Written by Hudson Crozier
The scoop: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is reportedly making detailed plans for how he, as president, would reform federal agencies that conservatives increasingly see as unaccountable and politicized. He is especially targeting the Department of Justice and the intelligence community for trying to influence elections, investigating political opponents, and telling Big Tech platforms to censor speech.
The strategy: The GOP presidential candidate wants to relocate the FBI and other “problematic” parts of the DOJ out of Washington, D.C. He also wants to make sure its Civil Rights Division is “actually policing discrimination” based on colorblind standards because “discrimination is discrimination,” no matter the race of the victim. DeSantis would also order federal agents not to participate in censoring “so-called misinformation” on social media and revoke security clearances from former intelligence officials who use their credentials for partisan ends.
On a mission: DeSantis says that a president has the constitutional authority to fire any federal employee who is in any way “performing poorly.” And if elected, he says he will begin all these plans swiftly without waiting for approval from Congress.
Trump’s plan: Similarly, former President Donald Trump, the GOP frontrunner for 2024, plans to bring back an executive order allowing the president to fire thousands of federal employees and is preparing a vast team of loyalists to replace them. In December, he unveiled a policy plan to fight online government censorship with a mix of executive orders and legislation. He also wants Congress to defund the DOJ and FBI as he faces charges in federal court over his handling of classified documents. As president, he repeatedly proposed defunding various agencies in annual budget bills.
Would any of this work? Both candidates’ executive actions would be impactful during the next term, but without legislation, the next president could undo them all. Additionally, DeSantis’s disputed view that a president can fire any bureaucrat might face legal challenges. Trump’s legislative proposals on censorship, though harder to pass, are the only measures that would bring lasting change.