“Blood-Chilling” or Just A Tweet? Debunking The Coup d’Trump

Below is my column in the Hill newspaper on the continued speculation over President Donald Trump delaying or cancelling the 2020 election. This conspiracy theory first appeared shortly after Trump’s election and became the rage when Vice President Joe Biden predicted that Trump would try to halt the election (and try to steal the election through the Postal Service). Despite the overheated coverage, Trump did not try to delay the election. He cannot delay the election. He asked a question of whether it should be delayed, which Congress can legally do. However, as I said immediately after the tweet, it is a question that is politically absurd and legally unfounded. However, the only thing more ridiculous was the response to this eleven-word question. It is all part of the panic disorder that seems triggered by Trump tweets on a daily basis.

Here is the column:

This week, American democracy either died or it didn’t, but you couldn’t tell from the news coverage. Some commentators and members of Congress warned that we are looking at “nothing less than a coup.” Others called for organized protests, proclaiming it is now clear that President Trump’s “anti-democratic intent was blood-chillingly real.” One leading academic called for Trump’s immediate impeachment as a fascist out to destroy our constitutional system.

We have not seen such rhetoric since Aaron Burr tried to peel off the entire southwestern territory of the United States. The cause this time was an 11-word Twitter question from President Trump. Returning to his favorite subject of denouncing mail-in voting as a disaster in the making, he ended his July 30 tweet by asking, “Delay the election until people can properly, securely and safely vote?”

As I said at the time, the tweet was reckless and repugnant. However, cries of some Twitter-based coup d’état were equally unconnected to reality. I have written repeatedly about this conspiracy theory that Trump will never allow an election to occur in 2020, which has raged on liberal websites and cable news since soon after his inauguration.

Trump does not have the authority to delay the election. Even if he could persuade Congress to change the date, with the implausible assistance of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Constitution still stipulates that his term ends at noon on Jan. 20. In the interim, not only do citizens have to vote, but electors have to cast ballots in the Electoral College, and those votes must be certified and counted by Congress.

It is not much of a coup when you do not extend your time in office. It does not matter what Trump would like; it is what the Constitution will allow. A demand to delay the election has the same impact as Trump declaring he will change his name to “Joe Biden” if needed to claim victory, or that he will adopt Neptune’s calendar to extend his four-year term to 660 years.

That is why this conspiracy theory has been so maddening. Indeed, in a column in April, I criticized former Vice President Joe Biden when he took up the theory, triggering another round of panic; Biden added a second theory to this baseless fear, suggesting that Trump’s opposition to funding the U.S. Postal Service was part of a plan to steal the election. (I later wrote an equally caustic criticism of Jared Kushner when he equivocated about Election Day.)

While I portrayed Biden back then as a virtual nut for raising this conspiracy theory, many now have proclaimed him a virtual Nostradamus following Trump’s tweet. Biden was not right — any more than Trump is today. It is no surprise — and no sign of a conspiracy — that Trump might suggest something outrageous, such as a delayed election, on Twitter. Such behavior is an established fact that occupies many of us on a daily basis. The “conspiracy theory” is to suggest that Trump could actually halt or delay the election.

In fairness to Trump, he has not stated that he can unilaterally delay the election but rather has asked if we should do so. Later, he denied actually wanting a delay. Still, the tweet still showed terrible judgment and rekindled this conspiracy theory on the internet.

Normally sensible people seemed to take leave of their constitutional senses. Northwestern University professor Steven Calabresi wrote a column for The New York Times calling for Trump’s immediate impeachment over his question. Calabresi said this “latest tweet is fascistic and is itself grounds for the president’s immediate impeachment again by the House of Representatives and his removal from office by the Senate.”

Having testified at the Clinton and Trump impeachments, I have no delusions about how impeachment often is a magnet for claims of high crimes and misdemeanors. Indeed, in the last few years, various experts and members of Congress have demanded impeachment for everything from Trump’s tweets to his criticism of the football player “kneelers.”

