MINOT, N.D. — When former President Donald Trump took office in 2017, the often violent demonstrations against the Dakota Access Pipeline here in North Dakota were ongoing.

Trump helped bring those protests to an end, issuing a key permit for the pipeline to cross the Missouri River. Soon after the pipeline was completed and the protest camps were cleared.

But what if Trump had gone further?

What if, instead of merely taking regulatory action in favor of the pipeline, he’d deputized America’s financial institutions, tasking them with identifying participants in the protests and freezing their accounts? What if he issued an executive order defining those to be targeted by this initiative as participation in a “public assembly that may reasonably be expected to lead to a breach of the peace.”

What if Trump’s attorney general went on national television and declared that it wouldn’t just be the demonstrators themselves who would be targeted, but anyone donating money to their cause ?

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