Authoritarianism of Donald Trump

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The smug look of a man who believes himself above the law.
See the main articles on this topic: Authoritarianism and Donald Trump
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Hail to the Chief?
Persons of interest
Nobody disobeys my orders.
—Trump during the 2019 White House Easter Egg Roll.[1]
When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it. Then they were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength. Our country is right now perceived as weak... as being spit on by the rest of the world.
—Donald Trump on the Tiananmen Square Massacre, 1990 Playboy interview.[2]

Various actions, beliefs, statements, and policies of Donald Trump can be described as authoritarian in nature.

Intimidation of the press[edit]

See the main articles on this topic: Fake newsTruthiness, and Freedom of speech

Even at home, two journalists named Alexei Wood and Aaron Cantú both faced 70 years in prison for bogus rioting charges while covering Trump's inauguration.[3][4][5][6][7]

It always begins with the press. Back in the primary, Trump's campaign banned a ton of reporters from his rallies,[8] put several media outlets on a blacklist,[9] restricted the movement of journalists (even putting them in a pen where his supporters could jeer and threaten then),[10] limited what reporters could actually cover,[11] and allowed his staffers or bodyguards to manhandle reporters (even including one from Breitbart).[12] Trump himself regularly fuels this anti-press hatred by bitterly and repeatedly denouncing them on Twitter or in rallies, thereby enhancing a threat to the freedom of the press.

Rep. Gianforte's mugshot. Another man who knows nothing can touch him.

This has a chilling trickle-down effect. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price had a reporter arrested for asking him a basic question.[13] Greg Gianforte, a Montana Republican candidate for the House of Representatives, bodyslammed a Guardian reporter, and was charged with assault on the eve of an election.[14]

In July 2017, Trump sent out a tweet implying that he endorsed violence against the press, specifically, CNN.[15] Senator Pat Toomey had a reporter arrested for asking a "threatening" question not too long after.[16] South Dakota-based state Republican Lynne DiSanto shortly after that endorsed vehicular manslaughter against protesters by making light of a pro-violence meme on Facebook.[17] A week after that, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin argued that NFL players can "have free speech on their own time" as they protested police brutality by sitting or kneeling during the National Anthem.[18] Robert Jeffress, an evangelical advisor to Trump, even said the players were lucky they weren't "shot in the head".[19]

In December 2017, reports surfaced of Trump considering hiring Erik Prince and Oliver North to create a private spy network to spy on the intelligence community. The "whole point" (direct quote) of such a private network is to give the paranoid President his own personal secret police coordinated by defense contractors under the direction of his sycophantic CIA Director (Mike Pompeo at that time).[20]

More and more Republican candidates in 2018, having faced tougher than expected primaries, have been emulating Donald Trump's authoritarian rhetoric and fascist scapegoating alongside his glorification of violence. These candidates are outright "echoing his xenophobia, his veiled racist appeals, his attacks on the news media, and even occasionally his calls for imprisoning his political opponents." Literal Neo-Nazis like Paul Nehlen, Arthur Jones, and Patrick Little tried to maneuver within the party to try to win their primaries for 2018 despite Republicans' desperate attempts to distance themselves from those people.[21]

North Carolina's GOP super majority (pre-2019) was especially prone to authoritarian rhetoric and actions in this era. A bunch of constitutional amendments put on the ballot in 2018 had their names revoked to prevent people from learning what they even do[22] and their leader was even floating the idea of impeaching state Supreme Court justices if they ruled against legislative leaders in a lawsuit over constitutional amendments. This was especially important because the person suing the GOP in this wanted justices to remove two of the six amendments that Republicans wanted on the ballot, claiming that the ballot language is misleading. One would remove governors' power to appoint members to hundreds of state boards and commissions and give it to the Legislature. The other would limit a governor's ability to make appointments to fill judicial vacancies and force them to seek approval from the legislature. [23]

When the media contradicts what Trump says, they are usually accused of spreading "fake news" whereas Trump’s lies are defended as "alternative facts", the single most Orwellian thing to ever appear in modern American society. Just like any strongman, Trump refuses to admit he is ever wrong or misinformed, and some within his party have even claimed that the President is the only credible source of information.[24]

Trump and Pence at the RNC.

