Tuesday Reads: “Yes, It Was a Coup” — Fiona HillPosted: January 12, 2021
I’m still feeling emotionally overwhelmed by the events of last week and the subsequent day-by-day revelations that the coup attempt was so much worse than it first appeared. Furthermore, the danger of violent insurrection by Trump supporters isn’t over by any means.
At Politico, Russia expert Fiona Hill explains why what happened last week was a coup attempt: Yes, It Was a Coup. Here’s Why. What Trump tried is called a “self-coup,” and he did it in slow motion and in plain sight.
Since last Wednesday, people have been arguing what to call what happened at the U.S. Capitol — was it a riot? An uprising? An insurrection? I’ve been public in calling it a coup, but others disagree. Some have said it’s not a coup because the U.S. military and other armed groups weren’t involved, and some because Donald Trump didn’t invoke his presidential powers in support of the mob that broke into the Capitol. Others point out that no one has claimed or proved there was a secret plan directed by the president, and that Trump’s efforts to overturn the outcome of the 2020 presidential election could never have succeeded in the first place.
These observations are based on the idea that a coup is a sudden, violent seizure of power involving clandestine plots and military takeovers. By contrast, Trump’s goal was to keep himself in power, and his actions were taken over a period of months and in slow motion.
But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a coup attempt. Trump disguised what he was doing by operating in plain sight, talking openly about his intent. He normalized his actions so people would accept them. I’ve been studying authoritarian regimes for three decades, and I know the signs of a coup when I see them.
Technically, what Trump attempted is what’s known as a “self-coup” and Trump isn’t the first leader to try it. Charles Louis Napoleon Bonaparte (nephew of the first Napoleon) pulled one off in France in December 1851 to stay in power beyond his term. Then he declared himself Emperor, Napoleon III. More recently, Nicolas Maduro perpetrated a self-coup in Venezuela after losing the 2017 elections.
The storming of the Capitol building on January 6 was the culmination of a series of actions and events taken or instigated by Trump so he could retain the presidency that together amount to an attempt at a self-coup. This was not a one-off or brief episode. Trump declared “election fraud” immediately on November 4 even while the votes were still being counted. He sought to recount and rerun the election so that he, not Joe Biden, was the winner. In Turkey, in 2015, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan successfully did the same thing; he had called elections to strengthen his presidency, but his party lost its majority in the Parliament. He challenged the results in the courts, marginalized the opposition and forced what he blatantly called a “re-run election.” He tried again in the Istanbul mayoral election in 2019 but was thwarted.
Again, the latest reporting shows that the threat of violence from the Trump hoards is not over. CNN: New terror threat points to plot to surround Capitol, lawmaker says.
Thousands of armed pro-Donald Trump extremists are plotting to surround the US Capitol ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, according to a member of Congress who was among those briefed late Monday on a series of new threats against lawmakers and the Capitol itself.
“They were talking about 4,000 armed ‘patriots’ to surround the Capitol and prevent any Democrat from going in,” Rep. Conor Lamb, a Pennsylvania Democrat, told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on “New Day.” “They have published rules of engagement, meaning when you shoot and when you don’t. So this is an organized group that has a plan. They are committed to doing what they’re doing because I think in their minds, you know, they are patriots and they’re talking about 1776 and so this is now a contest of wills.”
He continued, “We are not negotiating with or reasoning with these people. They have to be prosecuted. They have to be stopped. And unfortunately, that includes the President, which is why he needs to be impeached and removed from office.”
Monday’s briefing followed an FBI bulletin warning of “armed protests” being planned at all 50 state capitols and in Washington, DC, and provides the latest sense of a heightened state of alarm among lawmakers and law enforcement officials following last week’s deadly siege at the US Capitol.
Two Democratic lawmakers who participated in the briefing told CNN that they were walked through several scenarios on a call Monday and officers were sober about the threats. An effort was made to emphasize how different security is right now, the members said.
“They are very strong when we are weak. That is when the mob psychology takes hold and they are emboldened, but when met with actual determined force, I think a lot of these fantasy world beliefs about what will happen when they come to Washington will melt away,” one of the members said.
Let’s hope so, but these people are crazy. They’ve been brainwashed by right wing media and insane conspiracy theories. They seem impervious to facts. Read more details on the briefing at HuffPost: House Democrats Briefed On 3 Terrifying Plots To Overthrow Government.
Stephen Collinson at CNN with a summary of where things stand today: Trump’s disastrous end to his shocking presidency.
President Donald Trump is leaving America in a vortex of violence, sickness and death and more internally estranged than it has been for 150 years.
The disorientating end to his shocking term has the nation reeling from a Washington insurrection. The FBI warned Monday of armed protests by pro-Trump thugs in 50 states, which raise the awful prospect of a domestic insurgency. Lawmakers have been briefed about a plot to surround the US Capitol by extremists inspired by Trump’s false and dangerous claims the election was stolen. Health officials fear 5,000 Americans could soon be dying every day from the pandemic Trump ignored. Hospitals are swamped and medical workers are shattered amid a faltering rollout of the vaccine supposed to end the crisis.
