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Removing Trump Is Not Enough. He Must Be Prosecuted.

Inauguration Day is only seven weeks away. In “normal” times, the outgoing president and his team would at this point be facilitating a smooth transfer of power—tying up a few policy loose ends, but generally making way for the new president and acknowledging the new political priorities of that president.

None of that is happening with Donald Trump. In fact, quite the reverse. Day by day, reports emerge of new efforts to lock into place Trump’s extremist agenda. That’s the Signal.

Over the weekend, the Los Angeles Times reported that the administration is ramping up deportations of asylum seekers from Africa and Haiti, in an apparent effort to keep Black people from obtaining residency. The newspaper revealed that in recent weeks more than 100 such men and women have been coerced onto deportation flights, often after being physically assaulted by ICE officers. Many of these individuals have family in the United States, and many had open asylum cases still wending their way through the court system when they were deported. Some of the men were, apparently, put onto the planes with bags over their heads—a brutal image, and one reminiscent of how US forces transported captured Al Qaeda suspects at the height of the War on Terror.

Not content with these egregious rights violations against asylum seekers already in the country, the administration is also dramatically accelerating border wall construction, aiming to lock out undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers alike. Mile upon mile of new wall is going up in these final weeks of Trump’s presidency, at a staggering environmental and financial cost. In some remote canyons in Arizona, the wall is now costing US taxpayers $41 million per mile, and environmental habitats vital to the well-being of numerous animal species are being dynamited and mined into devastation. The aim, apparently, is to present the wall as a fait accompli, thus making it politically impossible for Joe Biden to dismantle it.

Meanwhile, the administration is moving ahead with an extraordinary regulatory change that effectively shreds civil service employment protections for thousands of government employees—including hundreds of Office of Management and Budget workers—who are being reclassified as at-will political appointees, and who can thus be fired by the president if they are not politically loyal. This change is an assault on the professionalized, apolitical civil service, which was put in place in the decades following the Civil War to stamp out rampant corruption. And it kicks in literally the day before the inauguration, so it’s possible that Trump’s final Fuck you not just to Biden but to the American system of governance itself will be a wholesale purge of the civil service in the waning hours of his presidency.

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