Analyst paints a nightmarish portrait of Trump's second term when he won't have to worry about running again
Donald Trump (Photo by Saul Loeb for AFP)

In an expansive piece for the Atlantic, Brookings Institute fellow Jonathan Rauch painted a nightmarish portrait of what a second Donald Trump presidential term would like when he would not be constrained to moderate his actions because he won't be able to run for a third term.

According to the analyst, Trump and his closest supporters have been telegraphing how they would use the levers of power should he be returned to the Oval Office with vengeance on his mind and four years of experience in dealing with bureaucracy learned the hard way.

As Rauch notes, one need only look at the administration of Hungarian strongman Viktor Orbán.

"Combining populist rhetoric with machine politics, he and his party, Fidesz, have rotted Hungarian democracy from within by politicizing media regulation, buying or bankrupting independent media outlets, appointing judges who toe the party line, creating obstacles for opposition parties, and more," writes Rauch. "Hungary has not gone from democracy to dictatorship, but it has gone from democracy to democracy-ish."

READ MORE: 'Poison for the republic': Rick Wilson scorches 'DC elites' for being too afraid of Trump's violent supporters

In the case of Trump, Rausch speculated the former president will stock his key administration positions with "toadies," will purge federal workers and replace them right-wing ideologues and will co-opt the military while ignoring the courts when it suits him.

"Upon regaining the White House, the president systematically and unabashedly nominates personal loyalists, with or without qualifications, to Senate-confirmed jobs. Assisted by the likes of Johnny McEntee, a White House aide during his first term, and Kash Patel, a Pentagon staffer, he appoints officials willing to purge conscientious civil servants, neutralize or fire inspectors general, and ignore or overturn inconvenient rules," he predicts, before adding, "On day one of his second term, Trump signs an executive order reinstating an innovation he calls Schedule F federal employment. This designation would effectively turn tens of thousands of civil servants who have a hand in shaping policy into at-will employees.... Career civil servants have always been supervised by political appointees, and, within the boundaries of law and regulation, so they should be. Schedule F, however, gives Trump a new way to threaten bureaucrats with retaliation and termination if they resist or question him. The result is to weaken an important institutional safeguard against Trump’s demands to do everything from harass his enemies to alter weather forecasts."

He explains that Trump will likely look for military leaders loyal to him and promote them up the Pentagon food chain to positions of influence, before suggesting, "Within a couple of years, the military will grow used to acting as a political instrument for the White House."

More concerning, he wrote, will be Trump's utter contempt for the law as he ignores court decisions and refuses to comply while having his DOJ contest and drag out legal squabbles while he gets his way.

"Naturally, the president’s corrupt and lawless actions incite a blizzard of lawsuits. Members of Congress sue to block illegal appointments, interest groups sue to overturn corrupt rulemaking, targets of investigations sue to quash subpoenas, and so on," Rauch wrote. "Yet having been reinstated and never again to face voters, Trump now has no compunctions. The courts’ orders, he claims, are illegitimate machinations of Democrats and the “deep state.” Ordered to reinstate an illegally fired inspector general, the Justice Department nonetheless bars her from the premises. Ordered to rescind an improperly adopted regulation, the Department of Homeland Security continues to enforce it. Ordered to provide documents to Congress, the National Archives shrugs."

He then warned that a complicit Republican Party will stand aside as he runs roughshod during his last years in office.

"At first, the president’s lawlessness seems shocking. Yet soon, as Republicans defend it, the public grows acclimated. To salvage what it can of its authority, the Supreme Court accommodates Trump more than the other way around. It becomes gun-shy about crossing him," he wote before adding, "And so we arrive: With the courts relegated to advisory status, the rule of law no longer obtains. In other words, America is no longer a liberal democracy, and by this point, there is not much anyone can do about it."

You can read more here.