I’m staring at the headline of this post and I’m thinking: We have to be in a simulation, right?
Even Trump-era reality isn’t this bizarre.
Anyway, it says “sort of” in the hed because the evidence is a photo of a partially obscured page of notes. But if you enlarge the first photo below, you’ll get a sense of the document.
— Jabin Botsford (@jabinbotsford) January 15, 2021
The title reads “[obscured] TAKEN IMMEDIATELY TO SAVE THE [obscured part] THE CONSTITUTION.” I’m going to guess it’s something like “EMERGENCY EXECUTIVE ACTIONS TO BE TAKEN IMMEDIATELY TO SAVE THE UNITED STATES AND THE CONSTITUTION.”
One bit reads “Insurrection Act now as a result of the assault on the” — and it cuts off there, although presumably goes on to say “Capitol.” An attack by the president’s own fans would be used as a pretext to insert active-duty troops into Washington days before his opponent is set to be inaugurated. (Lindell has blamed Antifa for the attack.)
It goes on to say “martial law if necessary upon the first hint of any” — and cuts off. Any hint of violence, maybe? Not a great development that a president who’s openly sought ways to block Biden’s victory is being pitched on martial law.
Further down it says “Kash Patel to CIA Acting.” Patel is a Trump loyalist who was recently installed at the Pentagon after Trump’s post-election purge of Mark Esper and other civilian officials. Sounds like Lindell’s imagining Trump dumping Gina Haspel with just days left in his term and placing a well-known crony at the head of the CIA, which is exactly the sort of thing you’d do if you were trying to consolidate government power in a putsch.
And there’s something later on that says “Make clear this is China/Iran,” which I’d guess means blaming the election “steal” on those countries. That’s also the sort of thing you’d do in a coup, find a foreign scapegoat and declare a national emergency that requires the president to remain in power for the time being.
It has all the makings of a bona fide, old-school, it-can’t-happen-here power grab, the stuff of nightmares. And it’s being orchestrated by … an infomercial salesman. Who, on his way into the Oval Office to meet with the president of the United States, inadvertently made his notes visible to photographers.
The MyPillow coup is the perfect ending to Trump’s presidency in that it’s deeply sinister and completely absurd all at once. It’s of a piece with everything that’s happened since Election Day. You worry, then you feel embarrassed for worrying, then you remember that he could be capable of anything. Could the president conspire with a guy who sells pillows for a living to end the United States as we know it? No! Well … maybe. I mean, no, of course not! But it would be destabilizing if they even tried, and they could try…
MyPillow guy's recent schedule:
1/5: Share 8kun document openly calling for war (@oneunderscore__ )
1/6: Run ads during Trump rally that morphed into deadly insurrection
— John Kruzel (@johnkruzel) January 15, 2021
Such are the conversations that Making America Great Again requires one to have with oneself.
The best reason not to worry about “the MyPillow coup” is that even Trump’s own appointees sound so exhausted by him now that they can’t wait to get the hell out. Here’s the acting secretary of defense sounding ready to go on vacation and never come back:
Miller was asked about the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), a fifth-generation fighter jet considered the most expensive weapons program in history used by the Air Force, Marines and Navy. After clarifying that the question is about the F-35 and not a different weapons system, Miller begins his answer by saying, “I so…I mean, I cannot wait to leave this job, believe me.”…
When asked what he wanted to see from Northern Command next week, Miller gave a meandering response that comes across as incoherent at times. “Uh, I needed to look the commander in the eye, because, you know, the President, SecDef, me … I, whatever the correct English is, you guys can clean that up. Should have paid more attention in high school. My wife would be ashamed of me not knowing the proper preposition—and then, uh General VanHerck. So, you know, you just, I said it before, you can have all day long, you know, but you wanna, like, I wanted to look the guy in the eye and get a sense for his soul and I think he probably needed to do that for me as well,” Miller said.
Maybe he’s semi-coherent because he’s trapped in a vortex of insurrectionist insanity and is as eager as everyone outside the MAGA base for it to end. Faced with a choice to abet an unprecedented military coup attempt by a sitting president or to just stop taking Trump’s calls and go to the beach on Wednesday, what do you think Miller’s more inclined to do at this point? Like, what’s your reward as a cabinet member for joining a coup attempt? Getting to deal with the president’s exhausting autocracy every hour for the next four (or more) years?
My guess is there are no bigger Joe Biden fans in America right now than the Trump cabinet, or what’s left of it.
By the way, Giuliani’s probably in on this too because of course he is. This was tweeted this morning, long before Lindell’s meeting with Trump. Note the reference to “Kash”:
Giuliani tweeted out someone’s phone number from texts and a reference to “Kash” pic.twitter.com/aaqumQ1aGQ
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) January 15, 2021
Cabinet members should probably just stop taking Trump’s calls at this point, to be safe. Just let the phone ring. For the president’s deputies to start ignoring him is a coup in its own right, but (a) we may have already reached that point and (b) if the cabinet is now forced to choose between Coup 1, a Trump dictatorship, and Coup 2, a few days of Mike Pence unlawfully exercising power as we ease on into the duly-elected administration, that’s an easy choice. Again, Making America Great Again sometimes forces such moral compromises.
In fairness to Trump, there’s no evidence that he’s going to entertain Lindell’s proposal. There have been moving vans outside the White House this week. He may be as done with this as anyone at this point. But having Lindell pitch him on one last-ditch attempt to overturn the election is worrisome anyway, not because the cabinet’s about to install Trump as Mussolini but because it might steer Trump away from his “no violence!” message of the last few days. It’s perfectly within his capacity to dial up Fox News tonight, go live on the air, repeat the particulars of the Lindell document, and tell his fans, “You have to stop this inauguration!” A coup is too complicated for him to pull off but incitement is right in his wheelhouse.
In fact, Lindell’s carelessness with his notes today is already inciting QAnoners:
Some QAnon influencers have begun praising Mike Lindell's memo that appeared to call for Trump invoking martial law/using the military — something QAnon supporters had been calling/hoping for. https://t.co/7JaHInJRgX https://t.co/RF7BX2hXHl pic.twitter.com/yJS5z8PBTl
— Alex Kaplan (@AlKapDC) January 15, 2021
Just in case the president *does* try the Lindell plan in his desperation to stop Biden’s inauguration, if I were Mike Pence or Nancy Pelosi or Mitch McConnell I’d be ready to move very quickly on removal in the event of any surprising news. If Gina Haspel or Miller gets fired tonight, that’s go time for the 25th Amendment. McConnell should convene the Senate immediately, even if it’s the dead of night, and have Pelosi deliver the articles of impeachment so that the trial can start.
By the way, Lindell told reporters afterward that he was simply “delivering recommendations from an attorney.” It’s not his work product, it’s someone else’s. Might that someone’s name perchance rhyme with “Pidney Sowell” or “Win Lood”? Presumably Rudy has more direct ways to get his battle plans in front of the president. I’ll leave you with this:
After meeting with Trump, Lindell said he was ushered upstairs to share details of election fraud with White House lawyers…
The lawyers said they had looked into the claims, Lindell said, and described them as “very dismissive.”
He added, “They have their own agenda.”
Update: For what it’s worth: “White House press aides were caught off guard by the photos as they circulated on Twitter, and said they had no idea what had transpired.” Do the president’s aides not know that he’s still consulting with “stop the steal” advocates?