While President Joe Biden has only been in office for six months, President Donald Trump is already playing with the idea that he will run again in 2024. He's begun hosting rallies again and promoting his lie that he really won the election, despite agreeing with Sean Hannity "we didn't win" in 2020.
Writing for CNN.com, Historian Ruth Ben-Ghiat explained that people like Trump, authoritarian leaders, are focused on one thing: self-preservation.
"They need to cover up their corruption and crime, so they politicize the justice system, surround themselves with loyalists and target people who can expose their wrongdoing," said Ben-Ghiat. "The targeting of journalists, prosecutors and opposition politicians by the Trump administration is consistent with the behind-the-scenes actions of foreign autocrats, as is the clandestine digging into the personal lives of individuals in their inner circle who won't break the law for them."
The idea that Trump got warrants to spy on White House Counsel Don McGahan and his wife, eight national security reporters, members of Congress, their staffs and families, are just business as usual for authoritarian leaders.
"It also makes sense that the Department [of Justice] justified the seizure as related to a 'criminal investigation into the unauthorized disclosure of classified information,'" she also wrote. "Using the law as a weapon to harass journalists and turn them into criminals in the public eye is a common autocratic move."
She cited New York Times reporter Eric Lichtblau, who warned that Trump's spying has a "chilling effect" on reporters and make sources much more fearful about speaking to them.
"Just ask Russian journalists where the demonization of journalists can lead," wrote Ben-Ghiat. "Two decades of Vladimir Putin's leadership has created a state in which repression enables kleptocracy and you can lose your life by writing about either."
While the United States is far from Russia, every person like Putin began somewhere and it begins with being granted power.