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Here’s an idea for a marriage of man and institution: Take a man who openly advocates criminal activity by American forces, who promises retaliation against his political enemies and against media that criticize him, who pronounces people guilty of crimes for which they have never been indicted despite lengthy investigations, and who scorns legal compliance as “political correctness.” And let’s put that person at the head of intelligence agencies with awesome powers to collect information on Americans and foreigners, to conduct covert actions, to detain people, even to kill them.

What could go possibly go wrong?

I began this series of articles by arguing that Donald Trump’s likely abuses of power, should he ever assume the presidency, would probably not begin—as many observers seemed to expect—with the intelligence community. They would begin, rather, with the mundane domestic enforcement powers of the U.S. Department of Justice and the regulatory agencies of the government. In the second installment, I looked at Trump in connection with the president’s powers of war and peace. But this emphasis on other, non-intelligence powers of the presidency as the front lines of the likely confrontation between Trump’s personality and the nature of the office he seeks does not mean that I think the intelligence community would be safe from the man’s predations.

I emphatically do not think that.

So in this final installment, I want to return to the intelligence community and take a sober look at how a Trump presidency could be expected to abuse it.

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