Both Hands Tied Behind Your Back: Fighting a Pandemic While Deconstructing the Administrative State

President Trump’s sought to deconstruct the administrative state. Trump employed the usual mechanisms available to presidents for reining in a
noncooperative or even hostile bureaucracy. However,
Trump sought not just to control the bureaucracy, but to make it nonfunctional. To do so, he employed threats of criminal investigation, ignorance of expert opinion, and the use of public media to belittle and undermine those whose job it is to keep the government running, to enforce the law, to keep us healthy and safe. These practices were no more
evident as detrimental to the ability of the government to respond to COVID-19. We rely on the foundation we built in our 2020 book, “Directing the Whirlwind: The Trump Presidency and the Deconstruction of the Administrative State,” (2020 Peter Lang) and update his success or failure through the lens of his approach to the pandemic and in light of the shift to Biden Administration’s rebuilding of administrative capacity.