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Brooks: Trump Could Be ‘Authoritarian,’ Could Also Have ‘No Control Over His Own Government’

On Friday’s broadcast of “PBS NewsHour,” New York Times columnist David Brooks said he could paint a scenario where President-Elect Donald Trump is “authoritarian” and another where he doesn’t control the government, and “We could be seeing something entirely new, something entirely authoritarian, something that looks more like Ukraine or Russia than anything we’re used to seeing here.”

Brooks said, “[F]irst, agencies and these issues, whether it’s environmental or labor issues, they have — it’s a tradeoff. And Democrats in environmental agencies tend to favor — be more sensitive to environmental harm, and Republicans tend to be more sensitive to business harm. And so I don’t know if they’re going against the mission of the agencies. It’s just a different set of priorities, and it’s legitimate. Trump has done — has picked the more extreme versions of all Republicans so far, the more aggressive. And I think the thing to watch out for is, I could totally paint a scenario where Trump runs an authoritarian regime. I could totally paint a scenario where he has no control over his own government. And that’s in part because of his attention span problems, but in part because running an agency is very hard. Cabinet secretaries often have no control over their agency. And it becomes doubly hard when you are really out of opinion with the people who actually work in the agency. And it becomes triply hard, as I think may happen, a lot of people will leave the government. There are a lot of people in a lot of these sorts of places that are weighing, do I really want to serve here?”

He later added, “A friend of mine who’s a political strategist in town said to me, you know, half my conversations are about the dissent of fascism in America, and maybe that’s going to happen, and then half are normal policy discussions about how to reform healthcare. And so, the Trump administration could go off in both directions. We could be seeing something entirely new, something entirely authoritarian, something that looks more like Ukraine or Russia than anything we’re used to seeing here. And these tweets are to me one of the telltale signs of whether we’re going off in that direction. If he’s just tweeting about a union guy, then he’s just being his — the bully we’ve seen. But if he uses the power of the presidency to back up some of that tweet — some of those tweets, and he’s really, really coming down with a hammer on people he doesn’t like, using the power of the presidency, then we’re seeing something very new and very different. And it’s too soon to tell whether he’s going to start doing that, but that, to me, would be an indicator of something very troubling, if he does that as president.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett

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