Democracy & Elections

The Lawfare Podcast: The Authoritarian Playbook in 2025

Benjamin Wittes, Erica Newland, Genevieve Nadeau, Jen Patja
Wednesday, February 21, 2024, 8:00 AM
What is the Authoritarian Playbook for 2025 and how worried should we be?

Published by The Lawfare Institute
in Cooperation With

The advocacy group Protect Democracy last month issued an updated version of its report entitled, “The Authoritarian Playbook.” The new report is called, “The Authoritarian Playbook for 2025: How an authoritarian president will dismantle our democracy and what we can do to protect it.” It is a fascinating compilation of things that Donald Trump has promised to do and how they could likely be expected to affect American democracy if he is elected to a second term in office. 

To discuss the report, Lawfare Editor-in-Chief Benjamin Wittes spoke with two of its authors: Genevieve Nadeau and Erica Newland, both of Protect Democracy. They talked about what's new in the report, how much of it is speculation and how much of it is simply taking Donald Trump's words seriously, opportunities to mitigate the most dire consequences of which the report warns, and whether this is just baked into the American presidency when occupied by a truly authoritarian personality. 

Benjamin Wittes is editor in chief of Lawfare and a Senior Fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution. He is the author of several books.
Erica Newland is Counsel at Protect Democracy. Before joining Protect Democracy, she served as an Attorney Adviser at the Office of Legal Counsel in the Department of Justice. Erica has also worked at the Center for Democracy & Technology, the National Security Division at the Department of Justice, the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the State Department's Office of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. Erica received her J.D. from Yale Law School, and she clerked for the Honorable Merrick B. Garland of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
Genevieve Nadeau is a Counsel at Protect Democracy. She leads a team focused on abuses of power and violations of the rule of law, is an expert on the Electoral Count Act, and is a lecturer at Harvard Law School. She previously served at the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, including as Civil Rights Division Chief; at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; and in private practice. She is a graduate of Stanford Law School.
Jen Patja is the editor and producer of The Lawfare Podcast and Rational Security. She currently serves as the Co-Executive Director of Virginia Civics, a nonprofit organization that empowers the next generation of leaders in Virginia by promoting constitutional literacy, critical thinking, and civic engagement. She is the former Deputy Director of the Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution at James Madison's Montpelier and has been a freelance editor for over 20 years.

Subscribe to Lawfare