Let me be blunt: The soft spot is not NSA and it’s not the drone program. The soft spot, the least tyrant-proof part of the government, is the U.S. Department of Justice and the larger law enforcement and regulatory apparatus of the United States government. The first reason you should fear a Donald Trump presidency is what he would do to the ordinary enforcement functions of the federal government, not the most extraordinary ones….
What would a president need to do to shift the Justice Department to the crimes or civil infractions committed—or suspected—by Trump critics and opponents? He would need to appoint and get confirmed by the Senate the right attorney general. That’s very doable. He’d want to keep his communications with that person limited. An unspoken understanding that the Justice Department’s new priorities include crimes by the right sort of people would be better than the sort of chortling communications Richard Nixon and John Mitchell used to have. Want to go after Jeff Bezos
to retaliate for the Washington Post
‘s coverage of the campaign? Develop a sudden trust-busting interest in retailers that are “too big”; half the country will be with you. Just make sure you state your non-neutral principles in neutral terms….
The presidency’s very virtues as an office—relative unity and vertical integration—make it impossible to render abuse-proof. It is vested with a truly awesome thing:“the executive power” of the entire federal government. There are simply too many ways to abuse that power to imagine we can denude the office of the ability to behave tyranically.
There is, in fact, only one way to tyrant-proof the American presidency: Don’t elect tyrants to it.