“Those of us who served in the administration are convinced that the president will use the lame-duck period to wield the powers of his office to exact revenge against political opponents,” says Miles Taylor, a former Department of Homeland Security official who wrote an anonymous 2018 op-ed piece in The New York Times that depicted Trump as dangerously incompetent. “It was something he was prone to do when he was in office and was often talked out of. But now that he’s on the way out, I think the president would feel he has nothing to lose.”

Former President Richard Nixon kept an enemies list, but it was private. Trump makes no secret of his. “Bad things are going to happen to him,” he said at a rally in Florida last month after Taylor revealed publicly that he had written the op-ed. At another rally on the eve of the election, Trump suggested he might fire Anthony Fauci, the veteran government scientist and a member of the White House coronavirus task force whose dire warnings about the pandemic clashed with the president’s rosier assessments…

If firings won’t work, there’s always scorn. Trump’s emotional bond with his most loyal supporters is a weapon in its own right. His foes become their foes. When he insults people he dislikes, he triggers his supporters to do the same. Last month, the Brookings Institution released a study that examined a trio of Trump tweets that targeted Democratic officials, including Governors Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan and Ralph Northam of Virginia. Immediately after Trump issued the tweets, “levels of severe toxicity and threats increased” online, the study concluded.