After repeatedly calling the media "the enemy of the people", Trump banned The New York Times, Buzzfeed News, CNN, the BBC, the Los Angeles Times, and Politico from attending a so-called "gaggle" in Sean Spicer's office on January 24, 2017, which took the place of the normal daily press briefing. Instead, he allowed Breitbart, Fox News, the One America News Network, ABC, CBS, Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Times, all but four (ABC, Wall Street Journal (the news division), CBS, and Bloomberg) of which are practically pro-Trump propaganda outlets.[25]

This is another example of the power of rhetoric. Several authoritarian leaders in fifteen other countries began directly adopting Trump's "fake news" rhetoric to legitimize dissidents, much like how often governments began accusing their enemies of being terrorists in the wake of Bush's War on Terror. Trump is providing a context and framework for all sorts of authoritarian or democratic leaders, and others who are dissatisfied or upset by critical media coverage — to undermine and discredit reporting.[26] Federal agencies under Trump appointees have been purging even the mere mention of words like "climate", "warming", "planet", "sea levels", or even "temperature".[27]

This trickled down to his supporters. Milo Yiannopoulos, a well known Trump supporter, advocated for vigilante squads to gun down journalists.[28] [29] Two days later, an armed white gunman shot up a newspaper building and killed five reporters.[30] Sean Hannity, another Trump supporter, blamed an African American female Democrat for the shooting.[31] In August 2018, a Trump supporter called in to CSPAN and threatened to assassinate two CNN pundits, Don Lemon and Brian Stelter, for criticizing Trump voters. According to Stelter, this wasn't the first time they were threatened with death by Trump supporters.[32]

On Sunday 22 January, 2017, Trump's spokesman Sean Spicer denied reports about attendance at his inauguration being lower than that at Obama's inaugurations despite photographic evidence and evidence from Washington public transport for lower attendance. Spicer made unspecified threats to 'hold the press accountable.'[33] Trump added, "And I think they’re going to pay a big price."[34] On Monday 23 January, the war of words continued with widespread belief that the Trump team was lying. The credibility of presidential statements was put into question. Trump's team tried to convince people that lies are 'alternative facts'.[35][36][37]

Trump chose not to lower US flags held in federal buildings in honor of reporters shot to death by a gunman.[38]

Strongman envy[edit]

Trump with Kim at the Singapore Summit.

Trump has a thing for autocrats in general, praising Kim Jong-un as a gentleman,[39] Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for enshrining dictatorship into the Turkish constitution, Vladimir Putin for faintly complimenting him, Rodrigo Duterte for an extrajudicial drug war and martial law in a majority-Muslim province, Saddam Hussein for counter-terrorism, and even the Chinese government for the Tiananmen Square Massacre (equating that to "strength").

He sees power in the strongman, envies that power, relates to that power, and seeks to emulate that power, even though he ultimately cares little for their countries beyond any potential business ties that he may want from those autocrats.[40][41][42][43]

Demands for loyalty[edit]

Loyalty to authority is a predictor both support for authoritarianism[44] and for support for Trump.[45]

Trump hired a lobbyist to vet any and all State Department employees for their loyalty to the President, including verifying how far their policies differ from Trump (including searching through their social media to see if they've ever said anything anti-Trump).[46]

In a meeting with FBI Director Comey on January 27, 2017, shortly after inauguration, Trump unsuccessfully attempted to get Comey to pledge loyalty directly to Trump despite Comey's sworn loyalty to the Constitution. Comey was subsequently fired by Trump.[47]:3, 12, 24, 34-36, 47 74, 76, 82, 90 This was likely an attempt to obstruct justice by Trump.[47]:3, 7-8


Trump signs the Muslim travel ban.
See the main articles on this topic: Other and Moral panic
Trump reminded them the crowds loved his rhetoric on immigrants along the campaign trail. Acting as if he were at a rally, he recited a few made-up Hispanic names and described potential crimes they could have committed, such as rape or murder. Then, he said, the crowds would roar when the criminals were thrown out of the country — as they did when he highlighted crimes by illegal immigrants at his rallies, according to a person present for the exchange and another briefed on it later. [Stephen] Miller and [Jared] Kushner laughed.

