If Trump Wins

By Charlie SavageJonathan Swan, and Maggie Haberman, The New York Times, June 18, 2024.

Donald Trump and his closest allies are preparing a radical reshaping of American government if he regains the White House. Here are some of his plans for cracking down on immigration, directing the Justice Department to prosecute his adversaries, increasing presidential power, upending America’s economic policies, retreating militarily from Europe and unilaterally deploying troops to Democratic-run cities.

Crack down on illegal immigration to an extreme degree

Mr. Trump is planning a massive expansion of his first-term crackdown on immigration if he returns to power in 2025. Among other things, he would:

1. Carry out mass deportations

Mr. Trump’s top immigration adviser, Stephen Miller, said that a second Trump administration would seek a tenfold increase in the volume of deportations — to more than a million per year.

2. Increase the number of agents for ICE raids

He plans to reassign federal agents and the National Guard to immigration control. He would also enable the use of federal troops to apprehend migrants.

3. Build camps to detain immigrants

The Trump team plans to use military funds to build “vast holding facilities” to detain immigrants while their deportation cases progress.

4. Push for other countries to take would-be asylum seekers from the United States

He plans to revive “safe third country” agreements with Central American countries and expand them to Africa and elsewhere. The aim is to send people seeking asylum to other countries.

5. Once again ban entry into the United States by people from certain Muslim-majority nations

He plans to suspend the nation’s refugee program and once again bar visitors from mostly Muslim countries, reinstating a version of the travel ban that President Biden revoked in 2021.

6. Try to end “birthright citizenship”

His administration would declare that children born to undocumented parents were not entitled to citizenship and would cease issuing documents like Social Security cards and passports to them.

Use the Justice Department to prosecute his adversaries

Mr. Trump has declared that he would use the powers of the presidency to seek vengeance on his perceived foes. His allies have developed a legal rationale to erase the Justice Department’s independence from the president. Mr. Trump has suggested that he would:

1. Direct a criminal investigation into Mr. Biden and his family

As president, Mr. Trump pressed the Justice Department to investigate his foes. If re-elected, he has vowed to appoint a special prosecutor “to go after” Mr. Biden and his family.

2. Have foes indicted for challenging him politically

He has cited the precedent of his own indictments to declare that if he became president again and someone challenged him politically, he could say, “Go down and indict them.”

3. Target journalists for prosecution

Kash Patel, a Trump confidant, has threatened to target journalists for prosecution if Mr. Trump returns to power. The campaign later distanced Mr. Trump from the remarks.

Increase presidential power

Mr. Trump and his associates have a broad goal to alter the balance of power by increasing the president’s authority over every part of the federal government that currently operates independently of the White House. Mr. Trump has said that he will:

1. Bring independent agencies under presidential control

Congress has set up various regulatory agencies to operate independently from the White House. Mr. Trump has vowed to bring them under presidential control, setting up a potential court fight.

2. Revive the practice of “impounding” funds

He has vowed to return to a system under which the president has the power to refuse to spend money that Congress has appropriated for programs the president doesn’t like.

3. Strip employment protections from tens of thousands of longtime civil servants

During Mr. Trump’s presidency, he issued an executive order making it easier to fire career officials and replace them with loyalists. Mr. Biden rescinded it, but Mr. Trump has said that he would reissue it in a second term.

4. Purge officials from intelligence agencies, law enforcement, the State Department and the Pentagon

Mr. Trump has disparaged the career work force at agencies involved in national security and foreign policy as an evil “deep state” he intends to destroy.

5. Appoint lawyers who would bless his agenda as lawful

Politically appointed lawyers in the first Trump administration sometimes raised objections to White House proposals. Several of his closest advisers are now vetting lawyers seen as more likely to embrace aggressive legal theories about the scope of his power.

Upend trade and other economic policies

At the risk of disrupting the economy in hopes of transforming it, Mr. Trump plans to impose new tariffs on most goods manufactured abroad. Economists say his broader agenda – including on trade, deportations and taxes – could cause prices to rise. He has said that he will:

1. Impose a “universal baseline tariff,” a new tax on most imported goods

Mr. Trump has said that he plans to impose a tariff on most goods made overseas, floating a figure of 10 percent for a new import tax. On top of raising prices for consumers, such a policy would risk a global trade war that hurts American exporters.

2. Implement steep new trade restrictions on China

He has said that he will “phase out all Chinese imports” of electronics and other essential goods, and impose new rules to stop U.S. companies from making investments in China. The two countries are the largest economies in the world and exchange hundreds of billions of dollars of goods each year.

3. Slash rules imposed on business interests

He has vowed to revive his deregulatory agenda and go further in curbing the so-called administrative state – agencies that issue rules for corporations such as limits aimed at keeping the air and water clean and ensuring that food, drugs, cars and consumer products safe, but that can cut into business profits.

4. Extend and expand tax cuts

Mr. Trump has said he would extend the tax cuts from his 2017 tax law that are set to expire, including for all levels of personal income and for large estates. He also privately told business leaders he wants to further lower the corporate tax rate.

Retreat from military engagement with Europe

Mr. Trump has long made clear that he sees NATO, the country’s most important military alliance, not as a force multiplier with allies but as a drain on American resources by freeloaders. He has said he will:

1. Potentially undercut NATO or withdraw the United States from the alliance

While in office, he threatened to withdraw from NATO. On his campaign website, he says he plans to fundamentally re-evaluate NATO’s purpose, fueling anxiety that he could gut or end the alliance.

2. Settle the Russia-Ukraine war “in 24 hours”

He has claimed that he would end the war in Ukraine in a day. He has not said how, but he has suggested that he would have made a deal to prevent the war by letting Russia simply take Ukrainian lands.

Use military force in Mexico and on American soil

Mr. Trump has been more clear about his plans for using U.S. military force closer to home. He has said that he would:

1. Declare war on drug cartels in Mexico

He has released a plan to fight Mexican drug cartels with military force. It would violate international law if the United States used armed forces on Mexico’s soil without its consent.

2. Use federal troops at the border

While it’s generally illegal to use the military for domestic law enforcement, the Insurrection Act creates an exception. The Trump team would invoke it to use soldiers as immigration agents.

3. Use federal troops in Democratic-controlled cities

He came close to unleashing the active-duty military on racial justice protests that sometimes descended into riots in 2020 and remains attracted to the idea. Next time, he has said, he will unilaterally send federal forces to bring order to Democratic-run cities.

 Image Credits: Haiyun Jiang for The New York Times

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