turn the national conversation away from the coronavirus, were so blatant that one had to look to authoritarian nations to make comparisons," he explained.

"Mr. Trump’s vision of the presidency has always leaned to exercising the absolute powers of the chief executive, a writ-large version of the family business he presided over," Sanger wrote. "He is making it clear that prosecutions, like vaccines for the coronavirus, are useless to him if they come after Nov. 3. He has declared, without evidence, that there is already plenty of proof that Mr. Obama, Mr. Biden and Mrs. Clinton, among others, were fueling the charges that his campaign had links to Russia — what he calls “the Russia hoax.” And he has pressured his secretary of state to agree to release more of Mrs. Clinton’s emails before the election, reprising a yearslong fixation despite having defeated her four years ago."

The interference is unprecedented.

"Presidential historians say there is no case in modern times where the president has so plainly used his powers to take political opponents off the field — or has been so eager to replicate the behavior of strongmen," Sanger wrote. "Long ago, White House officials learned how to avoid questions about whether the president views his powers as fundamentally more constrained than those of the authoritarians he so often casts in admiring terms, including Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, Xi Jinping of China and Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. They have something in common: Mr. Trump’s State Department has criticized all three for corrupting the justice systems in their countries to pursue political enemies."