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Is Trump mounting a coup -- or just putting on a circus?

48 Comments
By Sebastian Smith
US President Donald Trump's chaotic response to the election has many guessing to his motivations Photo: AFP

Is President Donald Trump's unprecedented assault on the U.S. election results a coup in progress -- or mere political show?

In this golden age of conspiracy theories, few can agree.

Ostensibly, Trump is exercising his right to complain that the count showing Democrat Joe Biden with a solid if close win was wrong. "Rigged Election!" he tweeted in his latest broadside on Thursday.

But the president is not making much sense.

Plenty of U.S. elections have been as close as his Nov 3 loss -- or closer -- and no incumbent ever alleged that his victory was stolen or refused to concede. U.S. elections just don't have those kinds of problems.

More than a week after Election Day, not a single piece of credible, significant evidence of fraud has been provided.

So what's really going on?

For some, Trump is finally showing his true authoritarian colors.

This is a president who openly admires the likes of President Vladimir Putin, the king of warping democratic institutions to award himself power. Now, the theory goes, he's following suit.

But what if Trump is more slipshod showman than Machiavellian mastermind?

If his team's embarrassing courtroom failures and a bizarre press conference by his fixer Rudy Giuliani at a Philadelphia gardening center called Four Seasons Total Landscaping are anything to go by, that may be the more logical answer.

Still, when Trump fired his relatively independent-minded defense secretary Mark Esper on Monday, and then several other high-ranking officials, blood pressure levels shot up among those already on edge.

"In the last 24 hours, the Secretary of Defense (SecDef), the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy (USD-P), and the Under Secretary of Defense for Intell (OUSD-I) have been sacked.... Why?" tweeted Alexander Vindman, a retired army officer turned White House staffer who was fired after testifying against Trump during his 2019 impeachment.

Alarm bells also went off when Trump's attorney general, Bill Barr, authorized federal prosecutors to join Trump's quest for election irregularities.

The Justice Department's chief election crimes official, Richard Pilger, resigned in protest.

Barr is "permitting the department to be weaponized to try to overturn the results of this election," wrote former senior Pentagon lawyer Ryan Goodman and Andrew Weissmann, who was part of the special counsel's team investigating Trump's Russia links, in The Washington Post.

In the most extreme scenario, some warn of a coup within the Electoral College.

This is the mostly symbolic body comprised of representatives sent from each state to elect presidents on the basis of the popular vote.

What if Republican state legislatures managed to send hand-picked electors who would ignore the vote and choose Trump instead?

The doomsday scenario is being widely discussed in the media but appears far-fetched in real life.

"To begin with, even talk of doing so would trigger massive unrest and put legislators under unprecedented pressure," wrote Richard Hasen, a law professor at the University of California.

But given the high stakes, nerves are jangled.

And Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's odd comment on Tuesday that the government is preparing for "a second Trump term" didn't help.

The alternate theory is that Trump is just being Trump -- the perpetual performer who can't stand being out of the limelight and will leave the stage only after putting on the show of his life.

Even though he came second, Trump got more than 72 million votes and that huge fan base is famously loyal.

According to a Politico/Morning Consult poll, an amazing 70 percent of Republicans don't think the election was free and fair -- testimony to the power of Trump's persuasion.

So it would make sense for a man whose brand rests heavily on macho concepts about "fighting" and "winning" to go down in the way his followers expect.

Beyond putting on a political circus, Trump may have more personal goals: his financial and career future.

At an energetic 74 and in possession of a gigantic database of voter information, Trump clearly has options beyond quietly curating a presidential library.

One clue lies in his frantic appeals for money.

Read the fine print in Trump's "Official Election Defense Fund" mass emails and it becomes apparent that donations won't only go to fighting the "left-wing MOB."

A hefty portion is being directed to paying off Trump's 2020 campaign debt and more is going to a newly formed Political Action Committee or PAC which will help him back chosen candidates in the future or even launch a possible new presidential bid in 2024.

Whether or not Trump pursues electoral politics, he is widely expected to dive into broadcasting, with a reported mission to punish Fox News for what he sees as insufficient loyalty.

Fox "forgot what made them successful, what got them there. They forgot the Golden Goose," he said Thursday in a burst of tweets attacking Rupert Murdoch's network and boosting the conspiracy theory peddling right-wing channels Newsmax and OANN.

Could Trump's post-election chaos in fact be the pilot episode for the former reality TV star's next series?

© 2020 AFP

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.


