In a lot of ways, it’s a dream job: good pay, great benefits, lots of power, and the ability to break the law with impunity. All it requires is surrendering your soul to Donald Trump.
Axios reports that Trump is laying out his plans for assembling a new Cabinet. Those plans are centered around one thing: loyalty to Trump. Experience is not a requirement. Knowledge is not a requirement. And certainly, morality is right out. What Trump wants is a Cabinet willing to, in Axios’ words, “stretch legal and governance boundaries.”
Someone who wants to be a dictator “on day one” is recruiting a Cabinet of thugs willing to break the law to enforce his will. And some of those potential Cabinet members are already bragging about just how far they will go to protect Trump’s authoritarian rule.
The Axios article lays out not just Trump’s single requirement for potential cabinet members but also a list of goals at the top of their agenda: jail perceived opponents (including critics, government officials, and journalists), create vast internment camps for immigrants, and invade Mexico. At the same time, they would revise—or simply ignore—rules about tenure, hiring, and job requirements, allowing them to purge the government of career workers and restaff with those loyal to the regime.
The election results in 2016 were a shock to almost everyone, Trump included. He was clearly unprepared to select Cabinet members and still uncertain about his authority. Trump was reportedly “surprised” at the scope of his duties and didn’t realize that his transition team would be charged with replacing the existing White House staff. Trump’s transition team was forced to turn to officials from Barack Obama’s administration to learn about the necessary positions.
Trump’s transition team was a mixture of budding Trump loyalists—like Rudy Giuliani, retired Army General Michael Flynn, and then-Rep. Marsha Blackburn—and Republicans like Chris Christie, then governor of New Jersey, who would never quite agree to down the full cup of Kool-Aid. With former Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus nudging him along, Trump made choices that seemed primarily focused on finding the options that he thought would most piss off liberals, like putting coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency or turning over the State Department to Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson.
Even then, it was all Trump’s team could manage to keep the top chairs filled with appointees and “acting” appointees. Three years into Trump’s reign, Politico reported that agencies were still pockmarked with unfilled positions. Even at that point, 170 out of 714 “key positions” had no nominee.
Trump was unprepared, his team was inexperienced, and neither of them understood the vital roles that these appointees played. As a result, Politico said that the missing staff positions “limited Trump’s influence.”
That’s why a large focus of both Trump’s Agenda47 and the Heritage Foundation’s Project 2025 is on preselecting and pretraining those who would take those key positions should Trump return to power. If Trump is going to be a dictator on day one, he’ll need the crew necessary to turn his dictates into action.
Some of those who are bragging about their positions in a coming Trump dictatorship are Stephen Miller, Sen. J.D. Vance, and former Trump administration official Kash Patel. Axios also reports that Steve Bannon may come along to sweat on the White House upholstery.
Patel has been explicit in saying that he expects to be director of the CIA. And, as The New York Times reports, he is relishing the idea of using the power of the intelligence community to go after journalists. “We will go out and find the conspirators, not just in government but in the media,” said Patel. “Yes, we’re going to come after the people in the media who lied about American citizens, who helped Joe Biden rig presidential elections — we’re going to come after you.”
Patel’s threats disregard both the First Amendment and limits on the ability of intelligence agencies to spy on American citizens. However, when it comes to existing rules and regulations … Trump doesn’t care. When it comes to the law, he’s already made it clear that he has a pardon pen at the ready. In his first visit to the Oval Office, Trump pardoned or commuted sentences for Flynn, Steve Bannon, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, Dinesh D’Souza, Conrad Black, George Papadopoulos, Christopher Collins, Paul Erickson, Robert Hayes, George Gilmore, William “Ed” Henry, and Steve Stockman. For friends of Trump, laws are simply not an obstacle. That will be even more true if he’s given a chance for a do-over.
Axios notes that while Trump hasn’t settled on specific names for most positions, he has his eye on a group that is “almost all older, white men” whom he sees as loyal enough to fill slots in a second Trump Cabinet. These are not people who have experience in government. There are no John Kellys in this group, and Trump is done with expressing his love for “my generals.” These are straight-up Trump loyalists who are prepared to be yes-men—no matter what the question is.
More women appear when it comes to whom Trump is considering for a running mate. The list includes delusional former weathercaster and failed Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, Trump devotee Marjorie Taylor Greene, and fancy podium-owner and Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders. The list of VP potentials also includes former Fox News pundit Tucker Carlson—though there are signals that Trump considers Carlson a risky choice because he has too many followers of his own.
How bad could another Trump administration be? Try out this prospective list:
Attorney general: Stephen Miller or Jeffrey Clark
Chief of staff: Steve Bannon
CIA director: Kash Patel or John Ratcliffe
Secretary of state: Ric Grenell or Jared Kushner
Defense secretary: John Ratcliffe or Sen. Tom Cotton
If it seems like any of these names might be hard to push through a Senate that maintains even a minority of Democrats, don’t worry—Trump has already said he’s willing to stick with acting Cabinet positions and skip Senate confirmation.
In 2016, Trump’s transition team was hastily assembled, and there were still some involved who tried to select staffers based on a perception of experience or skill. That won’t happen a second time around. There also won’t be any open slots or concerns about career employees trying to enforce the law. Everything will be filled, top to bottom, with the most frothing Trump loyalists with just one purpose: to make sure he never hears the word “no.”
The 2025 Trump transition team is already engaged. Should Trump win, they will be ready for America’s last peaceful transition of power.
Markos and Kerry give their thoughts on what the country is facing in 2024. The Republican Party is running on losing issues like abortion and repealing the ACA—with no explanation of what they plan on replacing it with. Trump has a lot of criming to atone for, and the Republican platform remains set on destroying democracy.