Yet Calabresi is not some internet loon; he is a respected academic who is suggesting that asking if an election should be delayed due to a pandemic is grounds for removal. Keep in mind that it is legal for Congress to delay the election, so Trump was suggesting something that can be done constitutionally. It would be practically illogical and politically impossible, but it would be legal. So is a president to be considered removable for suggesting legal if illogical measures? Imagine that as a standard in history. I would sooner impeach him for using three successive question marks in his question.

As is so often the case, Trump’s loose rhetoric overshadowed what might have been a lucid point. Trump objected that a shift to mail-in voting will cause delays and challenges after Election Day. I have covered presidential elections as a legal analyst for several decades; each election has had challenges, including the lingering controversy over the 2000 Bush-Gore contest ultimately resolved by the Supreme Court. While we have long used absentee balloting, we have not used mail-in voting on such a massive scale. It will, inevitably, add a new layer of problems and potential challenges. Trump also is right that it will likely delay the final counting of votes.

There is every reason to be worried. We have a relatively short window for challenges and recounts before the Electoral College meets on Dec. 14 to certify the results. While that date also could be changed, it would soon collide with another statutory date — Jan. 6 — when Congress must meet to certify the results. There is a real possibility for floor fights on the certification of the votes from given states and the possible failure to certify some states caught up in litigation. It is even possible that such challenges could continue to Jan. 20. What is not in doubt, however, is Trump continuing in office: On that day, he is no longer president unless he is reelected.

Indeed, for Trump, the only thing more nightmarish than losing would be if no duly elected president can be determined. Pelosi could theoretically become the acting president as the next in succession. One would think that would be enough incentive for the Trump administration to be sure that the Postal Service is fully prepared for Election Day. That is why we need to put this conspiracy theory to bed. Trump cannot unilaterally delay the election. Our real concern should be what will happen when the election is held on Nov. 3.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University. You can find his updates online @JonathanTurley.

307 thoughts on ““Blood-Chilling” or Just A Tweet? Debunking The Coup d’Trump”

  1. Turley is just like the goat who he defends. Both cannot back away from a position even if they have egg on their face. Look out for the next 10 blogs on the same topic.

  2. The idea that Trump was doing anything but trolling the media is absurd. He threw out some red meat–or, if you prefer, played with a redllaser light–and soooo predictably the left went hysterical. It was too, too easy. At the very least, a review of Trump’s policies and actions in office make it very clear that he (unlike Obama) follows the law.

    1. “a review of Trump’s policies and actions in office make it very clear that he (unlike Obama) follows the law.”

      That’s false.
      He hasn’t followed the law on all sorts of things, which is why he’s lost multiple court cases.
      He illegally lied on his 2017 financial disclosure form, omitting his debt to Michael Cohen and then certifying the the form was correct and complete.
      He likely lied under penalty of perjury in his written answers to Mueller (as indicated by Mueller’s testimony under oath to Congress), and Trump simply refused to answer several of them. His lawyers refused to allow him to be questioned in person, recognized that he was likely to lie.
      He’s repeatedly violated the Vacancies Reform Act.
      A majority of Senators stated that he had engaged in illegal quid pro quo with the Ukraine call, but some of them chose not to vote for his removal.
      … (That’s not even a complete list.)

      1. “That’s false.
        He hasn’t followed the law on all sorts of things, which is why he’s lost multiple court cases.”

        Which means Trump followed the law. There was a question of law. Trump took it to court. When he won he continued to do what he wanted and when he lost he stopped. That is the law despite what CTHD thinks.

        Did Clinton follow the law when she bleached her hard drive? No. It didn’t go to court even though it was illegal.

        Did Obama follow the law? Difficult to assess as he was President but he did loads of things and encouraged loads of misdeeds while in office.

        Stop making up things. Differences of opinions does not constitute law breaking.

      2. Obama not only did not follow the law, he, as a barbarian of foreign allegiance, deliberately, cavalierly and wantonly violated law and fundamental law.

        The Founders incorporated the “natural born citizen” presidential requirement because they foresaw the deleterious effects of candidates with foreign allegiances, such as Obama. Obama will never be eligible. Obama’s very candidacy violated the Constitution and past practices. Obama knows that every previous president had two parents who were citizens at the time of the candidate’s birth, and a father who was a citizen at the time of the candidate’s birth, as defined in the Law of Nations, which “…has been continually in the hands of the members of our Congress, now sitting,….”