Finding an enemy of whole groups of people is an easy way to get support from fringe extremists. Trump launched his campaign calling Mexicans criminals and rapists, and has spent at least half his presidency disparaging, mocking, and demeaning everyone else who offends him. By May 2018, however, he ramped up his scapegoating and repeatedly called certain criminal immigrants "animals". Removing the humanity of a person is incredibly dangerous, as it begins to build an impetus for whole groups, usually marginalized communities, to not only have their cries for help ignored, but regarded as "unhuman". Additionally, Trump's own incoherent language has prompted time-wasting arguments of what he really means; for instance, some moderates have interpreted his attack on Mexicans as "just the illegal immigrants and already-criminals" and the "animals" remark on just the Mexican MS-13 gang,[49] though the latter is not convincing. This is as much a trickle down effect as his spiels about the press and protesters, because calling some people from a group evil, claiming their evil justifies his policies, and conflating immigrants with Latinos and Latinos with criminals and criminals with animals will be a green light for his government to arrest or deport non-violent (even legal) immigrants with no criminal records.[50][51][52][53][54]

His recent rhetoric against gang members, for instance, spurred a "gang sweep" where unaccompanied teens with no gang ties were either being arrested or were in danger of being arrested by government officials who saw no difference between normal teens wearing certain clothes and gang members wearing those same clothes by coincidence.[55]

When Trump's policy of migrant family separation — a new policy unique to his administration — was confronted with immense public outrage, he doubled down and tripled down, saying he refused to let the country turn into a "migrant camp",[56] and accused immigrants of "infesting our country".[57][58][59] In just his second month of running for president in 2015, Trump said migrants were bringing "tremendous infectious disease" to the country.[60] The trickle-down effect is here yet again: migrant kids who were separated from their parents and detained can be heard wailing in agony at a Border Patrol facility, and a Border Patrol agent can be heard joking, "We have an orchestra here."[61] His Department of Health and Human Services stopped counting all the refugee families detained by federal authorities, potentially allowing for more abuses.[62] The forcible separation of children from their parents with potentially valid asylum claims is probably not a crime against humanity according to international law specialist David Luban of Georgetown Law because it likely does not meet the definition of "civilian population", though it is still a violation of human rights laws.[63]

Criminalizing protests[edit]

Trump and Pence at a memorial for fallen police officers.

Since Trump was elected, more than 20 states have proposed bills that would crack down on protests and demonstrations, in a move that UN experts have branded incompatible with US obligations under international human rights law. ALEC, a lobbying group funded by Koch Industries, is spearheading laws that increase penalties for protesting energy pipelines (or just protesting in large groups), ban protesters from wearing masks during demonstrations, and in some states, protect drivers from liability if they "accidentally" murder protesters. Bills that would give severe financial penalties or even jail time for obstructing streets and highways, trespassing near energy infrastructures, even make it illegal to "plan to conspire" to protest. There is no requirement of malicious intent, and planning a protest that involves trespass or other forms of lawbreaking counts as a conspiracy. Some CEOs such as Kelcy Warren have even said that people who disrupted the Dakota Access Pipeline should be "removed from the gene pool".[64] [65]

Under Trump's stewardship, the FBI has targeted black activist and protest movements by smearing them as "black identity extremists," and claiming "alleged" police abuses are "fueling more violence" from the black community. This is false on its face, but it isn't the first time the FBI has cracked down on civil disobedience from the working class.[66]

