Donald Trump’s 'Schedule F' scheme would 'radically reshape' the federal government in 2025: report

Donald Trump’s 'Schedule F' scheme would 'radically reshape' the federal government in 2025: report
Image via Creative Commons.

The political events of 2022 have been unprecedented in United States history. On one hand, former President Donald Trump’s numerous critics — from liberals and progressives to centrist Blue Dog Democrats to right-wing Never Trumpers — are hoping that the evidence being skillfully presented by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s select committee on the January 6, 2021 insurrection will lead to Trump facing a federal prosecution and going to prison. But on the other hand, Trump’s diehard loyalists are hoping that he will run for president in the 2024 election, win and return to the White House in January 2025.

Never before in U.S. history have Americans asked the question: Will our former president be going to federal prison for promoting a violent insurrection, or will he be returning to White House Oval office three years from now? Trump’s critics fear that U.S. democracy as we know it will cease to exist if Trump becomes president again, and a disturbing report by Axios’ Jonathan Swan describes the ways in which Trump and his MAGA allies would like to “radically reshape” the United States’ federal government if he returns to the White House in 2025. Trump World, according to Swan, calls this scheme “Schedule F.”

Swan, in an in-depth article published by Axios on July 22, reports, “Former President Trump’s top allies are preparing to radically reshape the federal government if he is reelected, purging potentially thousands of civil servants and filling career posts with loyalists to him and his ‘America First’ ideology, people involved in the discussions tell Axios. The impact could go well beyond typical conservative targets such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Internal Revenue Service. Trump allies are working on plans that would potentially strip layers at the Justice Department — including the FBI, and reaching into national security, intelligence, the State Department and the Pentagon, sources close to the former president say…. The heart of the plan is derived from an executive order known as ‘Schedule F,’ developed and refined in secret over most of the second half of Trump’s term and launched 13 days before the 2020 election.”

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According to Swan, Axios’ reporting on Schedule F “draws on extensive interviews over a period of more than three months with more than two dozen people close to the former president, and others who have first-hand knowledge of the work underway to prepare for a potential second term.”

During his four years as president, Trump made it abundantly clear that he prefers loyalists and yes-men over advisers who will offer constructive criticism — and he angrily turned against everyone from former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to former National Security Adviser John Bolton to former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. But according to Swan, a second Trump Administration would be comprised exclusively of Trump loyalists.

“Trump remains distracted by his obsession with contesting the 2020 election results, but he has endorsed the work of several groups to prime an administration-in-waiting,” Swan explains. “Personnel and action plans would be executed in the first 100 days of a second term starting on January 20, 2025. Their work could accelerate controversial policy and enforcement changes, but also, enable revenge tours against real or perceived enemies, and potentially insulate the president and allies from investigation or prosecution. They intend to stack thousands of mid-level staff jobs.”

Swan continues, “Well-funded groups are already developing lists of candidates selected often for their animus against the system — in line with Trump’s long-running obsession with draining ‘the swamp.’ This includes building extensive databases of people vetted as being committed to Trump and his agenda. The preparations are far more advanced and ambitious than previously reported. What is happening now is an inversion of the slapdash and virtually nonexistent infrastructure surrounding Trump ahead of his 2017 presidential transition. These groups are operating on multiple fronts: shaping policies, identifying top lieutenants, curating an alternative labor force of unprecedented scale, and preparing for legal challenges and defenses that might go before Trump-friendly judges, all the way to a 6-3 Supreme Court.”

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On October 21, 2020, Trump signed an executive order called “Creating Schedule F in the Excepted Service,” which was rescinded after Joe Biden was sworn in as president on January 20, 2021.

“Sources close to Trump say that if he were elected to a second term, he would immediately reimpose it,” Swan says of Schedule F. “Tens of thousands of civil servants who serve in roles deemed to have some influence over policy would be reassigned as ‘Schedule F’ employees. Upon reassignment, they would lose their employment protections. New presidents typically get to replace more than 4000 so-called ‘political’ appointees to oversee the running of their administrations. But below this rotating layer of political appointees sits a mass of government workers who enjoy strong employment protections — and typically continue their service from one administration to the next, regardless of the president’s party affiliation.”

Swan adds, “An initial estimate by the Trump official who came up with Schedule F found it could apply to as many as 50,000 federal workers — a fraction of a workforce of more than 2 million, but a segment with a profound role in shaping American life. Trump, in theory, could fire tens of thousands of career government officials with no recourse for appeals. He could replace them with people he believes are more loyal to him and to his ‘America First’ agenda. Even if Trump did not deploy Schedule F to this extent, the very fact that such power exists could create a significant chilling effect on government employees. It would effectively upend the modern civil service, triggering a shock wave across the bureaucracy.”

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