Yesterday, the media erupted with the latest bombshell stories of how President Donald Trump is discussing plans for martial law and the appointment of former Trump campaign lawyer Sidney Powell as a Special Counsel. It was a familiar bomb and bust pattern. A fair basis for coverage on the meeting quickly mutated into what bordered on panic coverage on the threat of a military takeover. This morning Jake Tapper headlined his show with “Conspiracy in the Oval Office” on how Trump discussed imposing martial law. He asked “How scared should we be?” The answer is not very on either count. President Trump publicly denied the report as “fake news.”
Tapper was right to describe the idea as “deranged.” He added that this is “alarming and scary.” I do not question the validity of the story, just the implications of the story. It is not as scary as the headline would suggest however.
This story has “sources” – the anonymous aides who have given virtually instantaneous leaks in the last four years from meetings in the Oval Office. In this case, within hours of a meeting, the sources apparently told various news outlets on Friday night Trump was discussing martial law and the appointment of controversial former campaign counsel Sidney Powell as a special counsel to investigate the 2020 election. The meeting was described as heated with various aides pushing back on the statements of both Powell and Gen. Michael Flynn, who was recently pardoned by President Trump.
There is every possibility that martial law and the special counsel were raised. The meeting was described as an informal gathering with Powell and Flynn. It would be no surprise that Flynn repeated his view. I criticized Flynn recently for suggesting that martial law would be appropriate given the election controversy. It was an outrageous and reckless statement that was tantamount to a call for tyranny. For those of us who defended Flynn over his abusive prosecution, it was also a disappointment that someone who has long defended this country would embrace such an anti-democratic call. Frankly, Trump should have reminded Flynn that he is speaking to the President of the United States in the Oval Office and such a suggestion is wildly offensive and unhinged.
Yet, having such a suggestion raised does not make this a conspiracy in the works. There are lots of looney and disturbing things said in the Oval Office. Some actually made it to the planning stage like nuking the Moon under President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The point is that there is no basis for the declaration of martial law and neither the courts nor Congress (including many Republican members) would stand for it. However, the stories brushed over the fact that accounts indicated that it was raised by Flynn and not some agenda item of a meeting of the Trump Trilateral Commission. Despite his alarming rhetoric, Trump has complied consistently with court decisions and worked within the legal system. If he or his successor ever defied the court, they would be removed from office.
Flynn repeating his reckless comment in the Oval Office does not make a conspiracy. It is an embarrassment. Even if Trump lost his mind, he would have to carry out a martial rule without the military. The military has said to leave it out of such bizarre discussions.
The suggested appointment of Powell does sound like vintage Trump. However, a Powell appointment is only slightly more feasible than a military takeover. The problem is that Powell would be barred from such an appointment on a myriad of grounds. Let’s just name three.
First, a special counsel is appointed by the Justice Department. Trump recently pushed into Attorney General Bill Barr an early departure from the Department after Barr stated that he had not seen evidence of widespread voting fraud and followed Department ethical rules in not disclosing the Hunter Biden investigation before the election. Barr would clearly not make such an appointment and, even if he did, he clearly would not appoint Powell. It is unlikely that acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen would be any more inclined to do so.
Under the Justice Department regulations, such an appointment must not only be in the public interest but based on a finding that that is a need for additional criminal investigation and “[t]hat investigation or prosecution of that person or matter by a United States Attorney’s Office or litigating Division of the Department of Justice would present a conflict of interest for the Department or other extraordinary circumstances.” There has been no such findings by the Justice Department despite Barr making it easier for federal prosecutors to investigate election fraud allegations. To the contrary, courts have uniformly rejected the allegations.
Second, even if a special counsel were considered, Powell could not be ethically appointed. Powell served as counsel to the Trump campaign before she was severed by the Trump campaign after making controversial conspiracy theories. (For the record, I was one of the many people critical of the press conference held with Powell and the sweeping conspiracy theories). It would be unprecedented and unethical to appoint a former Trump campaign lawyer as special counsel under regulations designed to avoid conflicts of interest.
Third, and most importantly, no one at the Justice Department would do it. If President Trump ordered Rosen to appoint Powell, Rosen should (and hopefully would) resign. I have faith that the President would have to fire his way down to the DOJ motor pool before he found anyone willing to make such a clearly unethical and inappropriate appointment.
What is most striking is that such an appointment would doom the well-based investigations set into protective amber by Barr. As I have previously discussed, Barr effectively guaranteed that the investigations of both the Russian investigation and Hunter Biden could be completed even in a Biden Administration. By making Durham special counsel, Barr left Biden and the Democrats in a muddle. Trump may have discussed firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller but he never did it. Biden would have to do what Trump ultimately did not do. On the Hunter Biden investigation, Barr waited until after the election to allow the investigation to be made public. That will make it hard for Biden to even replace the Delaware U.S. Attorney until after the investigation. By waiting until after the election, Barr preserved the integrity of both the investigations and the Department from accusations of political motivations.