48 Comments
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Both.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

A circus, with him being the main actor .... the clown.

11 ( +14 / -3 )

I am wandering what would happen if with help from Barr, Pompeo and loyal Republicans this scenario plays out:

In the most extreme scenario, some warn of a coup within the Electoral College.

This is the mostly symbolic body comprised of representatives sent from each state to elect presidents on the basis of the popular vote.

What if Republican state legislatures managed to send hand-picked electors who would ignore the vote and choose Trump instead?

The doomsday scenario is being widely discussed in the media but appears far-fetched in real life.

What would be peoples reaction? Civil war? Demonstrations? General strikes?

45% of voters support him and 70% of them think elections were tampered with. That is 70% of 72 million = 50 million or 15% of total US population.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

It happened in a small way in 2016 when 2 electors abandoned Trump and 3 electors attempted to abandon Clinton.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

The White House has become the Big Top and Trump is the ringleader of this sideshow. Rudy Giuliani is biting the heads off chickens in the back. So many carnival acts in this administration.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Putting on a circus? Nah... continuing one.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Is Trump mounting a coup -- or just putting on a circus?

That's they key question isn't it....

And the only person who knows is our two-year old President; brooding and sulking as he deals with his humiliating defeat...

If it is a coup, one wonders how many Americans will side with the cult of personality over the Constitution and Bill of Rights...

6 ( +9 / -3 )

It does appear like a coup ... to anyone limited to watching and reading the MSM.

There clearly was unprecedented election fraud, I hope Trump fights the swamp creatures to the end.

-15 ( +4 / -19 )

I don't think there was widespread fraud. But even for me, this is hard to ignore:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WU7wvk78Zdg

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

TRUMP mounting a coup!? Isn't it obvious what has been going on the last four years, and what culminated in this mess of an election?

Russia hoax proved to be a big nothing burger

Impeachment didn't phase him

None of the "insider" tell-alls did anything.

It took election fraud to just BARELY "beat" Trump and he is legally contesting it.

Coup is the furthest thing from what he's doing.

-11 ( +3 / -14 )

Coup. If Biden is prevented from rightfully taking office I think we will see a fair bit of blood spilt on the streets.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

I think he is testing the waters to see what he can get away with, because he knows that he faces prosecution and financial ruin as soon as he leaves the White House.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

The more I think about it, the more I feel there is a real possibility of a Electoral College coup! And unfortunately Democrats are not taking this situation seriously. I hear no big protests to what has been said and done, there is no push back at all!!!

All the parts of the jigsaw puzzle are coming together. Pompeo's comment, Barr's investigation which on the surface legitimize the idea that elections were unfair to Trump and even more worrying are Republican lawmakers in Arizona, Wisconsin, Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania who are saying that the results may be fraudulent, even though they haven’t produced any evidence to that effect.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I forgot the firings and resignations at Pentagon and replaced with Trump loyalists. That leads me to think that Trump might try to use the military to squash any unrest after the coup. I just hope the military will refuse to follow orders if that happens and not start shooting civilians.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Circuses have clowns, yes!

3 ( +5 / -2 )

solid if close win?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

There's nothing close about the election. Biden won a historical number of votes more than 5 million ahead of Trump and at least 50 more EC votes.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Homeland Security agency: 2020 election was the ‘most secure in American history’

6 ( +7 / -1 )

I am in agreement with on this one. We lost. That is all. Its not a huge problem.

The GOP has the Senate as of today 50/48 with two seats open. Both will go to the GOP I hope.

Biden will have one hand tied behind his back for sure.

2024 Cruz-Gowdy!

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

He reminds me of a grandpa with dementia who rants and get. angry because he thinks strangers are coming into his house and stealing his stuff without any evidence and then getting even angrier when his family won’t believe him.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

As a Republican senator once said:

Why do people hate Ted Cruz immediately?

It saves time.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

well, he thinks it's a coup, but it ends up looking like a circus, as usual.

Why do people hate Ted Cruz immediately?

It saves time.

LOL

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Here is an article on the subject of coup:

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/nov/11/can-donald-trump-stay-in-office-second-term-president-coup?utm_term=d82753d7afb099dbdd62a80b5366a12b&utm_campaign=USMorningBriefing&utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&CMP=usbriefing_email

1 ( +1 / -0 )

US guys at the office say that Trump is such a drama queen.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

So it seems the only cheat and fraud is Trump himself.

The election agencies and the Homeland Security have declared it the safest election in history.