Internet censorship[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Censorship

Trump signed a bill that was supposed to curb sex trafficking sites, but it was written so broadly that it allows prosecutors to order the immediate shutdown of a site or parts of it that fail to monitor the already hard-to-monitor comments, who are accused of soliciting for sex work. The long-standing Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act has allowed the internet to thrive on user-generated content without holding platforms and ISPs responsible for whatever users might create. However, with Trump's FOSTA-SESTA act, an exemption was made for sex trafficking, and many backers of the bill (including Disney and Fox) are now more likely to try to shut down all their competitors online.[67]

Privatizing intelligence[edit]

In a military budget bill signed by the President, the law that first chartered the CIA "removed language requiring intelligence agencies to spend money according to Congress's instructions", and replaced it with "a provision that allows the agencies to move money around freely and without Congress's knowledge". This means that the already-paramilitary intelligence community, including the CIA, will now be privatized, and Blackwater founder Erik Prince, the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, had been pushing for "a private intelligence force" that would report directly, and only to Trump and (now ex-) CIA director Mike Pompeo.[68] For a man known to use private guards instead of the Secret Service, it is no surprise that Trump is eager to further entrench his own power and detachment from the rule of law.[69]

Obstruction of justice and ignoring the rule of law[edit]

Swearing in of William Barr.
See the main article on this topic: Rule of law

Jeff Sessions was his first attorney general. Sessions is notorious for his racism and disdain for civil rights.[70][71] Sessions also got close to Russians and lied about that under oath when asked. Democrats called for his resignation.[72]

Trump fired Jeff Sessions immediately after the 2018 midterm elections. Sessions' chief of staff Matthew Whitaker became his acting replacement. Trump insisted that Sessions "should have never recused himself."[71] Whitaker, a GOP loyalist and Trump supporter[73] who worked for a company that was shut down and fined for scamming,[74] is of the opinion that the Special Counsel has overstepped his mandate by investigating Trump's finances.[71] Whitaker is openly critical of the investigation and asserted there was no evidence for collusion or Russian interference in 2016 U.S. Presidential elections.[75] Critics question his impartiality[76] and worried that Whitaker would be unwilling to protect the Special Counsel investigation from political interference.[73] Some top Democrats and protesters asked Whitaker to recuse himself, but this was unlikely and did not eventuate.[75] Meanwhile, legal scholars are debated the constitutionality and legality of Whitaker's appointment, as he has not been confirmed by the Senate. Once again, there were calls for legislation to protect the Special Counsel, this time from Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney (lately) of Utah.[77][78]

Trump considered firing Mueller (at least) twice. In August 2018, he tried to get Jeff Sessions to end the probe.[79] In any case, the more Mueller and his team investigated, the more evidence of wrongdoing they found.[80] Because this has been an ongoing investigation, Mueller and his team knew much more than what has been made public.[81] Given the charter of this Special Counsel and the nature of this investigation, it is clear that the Mueller probe must be allowed to reach its logical conclusion. Any attempt by Donald Trump or any of his associates to "fight back" may be considered obstruction of justice, as are the firing of James Comey,[81] and refusing to be interviewed by investigators.[82] Trump's steadfast refusal to cooperate with law enforcement may lead to the Special Counsel issuing a subpoena to compel his testimony before a grand jury. The situation might escalate into a (multi-year) legal battle between Trump's attorneys and Mueller's team.[83] In September 2018, the Mueller team reportedly stopped insisting on a personal interview and agreed to accept written answers from Trump.[84]

Trump has also attempted to violate the rule of law in 2018 with his acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker. Regarding this, incoming chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff said,[85]

The president of the United States is discussing a case in which he is implicated with the attorney general. That is wrong at every level. And, of course, it will taint anything that this acting attorney general does, any role he plays in this investigation. This is a real assault on the rule of law.

