“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.

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

  1. More Crazy Statements:


    President Trump suggested in an interview aired Monday that multimillionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein might have been killed while in federal custody — putting him at odds with his own attorney general and the New York City medical examiner, who have both said Epstein died of suicide.

    In an interview with Axios on HBO, reporter Jonathan Swan asked Trump why he had recently offered well wishes to Ghislaine Maxwell, a former girlfriend of Epstein who was charged by federal prosecutors with recruiting and grooming underage girls for Epstein to abuse.

    “Her friend or boyfriend was either killed or committed suicide in jail,” Trump responded. “She’s now in jail. Yeah, I wish her well. I’d wish you well. I’d wish a lot of people well. Good luck. Let them prove somebody was guilty.”

    “So you’re saying you hope she doesn’t die in jail?” Swan sought to clarify. “Is that what you mean by ‘wish her well’?”

    “Her boyfriend died in jail. And people are still trying to figure out how did it happen,” Trump said. “Was it suicide? Was he killed? And I do wish her well. I’m not looking for anything bad for her.”

    Before President Trump wished Ghislaine Maxwell ‘well,’ they had mingled for years in the same gilded circles

    Epstein, who was taken into custody in July 2019 on charges that he sexually abused young girls, was found unresponsive and hanging in his cell the following month, and the New York City Medical Examiner concluded that he had died of suicide by hanging. But the circumstances of his death, coupled with his wealth and connections to powerful people, have long fueled conspiracy theories about the case.

    Edited From: “Trump Questions Whether Jeffrey Epstein Was Killed In Federal Custody”

    Today’s Washington Post

    The article goes on to say that the Manhattan Medical Examiner ruled Epstein’s death a suicide by hanging. U S Attorney General William Barr concurred that Epstein’s death was most likely a suicide. The Federal lock-up where Epstein was held is under the jurisdiction of Barr’s Justice Department. One has to wonder what message Trump is trying to convey to Ghislaine Maxwell. Is he hinting ‘she’ should kill herself?

  2. JT “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.”

    We will not know the outcome the day after the election.

    1. We will know that the democrats have cheated and that the election of Biden is invalid and illegitimate.

      An election must have a time, place and manner, which only Congress may alter.

      Now is not the time of the election, yet ballots have already gone out.

      An unmonitored and uncontrolled mail box is not a p l a c e.

      The U.S. Mail is not a manner of voting.

      The U.S. Postal Service is not the U.S. Election Agency.

      Voters must present themselves at a polling place, be identified and authenticated.

      Vote-by-mail might be done with fingerprints on the envelope.

  3. Oh, Trump was just asking a question this time? Other times, we are told he was just joking. These are all trial balloons. If the right people react positively to the trial balloon, he does the thing. If the reaction is negative, well, he just asking the question/joking, don’t you get his sense of humor?

    And yes, because if the reaction is positive he does the thing people who oppose the thing are not being ridiculous for reacting to it.

    1. “If the right people react positively to the trial balloon, he does the thing.”

      No, in this case it would be Congress that would “do the thing.” That “thing” being Congress using it’s Constitutional power. You are a loon.

  4. Prof Turley,
    Surely you are joking! At what point will you stop being a Trump apologist? Once he is removed and sanity returns you will live with the stain of being his water boy with the likes of “fat bully” Billy Barr (his reputation precedes him where ever he goes). You are using this terrible moment in American history to ingratiate yourself to our retarded El Duce. You are at best a more presentable version of your best known prodigy….Mr Avenatti. Your star student who’s psychopathy, brutality, greed, avarice and opportunism must make you proud. I can’t believe you created your own website. what a joke. You are perfect for Fox “news”,
    most sincerely,

    1. When someone cannot reasonably argue a case he/she starts name calling and making derogatory remarks. Unlike Prof. Turley you seem incapable of analyzing an issue.

  5. I said before that I did not believe the state had a clear path to conviction of any of the officers in the Floyd case. I won’t re-argue it here, but here is a very good post on new information that is discussed in the powerline blog. There are multiple causes of death for Floyd and it is not likely the conduct of the officers’ can shown to be one of the many available causes beyond a reasonable doubt. I wonder what will be left to destroy in the ruins of the cities when the officers are acquitted?


    1. Young – we are still waiting on Chauvin’s body cam to be released. From the video today the charging document undersold how uncooperative Floyd was. Personally, I think Floyd had a cardiac event or maybe 2 and stroked out. There is no way the cops would know how to handle that. They were sure he was reacting to fentynal and were treating him for that as they waited for the ambulance.

