Today in Rampaging Authoritarianism

Donald Trump has "joked" (that is, projected precisely what he intends to do under the auspices of "humor" in order to accuse anyone who expresses alarm of being humorless and overreacting) on multiple occasions about staying in office longer than the two terms to which U.S. presidents are limited by law.

Yesterday, he did it once again.

Felicia Sonmez at the Washington Post reports:
[Donald] Trump on Sunday floated the possibility of staying in office longer than two terms, suggesting in a morning tweet that his supporters might "demand that I stay longer."

The president, who will kick off his reelection campaign on Tuesday with an event in Orlando, has previously joked about serving more than two terms, including at an event in April, when he told a crowd that he might remain in the Oval Office "at least for 10 or 14 years."

...Trump last month floated the notion of being given two bonus years as president to make up for the time former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III spent on his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign. The president shared a tweet in which Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. declared, "Trump should have 2 yrs added to his 1st term as pay back for time stolen by this corrupt failed coup."

Last year, Trump also joked about doing away with term limits in a speech to Republican donors at his Mar-a-Lago estate in which he praised Chinese President Xi Jinping for doing so.

"He's now president for life. President for life. No, he's great," Trump said, according to CNN. "And look, he was able to do that. I think it's great. Maybe we'll have to give that a shot some day."
This latest "joke" about not leaving office also comes on the heels of Trump saying, "I don't leave."

As I wrote on Twitter: "Note that in every one of Trump's 'jokes' about staying in office beyond two terms is the implicit certitude that he will be reelected to a second term."

The thing is: "When not if" is a pretty standard linguistic approach by incumbents. But most of them aren't using that trick within the context of suggesting that they will ignore term limits, nor against the backdrop of having colluded with a foreign government to win in the first place.

Relatedly, there was a major story in the New York Times this weekend about the U.S. attacking Russia's power grid, and I'll set aside for now the entire fuckery of the Times publishing that information, because, as Ryan Goodman noted on Twitter, there's a "blockbuster story" buried within the piece:
Two administration officials said they believed Mr. Trump had not been briefed in any detail about the steps to place "implants" — software code that can be used for surveillance or attack — inside the Russian grid.

Pentagon and intelligence officials described broad hesitation to go into detail with Mr. Trump about operations against Russia for concern over his reaction — and the possibility that he might countermand it or discuss it with foreign officials, as he did in 2017 when he mentioned a sensitive operation in Syria to the Russian foreign minister.
So, the intelligence community is running the country, or at least part of it, without even telling Donald Trump.

Over two years ago, I warned that Trump's war on the intelligence community was leading to what is effectively dueling coups between the Trump administration and the national security bureaucrats — and that, if Trump fights back, it's going to get extremely ugly.

We must understand that Trump's comments about staying in office are situated within the context of a bureaucratic apparatus that is undermining his presidency. His "jokes" about not leaving office may well be shots across the bow at the intelligence community's threat to the Republican consolidation of power behind Trump.

And that is the best case scenario. A worse possibility is that the intelligence community is happy to let Trump go on being a figurehead while they run the show, because they've decided they have no use for democracy, either.

In any case, our democracy is in critical peril. And many of the people who swore oaths to protect it are the ones now endeavoring, for their own various ends, to destroy it.

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