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Orchestrating a "military coup" for Trump
Plausible or not, dangerous talk like Michael Flynn's is what led to January 6th, and inspires further violence
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Donald Trump, for months after the November 2020 election, was trying to engineer a self-coup — attempting to stay in office as he challenged election results.
It didn’t work. But it did lead to an attack on the Capitol, an insurrection and an act of domestic terrorism, directly incited by the president. It left police officers dead and wounded, and had members of Congress fearful for their lives and still living in terror. The vice president was threatened with execution.
Now that Trump is out of office, some of his followers are talking about a coup, including a bloody military coup. Sydney Powell, Trump’s former attorney who’s now being sued for defamation by voting machine company Dominion, said at a QAnon conference over the weekend in Dallas that Trump can “simply be reinstated” and the current president, Joe Biden, “can be told to leave the White House.” This was as she continued to promote conspiracy theories, making false claims about election fraud.
Trump himself, according to some media reports, is telling those around him he’ll be reinstalled as president by August.
That of course is not going to happen, and he knows that — even if Powell is enough of a delusional QAnon cultist to actually believe it herself.
But it makes the Big Lie metastasize, and has supporters believe Biden can be run out of the White House and Trump can be put back in.
And then, on the same Memorial Day weekend in which Biden warned that “democracy is in peril at home and abroad,” the disgraced retired general and former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn suggested at the same QAnon conference that he supported a “coup” like that which occurred in Myanmar — in which civilian leaders were imprisoned and hundreds of protesters were killed — in the United States.
Flynn responded to a question from an audience member — who identified himself as a Marine — regarding Myanmar and why there couldn’t be a similar bloody coup in the U.S.:
I want to know why what happened in Minamar (sic)can't happen here?
Flynn responded with encouragement and support.
No reason, I mean, it should happen here. No reason. That's right.
Flynn also emphatically said Trump “won” the election, both the “popular vote” and the “Electoral College,” which is of course completely untrue. QAnon cultists view Flynn, pardoned by Trump for his crimes against the U.S., as one of their leaders, and Flynn has embraced them, partially to pay off millions of dollars in debt with paid appearances.
This past summer, Mr. Flynn posted a video of himself taking QAnon’s “digital soldier” oath. To many of the movement’s followers, Mr. Flynn ranks just below Mr. Trump. Some have speculated that he is the mysterious figure known as “Q,” the purported government insider with a high-level security clearance who began posting cryptic messages in 2017 about the deep state trying to destroy the president….
…The phrase “digital soldiers” is drawn from a speech Mr. Flynn gave shortly after the 2016 election during which he inadvertently laid the groundwork for the conspiracy theory. He compared the Trump campaign to an insurgency — a theme that QAnon adherents would later adopt for themselves — with “an army of digital soldiers.”
QAnon message boards have also been obsessed with the coup in Myanmar and the brutal act of authoritarianism, and have pined for a coup in the U.S.
Only after an uproar on social media — and perhaps because of the potential of Flynn being court-martialed and losing his pension — Flynn claimed he was misquoted and said he didn’t support a coup. That is absolutely ridiculous, because his words speak for themselves.
And the damage of course is done.
Like Powell’s claims, Flynn’s and his QAnon followers’ fantasy of of a military coup is just that, a fantasy, as U.S. military leaders from all reports are glad to see the deranged Trump gone, away from the nuclear codes, and aren’t about to bring him back. But Flynn’s words fuel the extremist white supremacist groups and militias planning and plotting a new insurrection, still hoping to overthrow the government.
Before the domestic terror attack on the Capitol of January 6th, Flynn suggested several times that Trump should declare “martial law.” That didn’t happen but the insurrection — a violent attack by Trump supporters, many of whom were wearing tactical military gear — did.
Last week I wrote about the talk of “a Second Civil War” among Trump supporters, as states like South Carolina and Texas move to allowing people to openly carry guns without a license. The call to take up arms — and the mass shootings we’re seeing, many motivated by racial hatred — is being heard loud and clear.
When Flynn suggests a “military coup” to people who already consider that they are the military — the militias that point to the Constitution giving them a right to bear arms — it’s not shocking if the result is more violence by deluded and dangerous people.