Trump admits his intention to overthrow government in a coup
Trump is essentially admitting that he orchestrated an attempt to illegally remain in power after he lost the 2020 election to Joe Biden. | AP

WASHINGTON—Seizing and impounding voting machines in key swing states. Strong-arming the Vice President to overturn the 2020 election by throwing out electoral votes. Sending false electoral vote certificates to Congress. Witness tampering. And now calling for nationwide repeats of Jan. 6 insurrections.

And on top of all of that Donald Trump declares that if he wins the Oval Office again in 2024 he’ll pardon the invaders and insurrectionists who smashed into the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

There appears to be no limit to the lengths Donald Trump would go to retain the presidency he lost in the November 2020 election.

News reports, evidence being submitted to the special House panel probing the white nationalist Trumpite insurrection to stop the electoral vote count, and even Trump’s own statements as recently as Jan. 31 all point to his constant and determined efforts to illegally stay in power.

All this adds up, one Yale law professor wrote in a Politico op-ed, to the “seditious treason” now being charged against leaders of the insurrection.

Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, both lawyers for President Donald Trump, during a news conference at Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington, DC, on November 19, 2020. Trump discussed with these lawyers his plans to have either Homeland Security or the Pentagon seize voting machines. | Jacquelyn Martin/AP

“Stop the steal!” Trump and his followers kept screaming. It turns out Trump’s the real thief. Or tried to be, but various officials, including—amazingly—some in his own government, got in the way. Mounting evidence of his attempted coup include:

  • The New York Times and Politico reported Trump twice demanded the Department of Homeland Security seize and impound voting machines from key swing states, to alter the tallies.

Both times, acting deputy Homeland Security Secretary Kenneth Cuccinelli, a former right-wing GOP Virginia Attorney General, said “no.” So did Trump’s AG, Bill Barr. News reports said that Trump demand was a key reason Barr quit in late December 2020.

  • Finding such non-existent fake votes is, of course, exactly what Trump pressured Georgia’s top elections official, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, to do, to give Trump the win there. Of all the things for which he can be prosecuted legal experts say this is the crime that almost surely will land him in jail.

The attempted Trump coup continues in Georgia. Its Trumpite Republicans have since stripped Raffensperger of his power over elections and are sponsoring a challenge to him in the 2022 primary. Their new elections law puts the GOP-gerrymandered legislature in ultimate control of who wins in 2024, i.e. to declare the state for Trump, and gives the state lawmakers power to override county elections boards in vote counting. It also gives GOP legislators the power to declare the state for Trump and send Trump electors to Washington even if the Democratic candidate wins, nullifying the choice of the people.

  • Trump’s speech declaring that if he runs again, and wins, in 2024, he’ll pardon the invaders. “We will treat those people from Jan. 6 fairly. And if it requires pardons, we will give them pardons,” he declared.

“Trump has suggested he would pardon Jan. 6 defendants, some of whom have been charged with seditious conspiracy,” committee Vice-Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyom., said in interviews and a tweet. “He has acknowledged he was trying to overturn the election. He is making clear he would do this all again if given the chance.”

Brad Raffensperger, in a one-hour phone call with Trump, refused to find the ex-president the more than 1,100 votes he wanted to be illegally added to his tally in Georgia so he could reverse Biden’s win in that state. | Brynn Anderson/AP

“This is an admission and a massively un-American statement. It is time for every Republican leader to pick a side…Trump or the Constitution, there is no middle on defending our nation anymore,” added another panel member, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill.

  • Trump schemed to have “alternate electors” submit fake electoral vote certifications from seven key states: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, New Mexico, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Democratic nominee Joe Biden won all of them. The House committee has subpoenaed the leaders of those fake delegations.

Trump demanded Vice President Mike Pence, confronted with the duplicate electoral vote certifications, either accept the false ones or throw the votes of those states out completely—depriving Biden of an electoral vote majority and throwing the election into the U.S. House. The House constitutionally would elect a president on a one-state, one-vote basis. The GOP controls a majority of state delegations and presumably would elect Trump. Pence refused Trump’s demand to throw out the key states’ votes.

Had Pence knuckled under to Trump, chaos would have ensued, just as happened the last time multiple states sent duplicate electoral vote certifications, in the infamous Hayes-Tilden contest of 1876.

“Mike Pence did have the right to change the outcome, and they now want to take that right away. Unfortunately, he didn’t exercise that power. He could have overturned the Election!” Trump said in a Jan. 31 statement, two days after his incendiary speech with the pardon plan.

“The Select Committee is seeking information about attempts in multiple states to overturn the results of the 2020 election, including the planning and coordination of efforts to send false slates of electors” for the vote count, said Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss. “We believe the individuals have information about how these so-called alternate electors met and who was behind that scheme.”

  • Even now, Trump is engaging in witness tampering. He’s trying to run out the clock on the House panel’s probe by ordering witnesses to stonewall and counting on a GOP takeover there this November. A takeover would shut the committee down next Jan. 3, in the new Congress.

“When a mob is chanting ‘Hang Mike Pence,’ it wasn’t enough,” committee member Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., told CNN. “When the former president asked Brad Raffensperger to find him 11,000 votes”—the actual number Trump sought was 11,780, to gain a one-vote win in Georgia—”it wasn’t enough. Now, he’s dangling pardons, if he gets back in office, for individuals. Will that be enough? Or will there be more collective amnesia?” about Trump among almost all congressional Republicans, he asked.

Campaign finance reports filed Jan. 31, covering the last half of last year, show Trump’s campaign finance committee or PAC, gave $1 million to the non-profit organization now headed by Mark Meadows, Trump’s last chief of staff. The donation, also reported by CNN, came four weeks after the House established the select committee, on a party-line vote. Meadows at first cooperated with the panel, then flipped. It’s now subpoenaed him and sent that summons to the Justice Department for enforcement.


Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but tough when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.