      1. Paul– I think you are right. You suspected something like that some while back and the evidence dribbling in supports you near as I can tell.

    2. “I said before that I did not believe the state had a clear path to conviction of any of the officers in the Floyd case.”

      Young, your vision was correct. The optics of what we initially saw were terrible and I changed my position slowly as the initial picture began to fade from memory.

      This happened to me before when I was on jury duty. I thought the defense council an idiot for choosing me and after the trial he explained why he specifically chose me. My initial thoughts in a joking fashion were the inner city defendent should get the death penalty or at least life in prison so I should have been a lousy juror for the defense. The defense knew where I stood when he chose me. After the video was shown of the incident with the “thief” on tape, stealing, the “thief” testified. That put all the pieces together and I laughed for a split second noticeable enough to the defense attorney who later asked me about the laugh.

      From that point on I was the most vehement of a split jury in favor of the “thief’s” innocence. I was also angry and afterwards went to the judge complaining that this defendent should never have been prosecuted in the first place. There was a stupid reason for the prosecution and the judge told me he would not have accepted a guilty verdict. None the less this 6 man jury was split 3:3 and intense arguments were necessary to make 6:0 in favor of not guilty.

      This direct experience has scared me with regard to the jury system as half of the jurors said she was guilty and were willing to convict based on what I considered to be no evidence with an **innocent** victim.

      1. Allan– Thanks for that. You would be a great juror because you let the evidence guide your final conclusion. That is not easy to do; not for anyone. I wouldn’t fault the jury for some of them not being able to emulate your example. I would remember that without a jury she would have probably been convicted. The Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case is another example of the protection juries offer. I think a trial before only that judge would have sent Zimmerman to prison.

        1. Young, doesn’t that make it scary if you know you are innocent and your fate is held be a jury.

          Years ago one of our best friends was the most honest and liked judge. Privately he said that even if he were innocent he might take a good deal under certain circumstances rather than face a jury. I can’t say how serious he was but after my experience he might be right. Interestingly enough the education of the jurors on my jury corresponded with how they judged the defendent. The lawyer was afraid of how I felt but wanted someone that could see through the video and the testimony. Because initially I thought the defendent guilty I refused to become the foreman when they offered me the spot.

          1. When your judge friend said that he would take a good deal rather than face a jury even if innocent he was thinking more of prosecutorial abuse than problems with juries. Particularly the feds throw in so many charges that the risks of loss are enormous when compared to the deal they are offering. They do it to cut off your right to a fair trial. It is despicable and needs to be stopped. Conrad Black has a very good account of his experiences in what has become a corrupt system in his book, A Matter of Principle. Trump should pardon him.

            1. Young, it was stated to my wife so I can’t be sure but I think it didn’t refer to prosecutorial abuse. The feds scare me and though a rare friend or so of mine dislike Alan Dershowitz I explain how he makes sure prosectors dot all the i’s and cross the t’s. I think that helped increase the % convictions at trial because prosecutors had to be more diligent.

              I already posted Howard Root and after seeing that I would be scared to do certain things because of the abuse shown. I have had dealings with federal institutions so I know how nasty they are, but I have always come out on top. Conrad Black is a great example. There is a Canadian (Can’t remember his name) who has run into loads of problems with the Canadian feds. I occasionally follow some of his stories and the abuses he has faced are terrible.

              1. The Howard Root video was shocking. The prosecutors should have gone to prison. In fact, I think the jury was thinking along those lines as well, so disgusted they were with the case.

          2. Sometimes if a defendant thinks a jury will be biased, or the issues of culpability are too complicated for a jury, they will opt for a judge and waive their right to a jury.

            I am not sure how often this actually happens.

            1. Conrad Black thought the jury was presented with so many complex accusations they split the difference and convicted on some charges and acquitted on others. Justice was not done.

  6. If they Democrats lose, they’ll say it’s because we didn’t delay the election.



    New NV Law Allows Democrats to Enter Nursing Homes, Vote for Dementia Patients without Their Signature

    Radical Democrat Governor Sisolak and Nevada Democrats called a special session this past weekend with no public present and inside of 24 hours they rammed through mail-in voting and ballot harvesting.

    Democrats did this during the special leglislative session.

    The Democrats are going to cheat at all costs to keep the state from going to Donald Trump!

