Trump allies are planning a "purge" of the Justice Department, hoping to eliminate checks on power

Published May 17, 2024 1:13PM (EDT)

Donald Trump with the Department of Justice in the background (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Donald Trump with the Department of Justice in the background (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

A group of former president Donald Trump’s allies is formulating proposals to curb the Justice Department’s independence and turn the FBI into a political tool of the MAGA movement, Reuters reported.

This group, operating under the auspices of the right-wing Heritage Foundation's “Project 2025,” presents an extreme example of how a second Trump presidency could gut institutional checks and balances. It comes as Trump is facing 88 charges in four criminal cases, of which two were brought by special counsel Jack Smith and the Justice Department.

The MAGA plan begins by filling the Justice Department with conservatives who are likely to support any controversial orders from the White House; second, "restructure the department so key decisions are concentrated in the hands of administration loyalists rather than career bureaucrats," according to Reuters.

Trump's allies also want to go after the FBI, which they accuse of a liberal bias even as it is led by a Trump appointee, Christopher Wray. Under their plan, much of the bureau's authority would be transferred to other law enforcement arms of the federal government.

Two major Trump allies told Reuters that they supported eliminating the FBI’s general counsel, which angered Republicans during Trump’s first term when it approved an inquiry into contacts between his 2016 campaign and Russian officials.

Biden campaign spokesperson Ammar Mousa told Reuters that the former president and his allies “were putting Trump’s own revenge and retribution ahead of what is best for America."

“Trump feels that the DoJ has institutional problems,” Steve Bannon who was recently prosecuted by the Justice Department and convicted for contempt of Congress, told Reuters. “It’s not just personnel: you do need to purge the DoJ, but you also need to reform it.”

If Trump’s allies overhaul the Justice Department, they would have free reign to pursue conservative policy initiatives such as hiring programs focused on a diverse workplace and stopping federal inspection of police departments accused of racist practices. 


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