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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Looking for MAGA Lawyers

Our recent book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the state of the partiesThe state of the GOP is not good. Trump and his minions falsely claimed that he won the election, and have kept repeating the Big Lie And we now know how close he came to subverting the Constitution.     

Jonathan Swan, Charlie Savage and The New York Times report an an effort by Trumpists to recruit far-right lawyers for a  new administration.

Their aim is to reduce the chances that politically appointed lawyers would frustrate a more radical White House agenda — as they sometimes did when Mr. Trump was in office, by raising objections to his desires for certain harsher immigration policies or for greater personal control over the Justice Department, among others.

Now, as Trump allies grow more confident in an election victory next fall, several outside groups, staffed by former Trump officials who are expected to serve in senior roles if he wins, have begun parallel personnel efforts. At the start of Mr. Trump’s term, his administration relied on the influential Federalist Society, the conservative legal network whose members filled key executive branch legal roles and whose leader helped select his judicial nominations. But in a striking shift, Trump allies are building new recruiting pipelines separate from the Federalist Society.

“The Federalist Society doesn’t know what time it is,” said Russell T. Vought, a former senior Trump administration official who runs a think tank with close ties to the former president. He argued that many elite conservative lawyers had proved to be too timid when, in his view, the survival of the nation is at stake.

Such comments may surprise those who view the Federalist Society as hard-line conservatives. But the move away from the group reflects the continuing evolution of the Republican Party in the Trump era and an effort among those now in his inner circle to prepare to take control of the government in a way unseen in modern presidential history.

Hard-right allies of Mr. Trump increasingly speak of typical Federalist Society members as “squishes” too worried about maintaining their standing in polite society and their employment prospects at big law firms to advance their movement’s most contentious tactics and goals.


In January 2020, Mr. Leo was having dinner at Mar-a-Lago when Mr. Trump strode up to his table. The president stunned Mr. Leo, publicly berating him and accusing him of recommending the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, who appointed a special counsel to investigate ties between the Russian government and the Trump campaign.

Taken aback, Mr. Leo protested that he had actually suggested someone else for the position — Mr. Cipollone. Mr. Trump walked away without apologizing.

Nearly a year later, when Mr. Trump was trying to enlist legal assistance for his efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss, he reached out three times to Mr. Leo. But Mr. Leo declined to take or return Mr. Trump’s calls, and has since only dealt with him through others.