Thursday, March 14, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He floated a trial balloon about a coup.

In an interview with Breitbart published today, Trump made a not-too-veiled reference to what he thought—or hoped—his supporters would do if he was removed from office or lost the 2020 election.

“So here’s the thing—it’s so terrible what’s happening,” Trump said when asked by Breitbart News Washington Political Editor Matthew Boyle about how the left is fighting hard. “You know, the left plays a tougher game, it’s very funny. I actually think that the people on the right are tougher, but they don’t play it tougher. Okay? I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump – I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad. But the left plays it cuter and tougher. Like with all the nonsense that they do in Congress … with all this invest[igations]—that’s all they want to do is –you know, they do things that are nasty. Republicans never played this.”

Trump has explicitly endorsed violence many times on his behalf in the past. He said that "Second Amendment people" would be all that could stop Hillary Clinton if she were elected. He's called on the audience at his rallies to beat up protestors and promised to pay the legal costs of anyone who did. (In at least one case, a Trump supporter was arrested for doing as Trump asked, only to find that Trump will not actually pay those legal costs.)

Trump has also said many times that elections are only valid if he wins, and has pre-emptively threatened civil upheaval and economic disaster if he were impeached.

In 58 elections, some of which were bitterly contested in the courts after Election Day, no losing or impeached presidential candidate has ever even hinted at some sort of uprising on his or her behalf—until now. It's not clear if Trump, who took office with a record low 46% of the popular vote and has only lost support since, actually thinks that the U.S. military would side with him in an attempt to cling to power. It absolutely would not—but setting that aside, Trump is not particularly popular with Americans serving in the military, especially for a Republican.

Trump is right about one thing, though: "Bikers for Trump" really does exist. It is a registered PAC (i.e., a political fundraising organization) founded by an artist who by his own admission doesn't ride very much.

So what?

  • It's not normal to have a president (of the United States, at least) hinting that he wants to be kept in office by violence if necessary.
  • The United States military "supports" the Constitution and the rule of law, not a specific person who some individual members might want to be President.