Timeline of a (Premeditated) Coup
Trump did it. All of it.
“In 1837, a racist mob in Alton, Illinois broke into the offices of an abolitionist newspaper and killed its editor, Elijah Lovejoy. Lincoln wrote a speech in which he said that no transatlantic military giant could ever crush us as a nation, even with all of the fortunes in the world.
“But if downfall ever comes to America, he said, we ourselves would be its author and finisher. If racist mobs are encouraged by politicians to rampage and terrorize, Lincoln said, they will violate the rights of other citizens and quickly destroy the bonds of social trust necessary for democracy to work.
“Mobs and demagogues will put us on a path to political tyranny, Lincoln said. As we'll see today, this very old problem has returned with new ferocity today, as a president who lost an election deployed a mob, which included dangerous extremists, to attack the constitutional system of election and the peaceful transfer of power.”
—Representative Jamie Raskin, July 12, 2022
On Tuesday, the House January 6th Committee connected some dots. And even if you knew the basic outlines of Donald Trump’s plan to overturn the 2020 election, the committee drew a dramatic timeline of the attempted coup:
December 14 Electoral College votes —>
December 18 The Most Unhinged Oval Office meeting ever —>
Early a.m. December 19 Trump tweets about Jan. 6th “Be there, will be wild” →
Right-wing media amplifies Trump’s call —>
Mobilization of Domestic Violent Extremists (DVE) —>
Trump plans March to Capitol —>
Jan. 6th Insurrection…
The 2020 election ended when the Electoral College voted in mid-December. Trump was told repeatedly by his campaign, his staff, and the DOJ, that it was over. But he was determined to hang on to power, anyway. The result was:
December 18: An Insane White House Meeting
Screaming arguments, personal insults, suggestions that the military seize voting machines; naming Sidney Powell special counsel. Via the NYT:
The meeting lasted for more than six hours, past midnight, and devolved into shouting that could be heard outside the room. Participants hurled insults and nearly came to blows. Some people left in tears.
Even by the standards of the Trump White House, where people screamed at one another and President Donald J. Trump screamed at them, the Dec. 18, 2020, meeting became known as an “unhinged” event — and an inflection point in Mr. Trump’s desperate efforts to remain in power after he had lost the election.
Early Morning, December 19: Trump pivots to Insurrection
Trump apparently grew frustrated with the lack of options to contest the election results during the meeting in December, it was in that moment that he turned to his supporters, encouraging them to come to Washington on Jan 6.
Just over an hour after the meeting was said to have ended, Mr. Trump tweeted at 1:42 a.m. on Dec. 19 that it was “statistically impossible” for him to have lost the election. In the tweet, he also urged supporters to gather in Washington to demonstrate, drawing dozens of responses from people sharing plans to occupy the Capitol building and photos of weapons they said they planned to bring.
“Be there, will be wild,” the tweet said.
Right-wing Media Amplifies
The MAGAMedia immediately recognized Trump’s call to action. Transcript via NPR:
ALEX JONES: It's Saturday, December 19th. The year is 2020, and one of the most historic events in American history has just taken place. President Trump, in the early morning hours today, tweeted that he wants the American people to march on Washington DC on January 6th, 2021.
TIM POOL: And now Donald Trump is calling on his supporters to descend on Washington DC January 6th.
ALEX JONES: He is now calling on we the People to take action and to show our numbers.
MATT BRACKEN: We're going to only be saved by millions of Americans moving to Washington, occupying the entire area, if — if necessary storming right into the Capitol. You know, they're — we know the rules of engagement. If you have enough people, you can push down any kind of a fence or a wall.
TIM POOL: This could be Trump's last stand. And it's a time when he has specifically called on his supporters to arrive in DC. That's something that may actually be the big push Trump supporters need to say this is it. It's now or never.
SALTY CRACKER: Ya better understand something, son. Ya better understand something. Red wave, bitch. Red wed — there's gonna be a red wedding going down January 6th. [Raskin explained that "red wedding” was “a pop culture reference to mass slaughter.]
