According to a campaign surrogate, President-elect Donald Trump's campaign is making a list and checking it twice — and it's just the kind of list that should concern the American public. At Trump's election night party in New York this week, former Apprentice contestant and Trump surrogate Omarosa Manigault told Independent Journal Review that Trump's campaign was allegedly keeping a "list" of "enemies." And while the hotel mogul has held his fair share of grudges, if Trump's enemies list actually exists, it should worry everyone.
It all began after Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham announced on Twitter, on Election Day, that he had not voted for Trump and instead voted for independent candidate Evan McMullin. Several hours later, in New York, Manigault told IJR that Graham's Twitter announcement was, in fact, a positive thing.
"It’s so great our enemies are making themselves clear so that when we get in to the White House, we know where we stand," she said. "If [Graham] felt his interests was with that candidate, God bless him. I would never judge anybody for exercising their right to and the freedom to choose who they want. But let me just tell you, Mr. Trump has a long memory and we’re keeping a list."
The 281 People, Places, Things Donald Trump Has Insulted on Twitter: A Complete List Nyt. Recall Nixon Enemies List? https://t.co/9NOx1qzpe1— David Kalow (@daknycip) October 25, 2016
Whether that list exists is up for debate, of course. At least one person said there's no such list: Trump campaign COO Jeff DeWit was quick to dismiss Manigault's claims on Wednesday. "I have never heard of that and I have never seen such a list," he told KTAR News. "If I ever hear of a list like that, I’ll burn it. I’ll throw it in the fire."
But Trump wouldn't be the first president to keep an enemies list. Back in 1971, Richard Nixon had his staff compile a list of enemies, and the file explained, "This memorandum addresses the matter of ... how we can use the available federal machinery to screw our political enemies." According to RealClearPolitics, Nixon expected to "screw" his political enemies by subjecting them to cumbersome tax audits and messing with any federal contracts or grants they had.
Trump has also already kept a blacklist of sorts in the past — throughout his campaign, Trump frequently denied press credentials to media outlets who didn't cover him to their liking. (Trump also threatened to open up libel laws to journalists if he became president, threatening freedom of the press.) And just like Trump's interactions with the media were dangerous during his campaign, the idea that he is now allegedly rounding up a list of political enemies is equally as dangerous.
Even if Trump would not actively go after political opponents like Nixon may have, politicians need to be able to work together despite not necessarily agreeing with one another. If a Trump administration were to potentially shut out politicians from opportunities because they did not vote for him — or if he discredited them or discouraged their involvement — it would set an incredibly dangerous precedent. Even simply saying someone is "on a list" (in the sense that Manigault used it, at least) is a form of intimidation and runs counter to a democratic society.
So if Trump truly does have an enemies list, it'd be wise for DeWit to start building a fire right now. Because when you're president, making a list of the naughty politicians who have wronged you isn't holiday fun — instead, it's opening the doors to far more dangerous practices.