If elected again in 2025, Donald J. Trump and his allies intend to increase the president’s authority over the government dramatically. They want to abolish the post-Watergate norm of Justice Department independence from White House political control and reform the executive branch to put more power squarely in his hands.
They intend to place previously autonomous agencies under direct presidential control, bring back the practice of “impounding” funds, eliminate job security for tens of thousands of career civil servants, and purge bureaucracies in the intelligence community, the State Department, and the Department of Defense of any officials deemed to be unloyal. Trump’s campaign policy shop and a well-funded network of conservative groups are driving the initiative, with the help of several former high-ranking Trump administration officials.
The agenda stems from the attempts of conservative legal theorists to undermine the administrative state, which enacts rules to ensure the safety of the public’s air, water, food, pharmaceuticals, and consumer items at the expense of the profits of private businesses.
According to Kevin D. Roberts of the Heritage Foundation, independent federal agencies violate the very core of the democratic republic, he contends. Although President Trump has consistently criticized the administrative state, he has laid forth a more expanded vision of authority in his second term. He plans to have formerly autonomous agencies report their moves to the White House for approval. His allies are writing an executive order to subsume independent agencies under presidential control, and they support this approach. With a second chance at the presidency, Trump and his supporters may reconsider their exemption of the Federal Reserve from the draft executive order.
The Federal Reserve is not explicitly mentioned when the Trump campaign website discusses putting independent agencies under presidential administration. According to former Trump administration officials, legal challenges to the restrictions on a president’s authority to remove heads of independent agencies are imminent. Some opponents have argued that Congress should restrict the president’s influence over officials to prevent abuses in light of the court’s recent decisions eroding precedents. A court struggle may ensue, but Trump has promised to impound funds and reinstate the practice. The civil service, which is meant to be made up of apolitical specialists protected from being sacked for political reasons, is another area he intends to overhaul.