Abusing law enforcement[edit]

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), as part of their unprecedented powers under Trump, will now be able to track down license plates as they search for undocumented immigrants.[86] It also wants to join the intelligence community with powers comparable to the NSA or FBI, but they've only gained serious traction under Trump.[87] Due to immigration being a broad issue, ICE has counter-proliferation, money laundering, counterterror, and cybercrime operations already under their belt; however, if they join the spook group, they would gain the power of warrantless surveillance and borderline paramilitary authority as potentially part of Homeland Security.[88] [89] ICE already has worked to strip citizenship from naturalized Americans without already being a spook agency.[90]

ICE even began arresting lawful permanent residents, not just undocumented immigrants.[91] ICE has tripled the number of undocumented immigrants arrested without criminal records, does so by "sweeping the streets and rounding up likely immigrants."[92]

In North Carolina, this has yet another chilling trickle-down effect. 20 legal immigrants and permanent residents were arrested for "illegally" voting due to confusion and misdirection and not because of some conspiracy to commit a crime. They "could still be convicted and imprisoned" — or even deported ― without the Justice Department proving they intended to break the law.[93]

Abuse of power, promotion of violence, and support for police brutality[edit]

Trump at an Arizona rally.
See the main article on this topic: Police brutality

In many ways, Trump already has his wall: that of the police unions who endorsed him. By repeating the nonsensical "war on cops" rhetoric familiar in the right wing, he is framing the narrative of the police being an occupying force positively, and many police unions are cooperating with Trump on burying so-called "sanctuary cities" that protect immigrants from deportation. "Blue Lives Matter" laws are being pushed to prevent cops from being held liable for unwarranted deaths occurring on their watch or by their hands.[94] Michael German, a former FBI agent of the Brennan Center for Justice, even warned that Trump's endorsement, incitement, and glorification of violence as a solution to society's ills is a creeping authoritarianism that would expand the power of the police as a weapon against protesters.[95] Trump already publicly called on cops to be even more brutal on suspects[96] in a speech; scores of police chiefs and officers condemned him for it.[97] During a protest in Portland, Oregon, anti-fascists faced down white supremacists with the police, in full riot gear, physically separating the two groups. But then the police started cracking down on the anti-fascist counter-protesters, throwing flash-bang grenades at them while the white supremacists, the Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer groups, cheered on the cops, who were so careless they almost killed a counter protester when one such flash bang grenade hit his head. Other counter protesters were hospitalized, including a reporter at the scene. Cops began chasing after anti-fascists, throwing flash-bangs and tear gas to disperse the crowds, again while the white supremacists cheered the police on.[98]

On Inauguration Day on January 20, 2017, hundreds of protesters, bystanders, and journalists were arrested and charged with "felony rioting".[99] At a Phoenix, Arizona rally, Trump's security forces tear gassed protesters who called attention to his anti-immigrant views.[100] The ACLU also sued police in Washington, D.C. for abusing protesters during Trump's inauguration, including denying detainees access to food and water, using "overwhelming and unlawful force" against non-violent demonstrators, enclosing more than 230 demonstrators, journalists, and legal observers during an anti-fascist bloc march, and even sexually assaulting detainees as a form of punishment and humiliation.[101] [102] During a highway blockade by protesters in October 2017, Trump-aligned police in St. Louis, Missouri arrested anyone with a camera during peaceful protests, including people who weren't protesting. St. Louis police first targeted everyone who had been livestreaming the protests, including TYT journalist Jordan Chariton and cameraman/editor Ty Bayless; 200 people were arrested overall.[103] [104] [105] It isn't just cops either: violent neo-Nazi hate groups, particularly the Rise Above Movement physically assaulted protesters and journalists, with Trump's administration doing nothing to stop them, even as the RAM posted videos of their altercations online.[106]

