The Most Terrifying Details in Project 2025

This is an edited transcript of an MSNBC analysis between Melissa Murray, a Professor of Law at NYU Law School, and Elie Mystal, the Justice Correspondent for The Nation magazine.

Melissa Murray, a Professor of Law at NYU Law School.

Melissa Murray: This is not a normal election, and this is not your father’s Republican Party. It’s now Donald Trump’s party, and if he’s elected, the consequences will be catastrophic. Trump acolytes have an entire plan called Project 2025 that outlines priorities for the first 180 days of a new Trump administration.

And it’s not hyperbole to say that Project 2025 would dismantle democracy as we know it. Critics are calling it the fascist playbook, and it should be one of the reasons, if not the reason, that you vote this November. What’s at stake here is not just a Republican agenda versus a Democratic agenda, as in years past, but democracy itself.

And you don’t need to take anyone’s word for it. You can read Project 2025 for yourself. The far Right’s blueprints span two volumes, over 800 pages, and it details comprehensively the Republican strategy to remake the executive branch, concentrating power solely in the hands of the president. But as the Far Right is well aware, this project can’t proceed without restructuring our government’s foundations.

Republican political heist

Without eliminating the legal obstacles and checks on the president, like, for example, the Department of Justice, which is why there’s a whole chapter in Project 2025 about the DOJ. In his most recent piece, The Nation’s Elie Mystal highlights how devastating Project 2025’s assault on the Department of Justice could be.

Elie writes, quote, If Project 2025 is essentially a conservative heist plot, then the chapter on the DOJ is where the plotters detail how they intend to disable the security cameras and floodlights, allowing them to operate under the cover of darkness. Incapacitating the Department of Justice is exactly that: knocking out the security cameras.

Trump’s problem with the DOJ is not, as he claims, that it is a bloated bureaucracy, but rather that, as currently structured, it won’t carry out MAGA’s bidding. Mystal goes on to explain, “Project 2025 proposes transforming the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ into a tool to fight for white supremacy instead of against it.”

Elie Mystal, the Justice Correspondent for The Nation magazine.

It aims to do this by using the division to prosecute institutions and organizations that promote diversity as violations of civil rights and equal protection of whites. And it’s the logical conclusion of the conservative assault on Affirmative Action and DEI programs. Project 2025 is telling us exactly how the conservatives plan to take away the rights of women, people of color, and the LGBTQ community.

I beg the American people to believe them. For more on this, I am joined by Elie Mystal himself, columnist and justice correspondent for The Nation. He’s also a fellow with the Type Media Center and the author of the book Allow Me to Retort, a Black Guy’s Guide to the Constitution. Elie, we touched on this very briefly in the introduction, but can you please explain how Project 2025 came about?

Elie Mystal: Project 2025 isn’t a plan. It’s a manifesto for how Trump’s ruling junta intends to take over the legal structures of our nation. And it’s really focused on the DOJ because, remember, folks, the DOJ hurt Trump. The DOJ stood up to Trump, and I say that having almost no respect for mustache-twirling racist Jeff Sessions.

But when it came time to do the right thing, Jeff Sessions did the right thing and recused himself. I have almost no respect for Bill “Grimace” Barr. But when it came time to do the right thing after Trump lost the election, Bill Barr would not do Trump’s bidding and would not file frivolous lawsuits against the voting machines, Smartmatic, and what have you.

Trump will not have forgotten that. Project 2025 Manifesto is his plan to remake the DOJ into an organization that will do its bidding. The entire section is like a Seinfeld episode of Festivus. It’s just an airing of grievances that they have against the ‘woke agenda.’

Melissa Murray: Can we talk about one of those grievances? There are many. One thing that I found particularly troubling is that Project 2025 proposes to redirect the Department of Justice’s focus from white-collar crimes to violent crimes. And I thought this was really interesting given that many of the crimes of which Trump and, as you put it, his junta have been charged are often those white-collar crimes.

So, what do you make of this shift? Is this self-serving? What’s the subtext here?

Elie Mystal: They’re trying to keep Trump’s family out of jail with this stuff.  Not only are they saying that the DOJ should focus on violent crime, not tax fraud, bank fraud, charity fraud, and all the stuff that Trump and his people are accused of.

They want the Department of Justice to fire the 300 or so lawyers who work for the FBI. Why did they do that? Because the lawyers who work for the FBI are the ones who tell the FBI what they can and cannot do. And Project 2025 isn’t like that.

They don’t want to tell the FBI what they can’t do. They want the FBI to take their orders directly from a political appointee that is beholden to their attorney general. That’s the other thing that’s most scary about this idea.

If you look at the Republicans, they are talking about people like Stephen Miller. They’re talking about people like Mike Davis. They’re talking about people who think that the wrong turn for this country happened when Lee surrendered at Appomattox. They want to take us back to that antebellum way of thinking. And that’s who, next time around, Trump is going to appoint as his AG, a loyalist racist, as opposed to just, you know, a racist.

Melissa Murray: Let’s talk about some prospective attorney generals. You mentioned Mike Lee and Stephen Miller, both veterans of the Trump White House. Mike Lee is now the senator from Utah. A recent Slate article suggests that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is also in the mix here. And Paxton has a really interesting record.

He was indicted on security fraud charges that were later dropped. When he agreed to do community service and pay restitution, he also said that he would bring legal action against emergency room physicians if they performed abortions on Texas women who were in the throes of miscarriage. So how does he figure this out, and what would the DOJ look like under his leadership?

Elie Mystal: I’ve never been arrested, charged, or convicted of a crime, but I have heard that when you are arrested, charged and convicted of a crime, when you’re a felon, you kind of like to hang out with other felons. You feel a little more comfortable with your own people when you are convicted to hang out with other cons.

That’s what Ken Paxton [Attorney General of Texas] brings to the table: the criminality that Trump loves so much. So yeah, he’s one of the people who’s in the mix for AG Chris Kobach, the Kansas attorney general. Basically, if you have been a Republican lawyer who has attacked people of color and the LGBTQ community for women trying to access reproductive rights. Trump wants you to send him a cover letter, and Trump’s going to take your call about and interview you to be the next attorney general of this nation.

Melissa Murray: Elie Mystal, there is so much in these 800 pages. All of you Americans should look into this.


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