    The new Democrat law allows people not related to or friends with elderly voters to fill out their ballots and turn them in to be counted!

    – Gateway Pundit

  8. Actually Nancy Pelosi as next in line might be very temporary as the House must reorganize and choose its leaders when the new Congress is sworn in on Jan 3, 2021. Theoretically they could elect AOC. Then what? She’s not 35 years old yet.

      1. Ivan – this is your BIG day. You pick today for the demise of G. Maxwell. Of course, there is no prize riding on this, just the pride of picking the date. 🙂

          1. My condolences. Friends from my building are selling and leaving the city permanently. They loved the city in the past and lived there most of the year but now they are selling.

            1. I’ll be gone in a few months and I’m never coming back as well. The city I loved is long gone. Things are happening that I’ve never seen before. I no longer feel safe nor do I feel an affinity for my fellow NY’ers anymore. 90% of the cops that walk the beat will tell you that they are insulted every day. The city is empty and the canyons look hellish. I see homeless people who look like they belong in another century. Yesterday, I saw a young black man walking around with no shirt or underwear showing his ass and almost his genitals just walking around talking to people who were sitting at a restaurant table outside. To top it off, a few days ago I was walking my dog in the morning and some idiot says “you should wear a mask.” I could have responded, and, in the past, I would have. But now I’m just done.

              1. Dude, the city is Disneyland – literally – compared to the late ’60s and ’70s.

                1. Dude, I’ve lived in and around NYC my entire life. I remember the 70’s well. The 90’s was like Disneyland, not now. For the first time I can say that I don’t like it here anymore…so I’m gone.

                  1. Too bad Ivan, from what I hear it’s the Disneyland stuff and wall to wall money making the place less interesting, not crime. Last time I visited I walked down 57th St, which used to be small galleries, Carnegie Hall, Steinway, etc, and it was Hard Rock this and Nike Store that. You can get that in a mall in Jersey and not get rained on.

                    1. The plastic monoculture/corp-culture is part of it, but even the dregs have changed…they have gone full freak. The cost of living has skyrocketed. The political atmosphere is beyond stifling. You are not safe walking around with a Trump hat on 🙂 The covid driven emptying of the city is disheartening. The worst part is that the city is clearly less safe than before. It’s nowhere near as bad as the 70’s, but back then I was a child living safely in the suburbs in L.I.

              2. I’ll be back to visit NYC but not going outside Flushing in Queens. LaGuardia is a short ride away.

                As a white guy I feel plenty safe in this neighborhood that is nearly 75% Asian and mostly Chinese. And among them, mostly mainland migrants. Fantastic, orderly, decent, industrious people. Many friends to visit, lots to do, places to eat. Assuming they all aren’t shut down now. I am overdue for a visit and maybe will wait until the covid dies down. if ever.

                It is a gem, and why does it grow, amidst the disorder and poor government of the city? because of the excellent cultural habits of the Chinese people, in a nutshell. They are orderly and industrious and respectful of others. They do not perpetually blame white people for whatever their grievances are. They are smart, and they are fair.

                A lot of the people who make NYC a dangerous place, don’t go there. And I hope they stay away. They know who they are. No matter how many times the local poohbahs say BLM rah rah it is clear they prefer their own and not the usual NYC criminal element. They do welcome visitors who are decent law abiding people who pay their way.

                The way for Flushing to stay strong, is to stay ethnocentric. The Asians have an opening to do that, and get away with that. Lucky for them.

                But just outside of Flushing, still yet in Queens, the tenor of the neighborhood changes. Because the people do. In short, it goes DOWN. A walk down the street at night in Flushing is safe, and all the night fruit and vegetable markets are filled with old folks and women shopping for the next day’s fresh home cooked food. But go just a mile outside, not so much.

                I want my fellow native born Americans to consider the possibility that “all men are NOT created equal” and that different nations have different strengths and weaknesses. Some nations will produce migrants who add to our national prosperity and community, and some nations, will subtract.

                if you import people from nations which are known for backwardness and disorder, they will bring backwardness and disorder

                if you import people from nations which are known for industry, thrift, and order, they will bring it.

                Our national migration policy should benefit Americans first and foremost. Migration should be limited. And when we screen those who can and do come, let’s be realistic about national origins. The US should be apologetically self serving in advancing our common national interests by adding migrants of quality and screening those who lack it.
                Simple as that.