        Obamacare is irrefutably unconstitutional.

        Weaponizing the IRS was an impeachable crime of high office.

        Benghazi was treason as gross dereliction and negligence resulting in the death of a Presidential level envoy and three other Americans.

        Obama’s most prodigious crime, the Obama Coup D’etat in America, is currently under investigation by John Durham.

        Obama IS a crime.

  3. Trump and Turley know their rubes, and they will sell a bridge going to Hawaii, to keep the focus off Trump’s incompetence and failures.

  4. How does Trump secure the USPS for mail in voting? Is it even possible? Remember CA boxes of votes found days after voting ended, that overturned 7 Republicans who had won on election day? No foul play found there. Following on the heels of an institutional coup against POTUS from the beginning of his nomination, what credibility do the institutions of gov have any longer, especially the one’s which sanction votes?

  5. Here’s Joe Biden’s short list VP hopeful Susan Rice….Susan knows all the curse words

    Susan’s approach……Target & vilify & get voters angry.

    1. This guy if he’s elected will be retired soon due to the 25th amendment. then the VP choice will matter. My Democratic party friends, beware. Your vote for Biden, will be a vote for whomever he selects as VP. So are you ready for Kamala or Susan Rice as POTUS? Because that’s what your vote will say.

      Because, understand, Joe obviously is in cognitive decline.

      1. The democrats could not generate a candidate.

        Joe Biden is a RUSE, understanding that the vote in 2020 is not for a candidate but for the communist party.

        The actual candidate for president, Joe Biden’s “choice” for vice president, is being determined by the “party” as we write and will most likely be one of the following, good “party” comrades one and all:

        – President Karen Bass

        – President Susan Rice

        – President Kamala Harris

        After the 25th Amendment is invoked, the new “president” will be retitled, General Secretary, by the “party.”

        Kamala Harris, actually ineligible not being a “naturall born citizen,” is favored as the most experienced communist having won in an election between two democrats and no republicans in the one-party communist state of California.

        1. Do not be surprised if the party…er…Biden selects Michelle Obama as his choice for President, um, I mean Vice President.

          1. Any black female communist will do.
            ____________________________

            “It’s the party, stupid.”

            – James Carville

        2. Bass will not get the nod. She is a Castro fangirl, and the Cubans will veto the Democrats from winning florida if they put her on the ballot.

          It’s down to Susan Rice or Kamala. The billionaire money is heavier on Kamala’s side so I predict she gets it.

          Remember when I pointed out her signficant billionaire backing early in the primary and predicted that she would win the primary?

          Well i was wrong about that but if she ends up in the VP, and somehow then ends up president by hook or by crook, then remember Democrats, I told you who really runs your party, whether you are too dense to understand it or not.

          1. Mr. Kurtz,

            If Kamala Harris is a “natural born citizen,” WHO is NOT?

            Why is the requirement that the president be a “natural born citizen” in the Constitution?

            Has there been anyone with more cognition, wisdom and acumen regarding the philosophy of the human condition and self-governance – regarding freedom – than the American Founders.

            Who will say they were wrong?

            A candidate for the office of the president must be a “natural born citizen.”

      2. Mr Kurtz – the handlers have now told Creepy Joe that he has to cast a wider net to look for a VP. Each one he has selected has several fatal flaws.

        1. There’s one whose flaws are primarily an absence of experience with campaigning, and the press will cover for that these days. That’s Lisa Jackson. Smart, accomplished, and has executive experience. If she’s not on the short list, it’s because she doesn’t want it or because the Democratic elite only looks for trash.

