Donald Ayer, a former deputy attorney general during the George HW Bush administration, sounded a particularly dire alarm and told the publication that "of all the many reasons Donald Trump’s candidacy should be rejected out of hand, none is more important than his utter disdain for the rule of law – the idea that we are a society governed by rules and not by the will of one person.'"
Ayer did not hold back, painting Trump as an existential threat to the country.
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“In his first term, aided by attorney general William Barr, who made a pretense of believing in even-handed justice, Trump was still able to grossly misuse the Department of Justice as a political campaign tool, to do favors for his friends, and to seriously undermine the separation of powers," said Ayer. “There would be no arguable adults in the room in a second Trump DoJ. Beyond pardons for the January 6 criminals and politically motivated prosecutions, one can expect a broader pattern of abuses aimed at securing his autocratic power.”
Notably, even Barr, whom Ayer praised, spent much of his time weaponizing the Justice Department for political use, particularly trying to bury the conclusions of the Mueller report, but he drew the line at using it to overturn the electoral process.
Trump has already hinted he will go much further, the report noted, by holding a rally in Waco, Texas, as a dark nod to far-right antigovernment extremists who use the Branch Davidian siege as a rallying cry for domestic terrorism. He has also outlined a plan to roll back merit reforms at the civil service so he can purge career government officials who are disloyal to him, which was thwarted when he left office but could be reinstated if he returns.
“If Trump were re-elected, we can look forward to a swift and deep decline in the rule of law,” former DOJ inspector general Michael Bromwich told The Guardian. “Top levels of the DoJ would be staffed with election deniers; there would be a wholesale exodus of talented career personnel from every division of DoJ; and large numbers of January 6 insurrectionists would be pardoned. After four more years, the Department of Justice as we know it would be in tatters.”
All of this comes as Trump faces criminal indictment in New York for business fraud, and as he increasingly anticipates charges in the federal investigation of classified documents hoarded at his Mar-a-Lago country club.