TIM POOL: On that day, Trump says show up for a protest. It's gonna be wild. And based on what we've already seen from the previous events, I think Trump is absolutely correct.
SALTY CRACKER: Motherfucker, you better look outside. You better look out January 6th. Kick that fucking door open, look down the street. There're gonna be a million plus geeked up armed Americans.
ALEX JONES: The time for games is over. The time for action is now. Where were you when history called? Where were you when you and your children's destiny and future was on the line? [End videotape]
Domestic Extremists Mobilize
Trump’s “Be there” tweet excited and united violent groups on the far right.
JAMIE RASKIN: Indeed, many of Trump's followers took to social media to declare that they were ready to answer Trump's call.
One user asked “Is the 6th D-Day? Is that why Trump wants everyone there?”
Another asserted “Trump just told us all to come armed. Fucking A, this is happening.”
A third took it even further. It will be wild means we need volunteers for the firing squad.
Trump Plans to March on the Capitol
In a draft tweet that the former President allegedly approved but that ultimately was never sent out, Trump urged his supporters to come to Washington on Jan. 6, 2021, to attend a rally near the White House and then head toward Congress where lawmakers were set to certify Joe Biden’s election victory.
“I will be making a Big Speech at 10 a.m. on January 6th at the Ellipse (South of the White House),” read the draft tweet, which was preserved by the National Archives. “Please arrive early, massive crowds expected. March to the Capitol after. Stop the steal!”
Even though that tweet was never sent, the seditionists knew the plan. In today’s Bulwark, Amanda Carpenter lays out the details.
After speaking with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on January 2, Trump campaign aide Katrina Pierson emailed fellow rally organizers: “POTUS expectations are to have something intimate at the ellipse, and call on everyone to march to the capitol.” (You can see this at the 2:43 mark of the hearing.)
An email message from rally organizer Kylie Jane Kremer to MyPillow founder Mike Lindell on January 4 said: “It can also not get out about the march because I will be in trouble with the national park service and all the agencies but POTUS is going to just call for it ‘unexpectedly.’”
Stop the Steal organizer Ali Alexander texted a conservative journalist on January 5: “Tomorrow: Ellipse then US capitol. Trump is supposed to order us to the capitol at the end of his speech but we will see.”
Some other dazzling details from Tuesday’s hearing:
The Bannon Calls
The committee revealed that Trump spoke to Bannon twice on January 5. The committee played a clip from Bannon’s podcast recorded after he had spoken with the president in their first phone call that morning.
Fresh off his conversation with the president, Bannon told his listeners:
All hell is going to break loose tomorrow. It’s all converging. And now we’re on, as they say, the point of attack. Right. The point of attack tomorrow. I’ll tell you this. It’s not going to happen like you think it’s going to happen. It’s going to be quite extraordinarily different. And all I can say is strap in.
“The point of attack tomorrow.”
“It’s not going to happen like you think it’s going to happen.”
BONUS: “Leaked Audio: Before Election Day, Bannon Said Trump Planned to Falsely Claim Victory.”
Cipollone speaks (and Trump will hate it):
Brad Parscale’s (temporary) flash of conscience…
President Trump's former campaign manager, Brad Parscale, recognized the impact of the speech immediately and this is what he said on January 6th in excerpts from text messages to Katrina Pierson.
Mr. Parscale said, "this is about Trump pushing for uncertainty in our country". "A sitting President asking for civil war."
And then when he said, "this week I feel guilty for helping him win". Katrina Pierson responded, "you did what you felt right at the time and therefore it was right".
Mr. Parscale added, "yeah, but a woman is dead". And, "yeah, if I was Trump and I knew my rhetoric killed someone".
When Ms. Pierson replied, "it wasn't the rhetoric".
Mr. Pascal said, "Katrina, yes, it was".
But, but, but:
Parscale still works for Trump because…. well, just read Tim Miller’s book.
Trump’s Obstruction Call
Former President Donald Trump tried to contact a witness in the House select committee investigation of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, a matter the panel informed the Justice Department about, the committee Vice Chairwoman Liz Cheney (R., Wyo.) said Tuesday.