    2. OBAMA ORDERS RICE TO LIE

      “Emails Show Susan Rice Prepped To Lie By White House – 06:31 PM ET 04/29/2014”

      “Scandal: Newly obtained emails on Benghazi show then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice was coached by a key White House aide to lie and ignore the facts known and reported on the ground to make the administration look good. The fish rots from the head (i.e. Obama), as the saying goes, and no further proof is needed than a Sept. 14, 2012, email from Ben Rhodes, an assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, contained in more than 100 pages of documents released by Judicial Watch and obtained in a Freedom of Information Act request. That email, with the subject line: “RE: PREP Call with Susan: Saturday at 4:00 p.m. ET,” was sent to other key White House staffers such as then-Communications Director David Plouffe and Press Secretary Jay Carney the day before now-National Security Adviser Susan Rice made her whirlwind tour on five Sunday news show appearances to specifically and emphatically blame an Internet video for the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, in which U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other nationals were killed.
      One of the goals listed in the emails was the need for Rice “to underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure or policy.” She was also to “reinforce the President and Administration’s strength and steadiness in dealing with difficult challenges.” Her job was not to tell the truth, but to put lipstick on the Obama administration’s Benghazi pig.
      The documents include a Sept. 12, 2012, email from Payton Knopf, a former deputy spokesman at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, in which Knopf informs Rice that senior officials had already dubbed the Benghazi attack “complex” and planned in advance. Yet Rice would still insist on her TV tour that the Benghazi terrorist attacks were “spontaneous.” In early April, former deputy CIA director Michael Morell, who was heavily involved in editing the now infamous talking points, told lawmakers it was Rice, on the Sunday shows, who linked the video to the Benghazi attack and that the video was not part of the CIA analysis.”

      – Investor’s Business Daily

  6. A montage of Biden (start 30 seconds) that makes it clear there is no need for testing his mental faculties. Too many are lost and gone forever.

    1. that’s pretty funny. hey, think about this. The POTUS is an important party leader in our system, for everything, not just executive but legislative work too.

      With a demented an incompetent leader, will the damage the Democrats can do to our great nation be limited? By his ineffective leadership?
      or if he has “handlers” who will make the decisions, the question is who are they?? are they the “true” candidates?

      1. Kurtz, I’m not sure of what you are trying to say.

        The truth is the faces of the Democrat party today are fascists with little regard for American citizens except for what those citizens can do for them. They do not represent the Democrats that formerly were in charge. This is a new breed that needs to be stopped. Some of them belong in jail.

    1. Olesmithy, this pandemic is costing the U.S. the equivalent of a major war. Is this really the time for a mentally unhinged president to be ‘playing with the media’??

      1. Well, let’s see, is it the time for the media to induce panic, to promote rioting, to promote communism and to continually lie to citizenship? The answer is yes. It’s also time for your mental health check up you tin foil loon.

      2. Well, duh!!!

        This is a war which China started in alliance with communists (liberals, progressives, socialists, democrats, RINOs) in America as a last resort to staunch the inexorable juggernaut, which was the Trump Re-election Campaign on its way to an historic landslide victory in November.

        Viruses don’t egress from a fail-safe virology lab with multiple redundant security systems.

        Dr. Yan, “Coronavirus from the PLA lab, not from nature.”

        The “wet market” source was prevarication and a ruse.
        ___________________________________________

        Dr. Phd. Li Meng Yan said this week on Newsmax’s War Room, that the “China Flu” is not from nature. Dr. Yan works in the world’s premier virology lab at Hong Kong University with the best virology research team in the world. Dr. Yan and her team said that the “China Flu” came from the People’s Liberation Army’s lab. Dr. Yan also stated that the WHO was complicit. Dr. Yan was speaking at a conference in Washington D.C which included Sen. Ted Cruz.

        The world has the evidence of China and the WHO’s culpability in the malicious, criminal release of “China Flu,” COVID-19, the coronavirus, with disastrous global effects. It is long past time to put the evidence in the International Court of Justice, or any other court in the world, simply to obtain a judgement on the truth which the world must be provided.

        1. Hey George, funny how the media never picks up the news which the CCP disapproves, isnt it?

          Well here’s what Chinese dissident Miles Guo has to say about her:

          ““First of all, Dr. Li-Meng Yan was the only legal representative of the WHO in the P3 lab of Hong Kong University communicating with the high ranking CCP cadres. She kept a detailed record of all the communications between the WHO, P3 lab, clinicians in Wuhan hospitals and the CDC led by the CCP in mainland China, making herself a crucial witness.

