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Escaping Trump’s Revenge

Robert B. Reich, Tribune Content Agency on

Nikki Haley won the Republican primary in Washington, D.C., yesterday, with about 63% of the vote to Donald Trump’s 33%, securing all 19 available delegates, and becoming the first woman to ever win a Republican presidential primary.

To be sure, the contest was tiny: Just over 2,000 Republicans voted in the overwhelmingly Democratic city of Washington. But I admire Nikki Haley’s tenacity.

On the other hand, I’m learning something disturbing about other Trump opponents, both Democrats and Republicans.

When I served in Bill Clinton’s Cabinet, one of my favorite progressive lawmakers was Jim McDermott, who represented Seattle from 1989 to 2017. Jim had a long and distinguished legislative record. In his final year in Congress, he became one of the most trenchant critics of Donald Trump. He’s still criticizing Trump — from his safe house.

Soon after Trump was elected in 2016, Jim blasted him for issuing inflammatory tweets, such as claiming without evidence that millions of people had voted illegally in the presidential election. Jim also openly worried about future sessions of Congress. “I think it’s going to be a very tough … helping the new president understand how a democracy actually works.”

Jim is now living in Civrac-en Medoc, a town of a few hundred people in western France, north of Bordeaux.

 

In a recent interview with Elizabeth Becker, a former Washington Post correspondent, Jim said he’s getting calls from former colleagues in Congress who fear what a vengeful Trump might do if reelected.

They wonder how to gauge the seriousness of Trump’s increasingly dire threats to American democracy and potentially to them and their families. “They are scared to do what I did — [to expatriate from the U.S.] — but are scared to stay,” Jim said. He tells them: “If you can afford it, buy a second home in France, or Spain, or Portugal, wherever … a second home that could become a safe house.”

I’ve heard similar concerns in recent months from lawmakers, officials, prosecutors, journalists, and celebrities who have been publicly critical of Trump.

They worry about Trump’s promise of “retribution” if reelected, his intention to direct the Justice Department to investigate “every Marxist prosecutor in America,” his claim that his indictments have “released the genie out of the box” that would allow him to weaponize the government against his opponents, and his vow to “root out … the radical-left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country.”

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