Trump has often been fond of violence,[107] dating all the way back to the primary. He repeatedly suggested, encouraged, supported, or outright incited[108] violence from his supporters or from Trump-friendly police.[109][110][111] Even some of his supporters admitted that they felt emboldened to commit violent acts because of his rhetoric.[112][113] His campaign, stretching all the way back to the primary, was marked with violence from his supporters to anyone he personally disliked, usually protesters and minorities, but even journalists who were white males were assaulted by his more rabid followers.[114] This led to several judges allowing lawsuits against Trump for incitement of violence, with his lawyers arguing not that he didn't incite violence, but that he was "immune" from civil lawsuits.[115]

This is particularly dangerous because rhetoric is powerful and important, and when the leader of a country dehumanizes people he dislikes, it encourages and even mandates violence.[116] When a terrorist killed people in an attack on New York, Trump immediately called for execution, complaining that the justice system was a "joke" and it takes too long to administer punishment. Legal experts immediately sounded the alarms that the terrorist wouldn't have a fair trial if Trump's death penalty rhetoric continued.[117] The long-term consequences are hard to see, but his love of violence against his opponents is in itself a policy statement, because he is actively supporting police brutality to occur against protesters, repeatedly calling for violence, and expressing disappointment when it doesn't happen.[118] Critics have feared that the hitlist will expand.[119][120] A Breitbart journalist had her arm pulled to the floor by his first campaign manager Corey Lewandowski during the primary,[121] and he had one of his Secret Service bodyguards bodyslam a photographer during one of his rallies.[122] [123] This has contributed to a growing fear that journalists and reporters will be targeted by his supporters.[124] This has already inspired Greg Gianforte to physically assault a reporter for asking him a question[125][126] and another Republican to call for lynching anyone who destroys Confederate monuments.[127]

As for abuse of power, Trump is using taxpayer money for his own personal benefit,[128] colluding with the Republican party to cover up his financial crimes (including to organized crime and oligarchs), plus getting world leaders to pay fees to Mar-a-Lago or Trump Tower when they meet him,[129] awarding sweetheart federal contracts to businesses owned by pro-Trump donors,[130] drained money from the RNC to pay for legal bills against a corruption probe,[131] pardoned a corrupt sheriff who refused to follow a court order against his policies (and went against the Justice Department's own procedure by not even waiting for a formal conviction in a trial before the pardon),[132] [133] pressuring the FBI Director to stop or impede a corruption investigation regarding his ties to Russian and American mobsters,[134] refusing to break free from severe conflicts of interest,[135][136][137][138] and using the bully pulpit to politicize the criminal justice system, disparage or punish members of the executive branch who won't toe his line, and attempt to humiliate private citizens who dare to speak out against him.[139]

Zero tolerance and punitive policies[edit]

Trump meeting with Border Patrol agents to ask them if they can't be just a bit rougher when they detain people, please?

Trump reportedly wants to "close the border", whatever that means. His sheer disdain for immigration is legendary, and his policies, according to Homeland Security chief Kirstjen Nielsen, are punitive, ruthless, vindictive, and based almost solely on cruelty for the sake of intimidating marginalized communities.[140] [141] His harsh rhetoric and reactionary policies have emboldened some within his government into committing fear-based murders of immigrants at worst, as you will soon see, and in another case, incompetence merging with apathy as the government grows further indifferent to the lives of immigrants no matter their age or fate.

A Border Patrol agent admitted he opened fire on a group of people he thought were immigrants rushing toward him. One named Claudia Gonzalez, an indigenous woman from Guatemala studying at a university, was shot in the head by the agent.[142]

ICE, which is now infamous for breaking up families at an astonishing rate,[143] sent close to 1,500 children to the Department of Health and Human Services for further processing, all of whom suddenly went missing. Its policy was to transfer these now-alone children into sponsors, who would then take care of the kids, but these sponsors often have no relation to the children, and the government - as exemplified by John Kelly's "foster care or whatever" comment - doesn't really care too much what happens after. And yet, they still lost track of nearly 1,500 children, with the HHS even declaring the government was not "legally responsible" for them. [144] [145] [146]

