The Interpreter: Trump’s Threat to Jail Clinton Also Targets Democracy’s Institutions

“For those of us who work on authoritarian regimes and hybrid regimes,” she added, referring to a kind of government midway between democracy and dictatorship, such as Turkey, “this sort of thing is just eerily familiar.”

Mr. Trump’s remark, then, could be interpreted as a threat not only to Mrs. Clinton, but also to the police agencies, prosecutors and courts that normally apply the law. By suggesting that he alone could determine her fate — appointing a special prosecutor on a case the F.B.I. has already dismissed and predetermining the outcome — Mr. Trump seemed to disregard these institutions as illegitimate.

Professor LeBas called this “the absolute personalization of power,” in which leaders consolidate authority under themselves — something she had seen in “Zimbabwe, Togo, Ethiopia, cases like that, where…

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