                As for the political problems which are particular to NYC, a Democratic enclave, I have no idea how they could be sorted out. Republicans are ever ineffective in organizing, and the most obvious opportunities they often ignore.

                1. Kurtz, NYC is not dangerous. It’s too f..king expensive for anyone but yuppies to live there, except maybe Queens and those are mostly hard working immigrants. The place I used to live when young was a regular dangerous slum, but now sports Starbucks on every corner.

                  1. The trouble mostly comes via the subways and Path trains. The people committing the street crime don’t live in townhouses…obviously.

              3. Ivan, I can only talk for Manhattan since that is where I live in NYC and that is where my friends live or lived. I consider it the crown jewel of the 5 boroughs. Most of my friends are trying to sell but it is now difficult. If you are selling a place that might be hard.

                I don’t think the city (limited to Manhattan below Harlem) has been this bad despite what btb says and I have had connections to the city my entire life. I think the dangers will significantly increase after Covid permits the city to open up unless they get a mayor that knows what he is doing. It will likely take a long time to repair the police department which was excellent.

          2. Ivan – Best of luck. I hear they are moving her to a different cell every night.

  9. Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the very definition and personification of “abuse of power.”

    The airline pilot you trust your life with would have reached compulsory retirement age at 65; without question; without appeal.


    Vote by mail is corruption by the democrat party.

    Democrats have caused the 2020 presidential election to be improper, corrupt, invalid and illegitimate.

    The time, place and manner of the 2020 election have been changed without legislation by Congress.

    Candidates and their campaigns do not know the actual date of the election.

    Debate dates and waypoint deadlines are not known or discernible by the parties involved.

    The 2020 election is amorphous, fraudulent, illegitimate and invalid.

    A contract is invalid without a date.

    An election is invalid without a date.

  11. After President Trump’s huge and extensive success in office and before President Trump’s historic landslide victory in November, the communists (liberals, progressives, socialists, democrats, RINOs) begged China to release the “China Flu, 2020” to stop him.

    “[Trump’s] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!”

    – Lisa Page to FBI paramour, Peter Strzok

    “No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it.”

    – Peter Strzok to FBI paramour, Lisa Page

  12. Get some Xanax ready for Paint Chips and Paint Chips jr. (Svelaz):

    Rassmussen poll: Trump at 51% approval (same time 2012 Obama was at 44%)

  13. 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. Democrats – Cheat Much?

        “The end justifies the means.”

        – Sergey Nechayev, Communist Revolutionary

        1. George, they don’t know the difference between right and wrong.

  14. China released the “China Flu, 2020” virus through the People’s Liberation Army * in alliance with the communists (liberals, progressives, socialists, democrats, RINOs) in America to destroy the juggernaut that was the Trump Re-election Campaign, which was on its way to an inexorable, historic landslide victory in November.

    Barack Obama conducted a thus-far unsuccessful Coup D’etat in America against candidate and President Donald J. Trump.

    “Crazy Abe” Lincoln commenced the destruction of the Constitution and Bill of Rights by denying constitutional secession, conducting an undeclared war, not of common defense but of northern aggression, forcing Americans to fight an unconstitutional war against legal secession through a military draft, physically attacking his opposition, destroying presses and jailing and overtly intimidating publishers and political opponents, unconstitutionally suspending Habeas Corpus in a condition, not of rebellion, but of legal secession, denying and confiscating private property, destroying civilian industries, residences and farms as total war, knowingly ordering and supporting raping and plundering without a constitutional basis, etc., while his post-assassination “successors” improperly ratified unconstitutional amendments which are “injurious” to the Constitution ** under the duress of brutal, post-war military oppression and occupation.

    President Trump has as much moral and precedent authority as “Crazy Abe” Lincoln, the wholly ineligible, non-“natural born citizen,” Barack Obama and China to conduct a Coup D’etat in the name of the American Republic; to neutralize the judicial and legislative branches and rule by executive order and proclamation in defense of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, 1789, and America, as corrective action in order to re-implement the Constitution and Bill of Rights of 1789.

    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 say 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.

    “…amendments…as will not injure the constitution,…”

    ”And if there are amendments desired, of such a nature as will not injure the constitution, and they can be ingrafted so as to give satisfaction to the doubting part of our fellow citizens; the friends of the federal government will evince that spirit of deference and concession for which they have hitherto been distinguished.”

    – James Madison, Proposed Amendments to the Constitution, June 8, 1789

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