          She is an expert in both clinical medicine and virology, having a MD-PhD joint degree. Her husband is the top virologist in Asia, having a long-term cooperation with Dr. Malik Peiris, his then supervisor, as well as THE TOP expert on coronavirus worldwide. By the way, Dr. Malik Peiris is a realy bad apple who covered up the human-to-human transmission of COVID-19 within the WHO in early January 2020.

          The reason that Dr. Li-Meng Yan is a real threat to the CCP, is that she is one of the three most important figures at the P3 lab and had access to the truth about the COVID-19 virus. I don’t know who would be more qualified to reveal the truth.

          Secondly, for the first time, Dr. Li-Meng Yan said that this coronavirus bears many features from multiple sources of viruses, and could hardly be of natural origin. She asserts that it only takes 6 months to construct such a coronavirus comprised of the multiple features that were discovered.

          Interestingly, with Dr. Li-Meng Yan fleeing Hong Kong, Dr. Malik Peiris resigned from his position in the P3 lab and kowtowed back to Beijing before he returned to Sri-Lanka. One really wonders why an authority on the coronavirus is in such a panic to leave such a top position.

          What’s more, Dr. Li-Meng Yan’s husband kept threatening her to keep silent, or she might be killed.Besides that, he wrote a letter to the United States claiming that Dr. Li-Meng Yan had psychiatric problems – unbelievable!

          Why are these guys are so concerned?

          Thirdly, Dr. Li-Meng Yan comes from mainland China, and had a natural relationship with her clinician colleagues in Wuhan, the ground zero of the COVID-19 pandemic of early December 2019. What she obtained from her colleagues in Wuhan was first-hand information, clinically and epidemiologically, regarding this plague. Because of this, she was barred from speaking. On top of that, however, she revealed that the contents of Dr. Malik’s computer will terrify the whole world. “Every day, these guys think of ways to exterminate human beings”, says Dr. Li-Meng Yan.

          Last, but not least, whoever would take on such a risk to her family, her profession, even her life if she were not telling the truth? She had a promising future of being the granted the title by the CCP as “Dr. Savior”?

          Also, to any hostile doubter, please ask yourself, if your brothers or sisters lose their jobs, if your kids are locked at home without access to school, if your older relatives are in a dire condition, because of COVID-19, who the heck will tell you the truth about this invisible enemy? The only insider that can inform the world about the CCP virus will be Dr. Li-Meng Yan. I would say, because of Dr. Li-Meng Yan, the world will initiate a joint campaign against the CCP, because of COVID-19.

          For the first time, the world is starting to act on taking down the evil regime of the CCP. This is directly due to the truth exposed by Dr. Li-Meng Yan. Her brave deeds call on the people, regardless of race, religion, or political affiliation, to fight against the CCP, because of its known responsibility for the pandemic.

          Dr. Li-Meng Yan, as a heroine of humanity, with Chinese ethnicity, would save the world, guided by the Will of God. Like so many everyday people involved in this heroic endeavor, she deserves the utmost respect. Her courage and humbleness shall be remembered.

          The Li-Meng Yan of the past, that I knew at the time of speaking to her, was dead the moment she stood in front of the camera.

          From now on, she will forget about the tears of her parents and the threats from her husband. She is solely devoting herself to unveiling of the truth, to find a solution, and bring the murderers to justice. So help her, God.”

          ——— Miles Guo”

          1. The media never picks up on the Obama Coup D’etat in America which can be described in exponentially greater detail, it’s Watergate on steroids.

            The media hasn’t covered the fact that the democrats want vote-by-mail in order to cause the election to be over before the campaigns begin and the debates take place.

            A change of the time, place and manner of an election may only be altered by Congress.

            Election 2020 has been altered by the democrats.

            Election 2020 is illegitimate and has been corrupted by the democrats.

            Looks like the media’s bias is showing.

            It’s no holds barred a la Lincoln.

            Given the “executive overreach” from Lincoln to Obama, President Trump has moral and precedent authority, and President Trump has got to grab the bull by the horns for the sake of the American Republic.
            _______

            American rights, freedoms, privileges, immunities and private property are just about all gone – it started 12 years after Marx was published under that eliminator of classes in society and confiscator of private property, “Crazy Abe” Lincoln (crazy because he had no faith that American freedom and free and open markets would ultimately engender in the proper resolution).
            _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

            “The theory of Communism may be summed up in the single sentence: the abolition of private property.”

            Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto, 1848

  7. First of all, Biden predicted that Trump might try to delay the election, and Trump did suggest this. Because he was shot down by both parties, he didn’t keep pushing, so why bring it up at all? Because he wanted to try to get the disciples to push this agenda, thinking that somehow time might be on his side, plus his fear of being forced to leave the White House, so you are wrong, Turley: Trump is trying to delay the election but he failed because he couldn’t get enough Republicans to agree. He thinks that if a vaccine is developed, voters will forget all about his absolute lack of leadership,, his lying, and his politicization of the pandemic. Did Fox tell you Trumpsters that early on, say March-April, little Jared came up with the idea that because, at that time, most of the infections were in “blue states”, like New York and California, plus their belief that warm weather would slow down transmission, the federal government shouldn’t do anything to help out, thinking that it would make Democratic governors like Newsome and Cuomo look bad? Whoops. Now it’s Florida and Texas setting new daily records.

    Secondly, Turley, you left out a big chunk of the story about another way Trump will try to delay the election and help Republicans. He recently appointed a large donor as Postmaster General. That person immediately ordered no more overtime for the USPS, and that branch post offices are no longer required to take any incoming mail to the main sorting office before they leave for the day if it involves overtime, so mail will sit overnight at branches. All of this is to delay the mails, and it is for 2 reasons: 1. to set the stage to fully privatize the USPS (they already have contractors licking their chops) and 2. to delay mail-in ballots, hoping this could create uncertainty and help Trump. Plus, with the mail delayed, that will help shoot down pushes to increase future mail-in voting, which Republicans think helps them. They are trying to create chaos on purpose for political reasons. Trump is already working hard every day with his tweets to set the stage for the disciples to doubt the outcome of the election, pushing the notion that mail-in ballots will be rigged. THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO PROOF OF WIDESPREAD FRAUD WITH MAIL-IN BALLOTS, WHICH TRUMP AND PENCE BOTH USE. What you are seeing is the melt-down of a pathetic narcissist who cannot stand to lose.

  8. Turley’s Most Mealy-Mouthed Column Yet

    The screaming lady pictured is reacting to Professor Turley!

    Again and again, in this column, Turley admits Donald Trump has engaged in “loose rhetoric” for suggesting the election be delayed. Yet Turley isn’t condemning Trump. Nor is Turley calling on Trump to ensure that the Post Office can handle millions of mailed-in ballots.

    Instead Turley chides Democrats and the media for ‘floating conspiracy theories’. As though it’s perfectly normal for presidents to hint at delaying an election they will almost certainly lose. There is nothing normal about this. This is like Mike Tyson biting Evander Holyfield’s ear!

    Two days after Trump made this suggestion, he was leading a pandemic briefing and suffered a meltdown at the podium. Trump literally sniveled bemoaning the fact that Dr. Fauci enjoys much greater approval ratings. It was absolutely pathetic! Oddly the media shrugged-off this display as another narcissism-runs-wild moment.

    But when a president indulges in self pity at the podium because a scientist is better liked than him, said president’s mental state is dangerously fragile. It has long been said that empires are most dangerous when they are about to fall. The same can be said for authoritarian rulers: ‘they are most dangerous when facing eviction’.

    Therefore with this column, Johnathan Turley essentially declares himself a Deadender for Donald Trump. Turley is saying, in effect, that Trump’s insanity is no reason for concern. We, the American people, should have faith that Donald Trump will respect the election results when Trump keeps hinting at precisely the opposite.

    1. Wait. What do you know about mealy-mouthed duplicity and prevarication, Mr. Shill?

      Joke Buydem is going to win, only to turn the presidency over to a trusted comrade.

      Life is good.

      Why are you posting lies and propaganda so frequently, so voluminously and so ferociously?

      What is the basis for your fear?

      Go enjoy yourself. Lie on the beach. Sip a Mai Tai. Watch the bikinis.

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