What must the president's morning threat assessments look like these days?
When I worked for the CIA, I used to produce the morning intelligence briefs for President Obama. I haven’t written one of these Presidential Daily Briefings in years, but if I were asked to produce tomorrow’s, it might go something like this:
Perfect Storm of Crises Poses Historical Threat to American Stability
The United States is currently embroiled in overlapping medical, economic, and political crises that combined will likely lead to profound civil and social strife and poses the greatest challenge to the country’s well-being since 1861.
President Trump and his administration’s surrogates have successfully politicized the American population’s response to the pandemic, discouraging broad and rapid adoption of effective public health measures such as imposed lockdowns and face mask laws. This politicization combined with the collapse of any sound Federal health policy to coordinate efforts between states, has resulted in numerous subsequent outbreaks throughout the United States, with personal protective equipment and ICU beds once again in short supply.
• Current projections suggest a toll of 225,000 American deaths by November with as many as 1.9 million deaths if coronavirus infects 70 percent of the U.S. population within the next two years.
Additionally, the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in the most precipitous loss of employment in U.S. history.
• Currently, nearly half of the U.S. population is without a job.
The full economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic has yet to be felt. While limited federal aid helped some Americans stave off evictions, if additional substantial aid does not come within the next 60 days, the United States will face a profound homelessness crisis.
• The additional $600 a month in Federal unemployment insurance ends for all recipients on 31 July 2020, and on August 1 2020 rent and mortgage payments are due while most state-level moratoriums on evictions end.
• Currently, 32 percent of Americans have missed at least one rent or mortgage payment and are thus primed for future eviction.
Economic hardship is almost certain to further civil unrest. The Black Lives Matter protests already constitute the largest protest movement in U.S. history, while American police forces have described themselves as under siege, and they have responded with a level of violence not seen on American streets since the anti-war protests of the Vietnam War era, fueling mistrust between large portions of the American population and government.
The most likely cause of an explosion of American strife will be a contested outcome in the 2020 election. President Trump will likely claim any unfavorable outcome is a result of illegals voting, Chinese interference, “Deep State” collusion, or some other invented means of calling into question the results.
• Trump already has prepared his base for rejecting election results on the grounds that mail-in ballots, which because of the pandemic will be common, cannot be trusted.
Should Trump call on his supporters to rally in his defense, Americans may be confronted with a constitutional crisis the likes of which have not been seen since the Civil War.
This piece originally appeared on The Experiment, produced by Jason Stanford.