The witness is someone “you have not yet seen in these hearings,” Ms. Cheney said… “That person declined to answer or respond to President Trump’s call…. This committee has supplied that information to the Department of Justice.”
(1) Once again, the most damaging evidence is coming from inside TrumpWorld itself. Everyone we heard from yesterday was either a Trumpist or Trump-adjacent.
(2) It’s great that former aides are now testifying. But…
(3) Why didn’t they take public action between December 14 and January 6 to stop or hinder the impending violent coup? Why didn’t more of them speak out during impeachment? History’s verdict is not likely to be kind.
It Was All Trump
My colleague Amanda Carpenter sends this along to Morning Shots:
In light of another round of shocking revelations presented by the January 6th Committee, the standbys have resurrected a tired defense: Yes, it was bad, but Donald Trump was too stupid to coup and the dear old man was poorly advised by grifters who took advantage of him.
Cue Geraldo:Before he fell under malignant influence of a trio of fringe advisors President Trump told me on November 13, 2020 he was “a realist” and would “do the right thing.” I assumed he meant he would concede if there was clear proof he lost. Instead, he led us to Constitutional crisis
Cue Brit Hume:She doesn't want to acknowledge this because it would undercut her and the committee's claim that Trump was executing a "sophisticated seven-point plan" to reverse the election. A plan so sophisticated that it failed in its initial step, when Mike Pence refused to go along.
Cue John Bolton:Jake Tapper: "One doesn’t have to be brilliant to attempt a coup." John Bolton: "I disagree with that. As somebody who has helped plan coup d’etat, not here, but other places, it takes a lot of work."
Let’s put aside the smarter, better coups that Bolton claims to have pulled off. (Wut.) Maybe Bolton can find an off-brand Rumble channel to debate the merits of “How to Coup Real Good” with Peter Navarro sometime.
The point is, none of this would have happened without Trump. As the committee has shown in excruciating detail, Trump wasn’t passively advised of his ill-considered actions. At every crucial decision point, Trump actively sought out yes men and women. He relentlessly pursued people who told him what he wanted to hear and would do as he said. How else does someone like Steve-freaking-Bannon ever serve as an official White House adviser?
Trump was president of the United States. The cast of clowns meeting in the Oval Office willing to seize voting machines, cancel votes in states Biden won, object to Biden’s certification as president, and engage in dragged-out, hours-long screaming matches didn’t stumble into one of the most secure places on the planet by themselves.
Trump did it. All of it.
Trump told the lies about voter fraud. Trump gave a speech on election night saying he won. Trump’s name was on all the BS lawsuits. Trump allowed Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani to represent him. Trump leaned on DOJ to rustle up a sham investigation.
Trump had Eastman push the fraudulent false electors scheme.
Trump is the one who dangled pardons.
Trump is the one who insisted on attacking and targeting Mike Pence.
Trump is the one who summoned the mob.
And Trump is the one who pointed them at the Capitol and told them to fight.
As a proud American what stuns me as much as anything is how the White House became such a cesspool under Trump, a beacon for virtually any groupie, grifter, or lowlife who would tell the childlike insecure Trump whatever he wanted to hear and do his bidding without question. Sidney Powell? Michael Flynn? My Pillow Guy? How did such opportunists even get within the same zip code as the Oval Office?
Every time I think of it I feel the need to take a shower and try to clean off the psychological ooze and slime that accumulated over those horrendous four years -- and more, since January 6 is now the bad gift that keeps on giving. Whatever the merits of the legal case against him, Trump is clearly guilty of being the most immoral and least qualified person ever to occupy our land's highest office. That alone should disqualify him from garnering serious consideration for another run. That it doesn't speaks volumes of how wide and deep the cesspool has become in our nation, when we willingly lower our standards and confuse the cult of personality and entertainment for anything remotely resembling effective leadership and good judgment.
Whether Trump is an idiot or idiot savant I don’t see that it changes his culpability.