Biden wins Arizona.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

The truly sad thing about this circus is that we all have to put up with it for another few months. What a waste of news space!!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Biden's domestic agenda will be in the back burner for a while. Don't expect China or Russia or North Korea or Iran or anyone else to give him time for it. They didn't even congratulate him. Not a good sign. Good luck joe. Uncle Donald was easy.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Hillary Clinton's former Chief of Staff gives Trump's court challenge a 20% chance of success.

My guess is its quite larger than that. All the powers that be are insisting this was the "fairest" election in history - yet they are fighting tooth and nail against any investigations.

SCOTUS will have the final say.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

US election officials have said the 2020 White House vote was the "most secure in American history", rejecting President Donald Trump's fraud claims.

The announcement marks the most direct rebuttal from federal and state officials of President Trump's unsubstantiated claims of election fraud.

Thursday's joint statement was released by the Election Infrastructure Government Co-ordinating Council - which is made up of senior officials from the Department of Homeland Security and the US Election Assistance Commission as well as state-level officials who oversee elections and representatives of the voting machine industry.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

He's getting ready to run in 2024, if he gets out on early release or is paroled by then.

It's ironic that in the US, a convicted felon can run for president, but cannot vote.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Election officials in Georgia stated the hand recount process will be completed by next week.

In a news conference on Thursday, officials said they received numerous reports of voting irregularities that may have swayed the election. They stressed Joe Biden is currently leading President Trump by only 14,000 votes and stated that instances of fraud are possible.

Georgia officials also rejected Democrat accusations of political bias behind their decision to recount.

“Let me be perfectly clear on this,” Voting System Implementation Manager Gabriel Sterling said. “If it was 14,000 votes the other way, we would be doing the exact same thing.”

The recount in Georgia is widely expected to give President Trump 16 electoral votes as well as expose a rampant Democrat effort to manipulate the vote.

“We want to make sure this is a fair and transparent election,” Rep. Vernon Jones (D-Ga.) said. “More importantly, this is not just for Republicans but for Democrats as well.”

The Democrats have gone from "there was no illegal voting" to "Yes, there was illegal voting but its not widespread" to the present "the illegal voting is not systemic!!"

The walls are closing in....

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Did you miss that? They are top level agencies declaring the safest election in history.

the Election Infrastructure Government Co-ordinating Council - which is made up of senior officials from the Department of Homeland Security and the US Election Assistance Commission as well as state-level officials who oversee elections and representatives of the voting machine industry.

rejecting President Donald Trump's fraud claims.

The walls have closed in on Trump isolating himself in the WH but not carrying out his duties.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Did you miss that? They are top level agencies declaring the safest election in history.

Oh? Is that what Democrats and the deep state said? Well, I guess we might as well put this to rest!

Sorry, there will be full investigations in several sates now.

If you're so confident, why do you sound so very scared??

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

It is his right and not the first time this has happened in America.

We won't REALLY know who our president is until the electoral college votes and it is certified by congress. So far as it stands, Biden just won the popular vote. Usually the popular wins, but not always.

Truth is behind closed doors America is really a one party country. It is only the media and political lip service that makes it appear they are different. So it will continue to be ssdd.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

I think it's good if he runs in 2024. When it comes to being the choice of the people, he's been a Loser twice. The people have never chosen Trump (Unlike Obama, who was chosen by the people twice!). Trump had a good strategy (or more likely strategist) one time, and he as a one-trick-pony used his one trick, which allowed him to win the electoral college, even though the people knew he was a Loser and wanted Hillary. If he runs again in 2024, it means another more reasonable republican won't, and Trump will be proven as a Loser for the third time.

I'm surprised how many people support The Loser. And I wonder are the people who support losers winners?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The Democrats have gone from "there was no illegal voting" to "Yes, there was illegal voting but its not widespread" to the present "the illegal voting is not systemic!!"

No, that's been the stance all along, that there has never been any indication of wide-scale electoral fraud.

The last election and this one as well, there have been Republicans trying to illegally vote. Even with all the illegal Republican votes, Trump was still too much of a loser to have been the choice of the people.

Here's some links to Republican voters who were caught for electoral fraud:

https://www.newsweek.com/trump-supporter-voter-fraud-president-viral-video-1546876

https://www.dailylocal.com/news/charges-filed-in-father-son-voter-fraud-case-in-chester-county/article_19d8db38-250b-11eb-bded-5765af29bc08.html

https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/politics-government/election/article246971357.html

As we can clearly see, the electoral fraud in the US is only from the Republicans.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Oh? Is that what Democrats and the deep state said? Well, I guess we might as well put this to rest!