A unique hallmark of Trump's presidency has been to separate families for crossing the border,[147] which has caused at least one instance of a refugee committing suicide after being torn away from their family members.[148] This is known as "zero tolerance policy," which the media has bypassed in favor of the more scathing and accurate "separating kids from their parents" sadism.[149] Attorney General Jeff Sessions restricted asylum access for victims of gang and domestic violence. He says this is to reduce illegal immigration. This has been derided as needlessly cruel.[150] Migrant kids who were separated from their families, including one parent who lost her kid while breastfeeding them, are put in a detention facility owned by a private company, and ICE treats them like prisoners (including only two hours outside the facility per day for each kid). [151]

Detained children in a Customs and Border Protection facility.

The Trump administration established concentration camps for migrant children,[152] [153] and identified their first internment camp in Texas on the anniversary of his campaign for president.[154] Given Trump's campaign-era support for FDR's internment camps, this should be no surprise.[155] [156] [157] This exact policy of separation and detention inevitably causes devastating psychological stress, even mental illness for the kids.[158] Children are put in cages,[159][160] fenced away from the guards and their parents, and are treated like prisoners, forced to wear yellow wristbands — a Bush-era policy — for identification.[161] In a Border Patrol warehouse in Texas, hundreds of children were detained in small cages made by metal fencing, including 20 kids in one cage. This facility is divided into separate wings for unaccompanied children, adults on their own, and mothers and fathers with children. No reporters are allowed near it.[162] As you might expect, some state-run detention facilities have conditions so bad, "children were running away, screaming, throwing furniture and attempting suicide." [163] Trump's 2017 federal hiring freeze has left many prisons, detention centers, and internment camps understaffed, leading to an increase in prison violence.[164] [165]

It goes further. Toddlers, or "children at tender ages" were being separated from their families and put in one of three to four detention facilities with no regard for the resultant psychological trauma.[166][167] [168] [169][170] There's even a lawsuit alleging children were forcibly injected with drugs against their wishes; some were left unable to walk and fearful of others as they experienced pain that they didn't understand. This was going on before Trump, due to an old policy of outsourcing detention to private prisons.[171] [172] He's alluded to the victims of his policies being "crisis actors".[173]

After weeks of widespread public and political outrage, Trump signed an executive order ending family separation, which ultimately meant that instead of just kids in concentration camps, whole families will be in concentration camps, and he'll do next to nothing to stop the kids who were already separated and detained.[174][175] His executive order still leaves the Zero Tolerance policy in effect.[176] Leaked memos revealed Trump had always planned on housing immigrants in concentration camps (which he calls tent cities), whether through separation or family detention.[177]

More children detained by US Customs and Border Protection. Those floor mats look comfy!

It was later revealed by MSNBC that the Trump administration never actually stopped their separation policy. Instead of separating them by default, they force refugees to choose between leaving the country with their kids (self-deportation) or leaving the country without them.[178] Immigrant U.S. Army reservists and recruits who enlisted in the military with a promised path to citizenship are being abruptly discharged.[179] Migrant kids kept in these concentration camps are reportedly being drugged to make them more compliant and numb, and denied water as a form of punishment.[180]

Thousands of detainees are being sent to at least one federal prison where conditions are so bad and staff are so underfunded, medical officials in the prison warn that the detainees will die.[181] Trump also confirmed he and his administration wants to deport people without any due process.[182] A man diagnosed with a mental illness was put in solitary confinement, internationally recognized as a form of torture, before taking his life.[183] A child kept in an ICE detention camp died due to negligence from the guards, it has been alleged as well.[184]

Pregnant women detained by ICE under Trump have been denied medical care, shackled around the stomach, and abused; some had miscarriages, and were not given any help or care at all.[185] Further torture, such as forcible strips, physical assault, and drinking toilet water, was committed by the guards to the children. [186]