It took 200 years for the country to rack up its first two presidential impeachments. Trump’s malfeasance has led the country down that awful, divisive path twice in just more than a year. With House Democrats expected to formally impeach the President for inciting a mob assault on Congress on Wednesday, he will rely on the Republican enablers who refused to rein in his lawlessness to save him from conviction again.
Millions of Americans have bought into the delusional, poisoned fiction that an election Trump lost was stolen, and there are signs that some police and military forces have been radicalized by the grievance he stokes.
The city Trump has called home for four years is being turned into an armed camp incongruous with the mood of joy and renewal that pulsates through most inaugurations. In a symbol of a democracy under siege, the people’s buildings — the White House and the US Capitol — are caged behind ugly iron and cement barriers.
This is the legacy President-elect Joe Biden will inherit in eight days when he swears to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution — an oath that Trump trampled when inciting the Capitol attack last week from behind a bulletproof screen while buckling the cherished US chain of peaceful transfers of power.
Tim Miller writes at the Bulwark: The Attack on Democracy Is Not Over. It’s Still Happening. Right Now.
Republicans in Congress are playing a dangerous game, again, this time trying to dodge responsibility for having incited the violent mob attack on the U.S. Capitol, rather than address the ongoing threat head-on.
Their new posture is premised on the notion that what happened last Wednesday was a one-off protest that got out of hand. This is false.
That attack was merely part of—note, not “the terminus of”—an ongoing, multi-pronged assault on the foundation of our democratic system by hostile actors.
It is an assault that nearly all members of the Republican congressional caucus have taken part in; some as witting pro-insurrection cultists, and others as cowardly, cowering coddlers.
Where do we go from here?
1) An FBI bulletin reports that “Armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols from 16 January through at least 20 January, and at the U.S. Capitol from 17 January through 20 January.”
2) Militia members are plotting a January 19 action in Washington, D.C.
3) TheDonald.Win forum members are calling for political executions.
4) The president who incited the insurrection is set to speak today in Alamo, Texas. This symbolism is not lost on his supporters.
5) After the insurrection, MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell—who has sponsored and funded the “news outlets” that fomented the insurrection—put a video on Instagram saying that the effort to overturn the election is not over; that this is “the biggest crime in election history”; that Biden’s inauguration should be delayed if Trump does not stay in power; and that keeping Trump in power will “prevent civil war.” As of yesterday, Lindell was not backing down from his continued claims of fraud.
6) Since the insurrection many of the “news” outlets that fomented it are completely unchastened, and their propaganda is continuing to be shared by Republican elected officials.
Now consider how Republicans in government are continuing to try to derail the transfer of power:
1) The FBI, DOJ, and DHS have all been silent about the attack, avoiding any public briefing for fear of offending the president who perpetrated it. (Though it should be said that the FBI seems to be doing a fair job of tracking down and arresting suspects.)
2) Administration officials who are ostensibly in charge of homeland security are resigning rather than engaging in crisis management.
3) The Senate isn’t even in session. Mitch McConnell cited their vacation as an excuse for not holding a Trump impeachment trial. There have been no hearings about the sacking of the Capitol.
4) For the first time in the last ten transitions, the GOP Senate is not confirming Biden cabinet members prior to the inauguration. That’s right: There will be no Homeland Security secretary, attorney general, secretary of State, or secretary of Health and Human Services when Joe Biden takes office in the wake of a domestic terror attack during a pandemic which has killed nearly 400,000 Americans.
5) Republican officials continue to call for investigations into imaginary fraud in order to appease the insurrectionists.
6) Several Republican officials have threatened the possibility of more violence if Trump is held to account for his actions.
Take all of these data points together and what you have is an active, ongoing threat to our democratic system from forces both inside and outside the government.
Meanwhile, Trump is headed to the Alamo to brag about his border wall. My guess is that destination is no coincidence. He hasn’t given up on overturning the election and becoming a dictator like his idols Putin and Erdogan. On his way out of the White House, Trump made clear that he takes no responsibility for the violent attack on the Capitol.
The Guardian: ‘Totally appropriate’: Trump shows no remorse over role in Capitol attack.
An unrepentant Donald Trump has denied inciting an insurrection at the US Capitol last week, claiming his speech before the violence was “totally appropriate”.
The president spoke to reporters for the first time since a pro-Trump mob rampaged through the Capitol last Wednesday, leaving five people dead. Democrats accuse him of stoking violence and could vote to impeach him on Wednesday.
“So if you read my speech, and many people have done it, and I’ve seen it both in the papers and in the media, on television, it’s been analysed, and people thought that what I said was totally appropriate,” Trump insisted at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, ahead of a trip to Texas.
As he left the White House on Tuesday, Trump said: “The impeachment is really a continuation of the greatest witch-hunt in the history of politics. It’s ridiculous. It’s absolutely ridiculous. This impeachment is causing tremendous anger and it’s really a terrible thing that they’re doing.”
Hoping to turn impeachment into another partisan fight and rally disenchanted Republicans back to his side, Trump condemned Democrats for pursuing the charge.
“For Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to continue on this path,” he said, “I think it’s causing tremendous danger to our country and it’s causing tremendous anger.”
But he added: “I want no violence.”
There’s another blatant lie. We still have to survive eight more days of this madness. Take care everyone. Be kind to yourselves today.