'You have to take it seriously': Rick Wilson on re-electing Trump

Scripps News talks with Rick Wilson, co-founder of the Lincoln Project, about the possibility of a second Trump term.
Posted at 10:06 PM, Dec 07, 2023

Scripps News spoke with Rick Wilson, co-founder of the Lincoln Project, a political action committee dedicated to opposing former President Donald Trump and the possibility of his re-election. We heard from Wilson about what would be expected from a second Trump term.

On expectations if Trump is reelected as president

"You actually have to take him literally at this point, because they are laying out a plan and a policy, that isn't just Donald Trump quipping away on stage," Wilson said. "It's also Kash Patel and Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller and this entire constellation of Trump acolytes and loyalists who are telling us outright they're going to use the power of the government to persecute and prosecute their political opponents. They're going to use the power of the government to arrest journalists. They're going to skip the legal reviews and legal processes of things like mass deportations. So they're telling us what they're going to do. You cannot, in Donald Trump's case, take any of this lightly."

On the legality of the president conducting mass firings across the executive branch

"It wasn't legal for Trump to attempt to use the power of government to overthrow a free and fair election, so if you think it's going to stop him from attempting mass firings, I have a bridge to sell you," Wilson said. "This is a guy who clearly understood that civil service is the enemy of authoritarianism in many ways. And they see the civil service — they see career government workers — as the enemy, as people who are part of the imaginary deep state that opposes them, when those folks are, in fact, upholding their oath to the Constitution and the rule of law."

On warning about fascism

"There's always a crisis moment in every authoritarian movement where people have their normalcy bias and they believe everything's going to stay the same and that the worst can't possibly happen," Wilson said. "We saw in the first Trump administration, there were still a handful of guardrails out there, still a handful of people who weren't willing to break the law at every turn. [Trump] understands the second term will not be staffed with the old guard. It will not be old Washington Republicans or old Washington hands. It will be people who are utterly loyal to him. Donald Trump has shown us over and over again absolute contempt for the law. And if you're a person like me, if you're a person who is a political or media opponent of the president, you have to take it seriously."