Where Tyranny Begins: The Justice Department, the FBI, and the War on Democracy (Hardcover)

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How Donald Trump used threats, co-option, and conspiracy theories to bend DOJ and FBI officials to his will to a greater extent than publicly known—and how Merrick Garland, other prosecutors, and judges failed to hold him accountable before the 2024 election.

Over the course of his presidency, Donald Trump intimidated, silenced, and bent to his will Justice Department and FBI officials, from Attorneys General Jeff Sessions and William Barr to career public servants. He sowed public doubt in both agencies so successfully that when he tried to overturn the results of the 2020 election, he paid little political cost and, despite an unprecedented array of criminal indictments, easily won the Republican nomination for the 2024 presidential election.

In Where Tyranny Begins, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist David Rohde investigates the strategies Trump systematically used to turn the country’s two most powerful law-enforcement agencies into his personal political weapons. Rohde also reveals how, during the Biden years, Justice Department non-partisan 1970s norms that Attorney General Merrick Garland reinforced inadvertently helped Trump, and could fail to deliver a trial and legal accountability by Election Day 2024.

Where Tyranny Begins exposes how ill-suited both the DOJ and FBI are to serve as checks on abuses of presidential power. The rise of hyper-partisanship and the Trump and Biden presidencies have uncovered core flaws in American constitutional democracy that Trump would exploit in a second term. A round of historic reforms equivalent to the post-Watergate reforms that stabilized American democracy in the 1970s are immediately needed. A five-word warning coined by the English philosopher John Locke in 1689 captures the stakes in 2024: “Where-ever law ends, tyranny begins.”

About the Author

David Rohde is a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the author of In Deep and three other books. He is the national security editor at NBC News and a former executive editor of The New Yorker website, where he wrote about the Justice Department, democracy, and disinformation. He is also a former New York Times, Reuters, and Christian Science Monitor reporter. He lives in New York with his family.

Praise For…

Where Tyranny Begins, like all of David Rohde’s work, is deeply sourced and thoroughly researched. It raises the reader above the never-ending assault of headlines to a compelling narrative that sheds light, at last, on the Justice Department’s struggles to reckon with Donald Trump.

— Andrea Bernstein, Peabody Award–winning co-host of the Trump, Inc. podcast from WNYC and ProPublica and author of American Oligarchs
Product Details
ISBN: 9780393881967
ISBN-10: 0393881962
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: August 27th, 2024
Pages: 304
Language: English