The New York Times has a long piece describing a new schism between coup plotter Donald Trump's remaining allies and the Federalist Society, the group that has successfully dominated Republican legal theories and judicial nominations through multiple presidencies.
There may be no other recent Times article that so cleanly demonstrates the Times' failure to comprehend or contextualize a Republican Party that very nearly succeeded in overturning a U.S. presidential election rather than admitting defeat. This may be the most dodging, deflection-riddled, and cowardly political piece the Times has published in the last decade. It is misleading to the point of being propaganda itself. It will only be luck if the Times' continued editorial gutlessness in painting all the markers of a war on American democracy as mere tittering partisanship does not once again lead to bloodshed.
The piece is titled "Trump’s Allies Want a New Style of Lawyer if He Returns to Power," and it is blunt enough about what sort of lawyer Trump's allies are trying to find:
The allies have been drawing up lists of lawyers they view as ideologically and temperamentally suited to serve in a second Trump administration. Their aim is to reduce the chances that politically appointed lawyers would frustrate a more radical White House agenda — as they sometimes did when Mr. Trump was in office, by raising objections to his desires for certain harsher immigration policies or for greater personal control over the Justice Department, among others.
Among the named allies are Stephen Miller, John McEntee, and Russell Vought. The goal is to rid any future Republican government of conservative enemies who are unwilling to help Trump commit acts they believe, based on their own legal research and expertise, to be criminal.
People close to the former president say they are seeking out a different type of lawyer committed to his “America First” ideology and willing to endure the personal and professional risks of association with Mr. Trump. They want lawyers in federal agencies and in the White House who are willing to use theories that more establishment lawyers would reject to advance his cause. This new mind-set matches Mr. Trump’s declaration that he is waging a “final battle” against demonic “enemies” populating a “deep state” within the government that is bent on destroying America.
Fascism. The word the Times is looking for but cannot find is "fascism." This is not a loaded word but a plainly descriptive one. It refers to a movement of supposed national "rebirth" that believes a nation's existing laws are too hindering and a nation's internal enemies too entrenched and devious to dislodge except by national purge, legal or not.
It claims religious justification for its methods and blames immigrants, educators, sexual "deviants," other religions, "socialists," journalists, and too-meek systems of justice for the supposed downfall of a "legitimate" national culture and citizenry. It winks at violence committed in the movement's name, celebrating those who engage in violence as supposed martyrs and proclaiming that their prosecutions are illegitimate. And it lies with abandon, seeking to dominate the national culture with hoaxes that benefit it rather than truths that do not.
This is not a fucking game. If the Times cannot stomach its reporters looking squarely into the historic moment after the first presidentially led violent attempt to topple the national government in this nation's history, there are any number of historians and experts who will say the "fascism" word, and quite loudly, without the Times having to admit to having the slightest bit of such wisdom itself. Pick up a phone; get your quote.
But the premise of the entire article is not hidden, even if it is danced around for paragraphs of euphemisms seemingly designed to misdirect readers into believing this to be party politics as usual, another sneering spat among the dinner-party crowd. That premise is that Trump's allies are focused on finding teams of pliant lawyers who would replace "establishment" conservatives who balked when Trump, Miller, or others in his administration proposed committing crimes.
This is not theoretical, either. The Trump administration closed with a furious interdepartmental debate as to whether the administration's vice president could nullify an American election by fiat, whether the president could then seize voting machines in multiple states and order a federally overseen do-over election, and whether the United States military would be used to enforce any such orders. The defining frustration of the Trump allies leading this charge is that conservative lawyers thwarted an attempted coup.
The word is fascism.
There were a few lawyers like that in Mr. Trump’s administration, but they were largely outnumbered, outranked and often blocked by more traditional legal conservatives. For those who went to work for Mr. Trump but grew disillusioned, the push to systematically install Trump loyalists who may see the law as malleable across a second Trump administration has been a cause for alarm.
There are words for those who see laws as even more "malleable" than even the most hardcore members of the rest of the conservative movement are willing to stomach. It isn't "America First," and it isn't "loyalists." Sweet merciful crap, does the Times have access to any foreign journalists who might be able to weigh in here?
[A]fter both the legal policy fights inside the Trump administration and the refusal by the group’s most respected luminaries to join Mr. Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, the phrase “Federalist Society” became a slur for some on the Trump-aligned right, a shorthand for a kind of lawyerly weakness.
So the whole fight is, in fact, a battle to find new lawyers who will not balk in assisting an attempted coup. Trump allies are looking, specifically, for those willing to engage in sedition.
Mr. Miller, who is not a lawyer, is known for his vehement opposition to immigration. Mr. Mitnick and Mr. Miller are said to have clashed, directly and indirectly, over legal risks raised by regulatory and policy actions emanating from the White House, including separating migrant children from their parents and transporting migrants to so-called sanctuary cities.
A willingness to commit illegal acts and possible international crimes against refugees. There is a word for that.
One first-term Trump lawyer who would most likely serve in a second term is Mark Paoletta, who served as general counsel at the Office of Management and Budget and worked closely with Mr. Vought, the agency’s director. The O.M.B. team saw itself as an island of facilitators within an executive branch they believed was too quick to tell Mr. Trump that his ideas were unachievable or illegal.
We close out with as brazen a reference to fascist rule as any of the seditious backers of Trump's attempted coup have uttered. It is the fascist creed: In "extraordinary times," meaning even the slightest or most momentary loss of cultural influence, "legal creativity" is justified as means of righting what elections and democracy have injured, meaning it’s time to seize law enforcement powers and bend them into tools of the ruling party.
[Now-indicted former Trump Justice Department official Jeffrey] Clark will most likely be in contention for a senior Justice Department position in any second Trump administration, depending on the outcome of his legal travails. He has written a constitutional analysis, titled “The U.S. Justice Department Is Not Independent,” that amounts to an intellectual blueprint for direct presidential control of federal law enforcement.
He declined to comment. On a conservative podcast last year, Mr. Clark said that “extraordinary times call for extraordinary, responsive legal creativity.”
Allies to Donald Trump, an alleged felon who led an attempted coup that would have seen the nullification of a U.S. presidential election and the invocation of martial law, express the necessity of purging government of conservative quislings, seizing direct control over the Justice Department and other federal law enforcement, and undertaking a systemic overhaul of government centered around policies that the to-be-purged current government officials have repeatedly warned of as "illegal."
It is a fascist agenda. Say the word. And stop couching the radical nature of a "movement" that attempted to justify the overthrow of the United States government as a tittering fight between B-ranked political celebrities. If you cannot tell the difference between ongoing seditious acts and Mar-a-Lago small talk, Times editors, then relinquish your posts to any of the hundreds of experts and journalists who can. This historic moment is not one that can abide your eternal recklessness and cowardice.
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