How DARE people not believe your far-right extremist conspiracy theories without question like good Trumpet sheep. How DARE they!

6 ( +6 / -0 )

no greater joy than to watch and see the very nervous posts by a certain few who are slowly beginning to realize theres a very real chance that it will all be taken away from them again.

Oh, I think we've realized that Trump would never be the choice of the people, and that he could steal the election again. And we definitely worry that even though he's a Loser, and Lost, he still could Steal the Election. But, the more time passes, the more it looks like the Loser will be forced to deal with the Reality, that everyone can point and laugh at him and say "look at the Loser!"

Of course however, we know only Winners support Losers! So the extremist-right can sleep well tonight in their beds.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

We won't REALLY know who our president is until the electoral college votes and it is certified by congress. So far as it stands, Biden just won the popular vote. Usually the popular wins, but not always.

This is pretty silly. Every election is called once the votes have been counted. After that, the electoral college vote is a formality.

Biden is the President-Elect, and Trump is The-Loser.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

The current fraud occupying the White House, with the help of legislators in both chambers, continues to delegitimize the results of the election and further undermines our democracy.

In November 2016 I was afraid the United States of America would become the laughingstock of the world. Regretful it did.

Enough is enough.

Make the USA Sane Again now!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

When I think of Trump and his planned court cases, and all the pro-Trump commenters who seem to think there will be some miraculous turn-around that gives him the election, I tend to recall a line from Der Untergang:

"Steiner's assault will bring it under control."

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@ Peter Neil

Anticipating that the 2024 campaign will need a slogan, I’ve volunteered the following:

”LET’S RUIN THE USA FOREVER” .

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Raw BeerNov. 13  10:15 am JST

It does appear like a coup ... to anyone limited to watching and reading the MSM.

What reliable, objective and impartial media outlets do you get your news from?

There clearly was unprecedented election fraud...

Nobody whose opinion matters agrees. Like judges. Or increasing numbers of Republicans.

I hope Trump fights the swamp creatures to the end.

Looking less and less likely.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

And here is Trumps tweet:

For years the Dems have been preaching how unsafe and rigged our elections have been. Now they are saying what a wonderful job the Trump Administration did in making 2020 the most secure election ever. Actually this is true, except for what the Democrats did. Rigged Election!

So Trump is simultaneously requesting praise for the integrity of the election while also trying to cast doubt upon the integrity of the election.

And his short memory span idiot followers will only remember the last sentence...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

or years the Dems have been preaching how unsafe and rigged our elections have been.

No, that is not true. What Democrats have complained about are attempts by Republican majority legislatures in states with Republican governors to legislate restrictions on the ability of the poor and people of color to vote. That is a completely separate matter from the reliability the actual vote count. The Democratic gripe is that Republicans go out of their way to find excuses to deny the poor, blacks and Latinos access to the polls.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Oh? Is that what Democrats and the deep state said?

Sigh. Only someone who has never worked in public service could say something like that. You will find if you ever want to actually look, that the people in the civil service are a pretty accurate representation of the general population. Every religious and political point of view is represented? Why? For one, citizenship and a desire to serve one's city, county state or national government is not restricted to any particular party or faith. And those who do the hiring are prohibited from considering an applicants political or religious affiliations. That keeps the whole thing pretty honest. There is no "deep state". What it is are people who take an oath to defend the laws and the Constitution doing their jobs in a non-partisan way because most such workers will serve many Presidents, Governors, Mayors etc. of both parties during their working lives. As a public servant you don't get to chose your President but you do your job regardless of who is in the White House.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Biden will have one hand tied behind his back for sure.

And that folks sums up the highest aspirations of the Republican Party today. No overarching goals for the American people. No vision of the future. Just tie the hands of the occupant of the White House. Mitch McConnell is quoted as saying "my number one priority is making sure president Obama’s a one-term president." Obstruction and attempts to turn the clock back are all the Republicans have to offer.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

SlickdrifterNov. 13  04:31 pm JST

I am in agreement with on this one. We lost. That is all. Its not a huge problem.

The GOP has the Senate as of today 50/48 with two seats open. Both will go to the GOP I hope.

Biden will have one hand tied behind his back for sure.

2024 Cruz-Gowdy!

This is an interesting insight into how Americans are quite happy to see their country crippled for at least 4 years. China will be laughing their socks off as they pass you by.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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