Legal Experts Gearing Up for Feared Military Takeover by Donald Trump

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Legal experts are said to be planning to push back against Donald Trump’s potential efforts at a broad military takeover in the event that he is reelected in November, according to a new report.

The former president is among the field of candidates seeking the 2024 GOP presidential nomination as part of his bid to retake the White House. National polling averages have consistently suggested that he leads the pack by a wide margin, regularly giving him around or above 50 percent support from likely Republican voters.

In a report published on Sunday, NBC News found that “a loose-knit network of public interest groups and lawmakers is quietly devising plans to try to foil any efforts to expand presidential power,” amid recent comments and moves from Trump indicating his intention to pursue his political agenda if reelected this year.

In November 2023, The Washington Post published a report outlining Trump’s alleged plans to invoke the Insurrection Act on the very first day of his hypothetical second term in the White House, allowing him to use military force to quash protests against his presidency. During the last months of his presidency, Trump was reportedly told by lawyer Jeffrey Clark that the Insurrection Act could be used to shut down protests if he had attempted to remain in office despite losing to Joe Biden in the 2020 election.

Former President Donald Trump attends a military academy graduation in June 2020. A new report has revealed a developing plan among legal experts to combat Trump’s potential military takeover if reelected this year.
David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

Meanwhile, during a town hall event hosted by Fox News host Sean Hannity last month, Hannity pressed Trump to pledge that he would never “abuse power as retribution against anybody,” as had been suggested in recent reports, if he’s reelected. In response, Trump suggested that he would only behave in such a way on the first day of his hypothetical second term.

“Except for day one,” Trump said. “No, no, no, other than day one. We’re closing the border and we’re drilling, drilling, drilling. After that, I’m not a dictator.” His drilling comment was a reference to his vow to expand oil drilling in the U.S.

Speaking with NBC News, Mary McCord, executive director of the Institution for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection at Georgetown Law and participant in this initiative, said that they are preparing to bring any number of lawsuits against the former president depending on the actions he might take if reelected.

“We’re already starting to put together a team to think through the most damaging types of things that he [Trump] might do so that we’re ready to bring lawsuits if we have to,” McCord said.

The group’s plan for the moment, according to the report, is to identify and connect like-minded individuals and organizations who will be able to confront Trump’s potential overreach “from day one.”

The report also mentioned participants “combing through policy papers being crafted for a future conservative administration,” likely referring to the Heritage Foundation’s “Project 2025,” a plan being crafted in the event of a Republican presidential victory this year to greatly expand the powers afforded to the executive branch of the U.S. government.

Political analyst and historian Julian Zelizer previously told Newsweek that Trump allies could “go very far” with the ideas being put forward by the project, which says that Article II of the U.S. Constitution makes it “abundantly clear” that the executive branch’s powers are solely invested in the president.

Newsweek reached out to Trump’s office via email for comment.

While Trump is heavily favored to once again clinch the GOP presidential nomination, the outlook for the general election remains less clear-cut. While news cycles have been recently dominated by coverage of President Joe Biden’s troubled approval ratings, polls so far have shown that he and Trump are neck-and-neck in a hypothetical November rematch, with some giving Biden the edge and some skewing for Trump.