President Donald Trump is running out of ways to overturn his election loss to Joe Biden, but he still has nearly two months to undermine the next administration.
The president is fading away from television and Twitter as his election challenges fail in court, but Trump biographer Tim O'Brien wrote for Bloomberg that his administration has many opportunities to cause chaos and pain for their predecessors.
"Executive orders can be unwound, of course, and policies eventually can be retrofitted by the Biden team, but some of Trump’s personnel moves may be longer-lasting," O'Brien wrote. "For all of its complaints about a 'deep state' of civil servants set against it in the federal bureaucracy, the Trump White House has been determined to leave an indelible imprint on the federal workforce. It has hollowed out agencies such as the State Department and Justice Department, and spread Trump loyalists across the rest of the government and federal judiciary — some of whom may prove hard for Biden to ignore, much less dislodge."
Trump loyalists have been making last-minute changes in the Defense Department, where newly nominated secretary Christopher Miller has been rushing troop drawdowns, and the Justice Department, where attorney general Bill Barr has long run interference for the president.
"It’s possible that Barr could use his agency’s Office of Legal Counsel to draft memos in coming weeks that protect Trump from future Biden administration investigations," O'Brien wrote. "What about recordkeeping? I imagine Barr and others in the executive branch might tell the West Wing that, despite the legal perils, it’s well within the president’s rights to shred or retain files that outsiders, such as law enforcement officials, journalists and historians, might otherwise want preserved."
Previous outgoing presidents have also set in motion plans to thwart their successor, but this president has spent nearly four years shattering norms and flouting traditions.
"As with all things in the Trump era, the wrecking ball is now swinging with far more force," O'Brien wrote. "What began with Trump’s efforts to overturn a presidential election will end in a flood of policy and personnel decisions grounded in resentment and retribution."