- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
A number of readers respond to my columns. Some ask why I continue to write about Donald Trump. The answer is simple. Trump and his followers are a very real threat to the continuation of our representative democracy. This cannot be overstated.
All of us witnessed a well-planned coup attempt on January 6 when a mob attacked the Capitol and threatened our duly elected representatives. This was not a stand-alone event. It was part of a well-planned plot with two parallel strategies. The first was to steal the election procedurally. The second was to instigate a mob to terrorize officials into going along with it.
John Eastman, a Trump lawyer, drew up the plan based on the Big Lie of massive Democratic voter fraud in swing states. Trump used this fantasy to gather supporters for a "wild protest" on January 6, to whip them into a rage, and set them on the Capitol. Eastman used the same lie to justify Trump schemes to overturn the election procedurally.
ABC News chief Washington correspondent, Jonathan Karl, describes how Trump loyalists had previously led a purge inside the administration:
"No disloyalty of the president would be tolerated. No dissent would be tolerated.
"In those final weeks of his administration, those final couple of months when he took his darkest turn, there was nobody around to rein him in or to question what he was doing."
Finally things turned deadly on January 6, when the coup was instigated by Trump. This was an overt plan to overthrow the government, sow confusion, pit seats of power within the government and military against one another, and rile up those prone to violent change.
The activities of Michael Flynn, Trump’s national security adviser, and Sydney Powell, one of Trump’s attorneys, were an integral part of the plot.
Flynn called Ezra Cohen, a senior intelligence official, asking him to participate in undoing the election results. Cohen was to get orders signed, ballots seized, and measures taken to stop Democrats from winning the election.
Flynn had ingratiated himself into extremist, anti-democratic groups to push the lie that the election was stolen. He even lobbied the Pentagon for a military coup in the U.S. similar to what occurred in Myanmar (Burma). Flynn was allegedly one of the conspirators who attended an Oval Office meeting when participants discussed seizing voting machines, declaring a national emergency, invoking security emergency powers, and continuing to spread the lie that the election was invalid due to widespread fraud.
Sydney Powell also called Ezra Cohen and told him that CIA Director, Gina Haspel was arrested in Germany as a result of a secret operation to seize and destroy an election-related computer server containing proof that “hundreds of thousands, maybe millions” of votes had been switched. Cohen was to initiate special operations to obtain the server, get Haspel out of custody and force her to confess to trying to destroy evidence of election fraud. Powell was part of Trump’s “elite strike force” of lawyers whose job it was to prove the election he lost was rigged against him. Powell’s story was a total lie.
Eastman wrote a memo outlining how Vice President Mike Pence could throw the election to the House of Representatives, where Republicans could install Trump as President. Vice President Mike Pence took the idea seriously as Republican leaders were stoking election lies, in order to lay a political pretext for Pence to invalidate the results. It took former Vice President Dan Quayle to talk Pence out of his role in the plot.
Trump had devised an explicit step-by-step strategy for assaulting democracy and gaining the reins of power.
Step 1 - Trump pressured state secretaries of state either to “find” fraudulent ballots or not to certify the election. In some states, spurred by Trump’s lies, pro-Trump mobs showed up at vote-counting sites and attempted to disrupt the proceedings.
Step 2 - Trump pressured state legislatures to overturn the results. He personally coerced some state legislators to overturn the election by ignoring the results of the popular vote. In Pennsylvania, for example, Trump publicly urged the legislature to intervene to declare him the winner. He tweeted, “Hopefully the Courts and/or Legislatures will have the COURAGE to do what has to be done to maintain the integrity of our Elections, and the United States of America itself.”
Step 3 - Trump pushed the courts to overturn the results. A majority of the Republican delegation in Congress, plus 20 Republican state attorneys general, petitioned the conservative-controlled Supreme Court to overturn the election results. In a meeting with the acting U.S. attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen, Trump said, “Just say that the election was corrupt [and] leave the rest to me.”
Step 4 - Trump pressured Pence to overturn the results in support of the coup. The plan was that Pence could refuse to certify the results in some states, giving Trump more electoral votes than Biden, and Pence would declare Trump the victor. When Democrats objected, the vote would go to the House. Because the Constitution gives one vote to each state in disputed presidential elections, and the Republicans were the majority in 26 of 50 state delegations, the Democratic House majority would be unable to prevent Republicans from throwing the election to Trump.
Step 5 - Trump enraged a mob with the intent to pressure Pence to change election results.
People were killed. Our democracy was threatened. Fortunately, the coup failed. Yet, we have a sitting president and vice president instigating a coup to keep themselves in power following an election they lost.
For 250 years, with the exception of the Civil War, our country has been free of this kind of treachery. We were able to withstand this assault this time. What lies ahead? These conspirators did all they could - and are continuing to do all they can - to destroy our way of government under the influence of a demagogue who smacks of self-serving and totalitarian tendencies.
Bill Gindlesperger is a central Pennsylvanian, Dickinson College graduate, Pennsylvania System Of Higher Education (PASSHE) Governor, Shippensburg University Trustee, and Chairman of eLynxx Solutions. eLynxx software coordinates and drives communication, specifying, approval, procurement or production, reporting and activities necessary to obtaining direct mail, marketing materials and all other printing. He is a board member, campaign advisor, successful entrepreneur, published author and commentator. He can be reached at Bill.Gindlesperger@eLynxx.com
This article originally appeared on Chambersburg Public Opinion: Donald Trump remains a threat: Gindlesperger