The Trump administration, by September 2018, will now ignore a federal court agreement that "strictly limits" the conditions under which authorities can detain migrant children. Tens of thousands more immigrants will be detained for longer and under quicker procedures than before, arguing these "legal loopholes" hinder executive policy. By ditching the Flores agreement, the Trump administration will oversee new detention centers that will house an additional 12,000 immigrants, including children, possibly indefinitely.[187] [188] [189]This means Trump is actively shredding the rule of law, and much like Andrew Jackson before him, is set to simply ignore judicial rulings that do not agree with him. [190] [191]

Even Christian refugees aren't being allowed to enter the country, despite promises from the president himself that he'd protect them. The number of Christian refugees granted entry into the U.S. has dropped by more than 40 percent over the past year, and Iraqi Christians are among those being put in detention camps under the Trump administration.[192]

Response to midterm results[edit]

Democrats made major gains in the 2018 midterm elections, winning at least 40 net seats in the House of Representatives (the most for the party since 1974) and seven governorships. The results in the Senate were better for the GOP, which managed to net two seats, but only because Democrats were defending the vast majority of seats up for election (including several in deep red states like North Dakota and Missouri). While there is some debate about exactly why the Democrats did so well in 2018, there’s little question that Trump’s unpopular policies and abrasive, bigoted behavior contributed to Republican losses.[193]

Obama, Clinton, Reagan, and other previous presidents who suffered midterm defeats responded by adopting a more bipartisan tone and appealing to voters across the aisle.[194] Trump, on the other hand, has reacted by doubling down on his ridiculous policy demands, bizarre and bigoted comments, and authoritarian threats. Since the midterms, he has:

  • Shut down the Federal government over his wall for 35 days, the longest shutdown in U.S. history.[195]
  • Declared a national emergency in an attempt to unilaterally build the aforementioned border wall using funds from the military and other executive agencies.[196]
  • Announced that if House Democrats try to investigate him, he will make the Senate investigate Democrats right back, a threat that does not make him look guilty in any way, shape, or form[197]
  • Threatened to cut off FEMA funds to California unless the state “gets their act together” on controlling forest fires, a threat that suggests Trump understands neither the effects of climate change nor how Federal lands are managed[198]

It should be noted that there are several competitive Senate seats to defend in 2020.[199]

See also[edit]



  1. Trump says 'nobody disobeys my orders.' Here are 15 recorded instances of exactly that. by Aaron Blake (April 22 at 1:08 PM) The Washington Post.
  2. Trump said China showed 'the power of strength' when talking about the Tiananmen Square massacre in a 1990 Playboy interview. Business Insider.
  6. SA Photojournalist Alexei Wood Found Not Guilty on All 7 Inauguration Day Charges by Alex Zielinski (Dec 21, 2017 at 11:47 AM) San Antonio Current.
  7. SFR Journalist’s Charges Dropped: Aaron Cantú and other inauguration day protesters no longer face criminal charges (July 6, 2018) Santa Fe Reporter.
  22. "NC Republicans change what voters will see on ballots about their amendments," Lynn Bonner, NewsObserver
  23. "NC GOP leader raises possibility of impeaching justices over amendment ruling," Lynn Bonner, NewsObserver
  32. "C-SPAN Caller Threatens ‘To Shoot’ CNN Hosts Brian Stelter And Don Lemon," Hayley Miller, Huffington Post
  33. Trump claims media 'dishonest' over crowd photos
  34. Trump's inauguration crowd: Sean Spicer's claims versus the evidence
  35. Sorry, Kellyanne Conway. 'Alternative facts' are just lies
  36. Donald Trump's team in fresh war of words with US media
  37. Donald Trump's team defends 'alternative facts' after widespread protests
  39. Stephen Colbert Is Pretty Sure Trump Doesn’t Know Who Kim Jong Un Is: After an interview in which the president refused to refer to the North Korean dictator by name, late night had a field day. by Laura Bradley (April 19, 2017 10:05 am) Vanity Fair.
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  98. "Violent Proto-Fascists Came To Portland. The Police Went After The Anti-Fascists," Christopher Mathias and Andy Campbell, Huffington Post
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