On Nov. 30, Washington Post Editor-at-Large Robert Kagan wrote an extended opinion piece arguing that Donald Trump is on a "clear path" to establishing a dictatorship in this country, and that because the Republican Party and what were once "conservative" establishments are backing him from every side there would be little possibility of stopping him should he win reelection.
There would be no real checks on that power. At most, Kagan suggested, Democratic state governments could wage legal resistance to new federal mandates as "a form of nullification." They could "refuse to recognize the authority of a tyrannical federal government" in some limited situations. An example might be state refusals to abide the promised "mass deportation" of millions of residents, many of them American citizens from birth.
But Kagan darkly concluded that Trump could soon have the power to jail his political opponents, purge government workers who do not pass Trump-centric loyalty tests, and make good on all the other dictatorial threats he and his Republican allies have vowed to make happen.
On Wednesday, Republican Sen. J.D. Vance sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland and Secretary of State Antony Blinken asking that Kagan be investigated and potentially jailed for writing the editorial, which Vance suggested could be "an invitation to 'insurrection,' a manifestation of criminal 'conspiracy,' or an attempt to bring about civil war."
You do not need to wonder whether Trump will have Republican Party support for his plan to jail political detractors and scrub free-speech protections for the press. Other Republicans are even more eager than he is.
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It's not every day that the House expels one of its own, so of course we're talking about George Santos getting the boot on this week's episode of The Downballot. Co-hosts David Nir and David Beard discuss the deep fracture inside the GOP that the expulsion vote, then handicap the special election to replace Congress' newest ex-member. They also dive into the absolutely wild New York Times report detailing how former Rep. Tom Suozzi had to grovel before Gov. Kathy Hochul to earn her approval to run in that February election.