If Trump were to appoint Powell, it would be the excuse that Democrats are looking for to terminate all three investigations. Indeed, even the discussion of such an appointment undermines the strong position left by Barr on these investigations.
These are just three reasons why it is unlikely to happen. I do not blame the media for writing about the meeting if it has valid sources. I just wish it would show equal interest in confirmed investigations involving the Russian collusion investigation and the Hunter Biden scandal. Those are not chimerical but real. So is the allegations of sexual misconduct by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo make by a former staff member who was not anonymous.
It is all part of the withdrawal symptoms for a post-Trump media. This was one last sensational story to discuss while burying less popular or convenient stories. There is an alternative. You can honestly and fully cover them all like an independent media.
The greater problem is that, after the President pushed Barr out of office early, he has lost the critical stabilizing force of his Administration. He now lacks that fire wall and source of mature and measured advice. That role will now fall entirely on the shoulders of White House Counsel Pat Cipollone.
455 thoughts on ““How Scared Should We Be?”: CNN’s Jake Tapper Leads Show With “Conspiracy In the Oval Office” On Possible Declaration Of Martial Law”
“Egypt and China are totalitarian. They are not actually statist. The scale of government in Egypt relative to the population was tiny.”
Merriam Webster primary definition of statism. “concentration of economic controls and planning in the hands of a highly centralized government often extending to government ownership of industry”
No mention of the size of government relative to the population mentioned there.
“Merriam Webster primary definition of statism. “concentration of economic controls and planning in the hands of a highly centralized government often extending to government ownership of industry”
No mention of the size of government relative to the population mentioned there.”
Do not care. I define statism as the progression towards bigger government.
If you do not like that – then tell me what the correct word is for the progression towards bigger government is ?
If one does not exist – then we have a 1984 moment where we have mangled the meaning of words to preclude people from thinking about a concept. I keep telling you over and over defintions are an end, not a begining. We START with ideas and reality. The purpose of words is to accurately describe ideas and reality. The purpose of defintions is to improve the ability of words to accurately describe ideas and reality. One of the lessons of most dysoptias is that disconnecting reality and ideas from words is a means to preclude thinking about disfavored ideas and realities.
I would note that YOUR websters defintion is inseperable from size. Top down structures always have more overhead than bottom up ones. The more top down the more overhead.
Even outside of government we see a natural cycle where businesses and instutions are born – typically small, grow and ultimately die.
The average life span of a fortune 500 company is about 15 years as I recall – but more important it is declining. I think only 1 of the top ten fortune 500 companies existed 50 years ago. There are advantages to larger entities but those entities are also more fragile.
The same is true of government. We have lots of economic data that establishes that the rate of improvement of standard of living declines by 1% for every 10% of GDP that government consumes – regardless of the specific form of government.
This trend is probably a curve rather than linear, Regardless it is accurate down to government of 20% of GDP – the data we have for smaller government is mostly from the 19th century.
So you can play words games all you want – but bigger government – regardless of form is less efficient. PERIOD.
We have nearly identical data correlating freedom to improvement in standard of living. Likely because size of government is a proxy for reduced freedom.
“If you do not like that – then tell me what the correct word is for the progression towards bigger government is ?”
There are several good choices. Lunch, mental illness, societal suicide come to mind.
“Do not care. I define statism as the progression towards bigger government.”
That is why I keep stating things are definitional and that we require definitions. You just defined a word in a different fashion than Merriam Webster. That is what I call, ‘your proprietary definition’. It is impossible to discuss something unless the definitions are agreed on.
This is not a word game as you suggest. That is reality. Your proprietary dictionary is a word game. I am not suggesting something is or isn’t true only that the accepted definition of the word affects what others say.
“That is why I keep stating things are definitional and that we require definitions.”
Again you keep pretending that defintions are reversable to reality.
I am sorry that your use/misuse of Webster has lead to YOUR confusion.
I think the meaning of the term statism as larger government is self evident – and if Websters defintion is at odds with that – webster is wrong in a 1984 like manner.
A self evident definition is NEVER proprietary.
A dictionary defintion that is at odds with what is self evident is deception.
We get into this all the times with leftists – just about every dystopia ever written requires that words are used contrary to their plain meaning to deprive people of the means to express that plain meaning. This is what Orwell means by “Newspeak”.
When the left conflates words with violence – and our dictionaries are full of the evidence of that conflation – that induces a major category error into our thinking.
Is calling someone a Nazi the same as slugging a person ?
The latter is actual violence and the legitimate domain of government. The former is something entirely different – it might be offensive, it does not cause you physcial harm. It does not take from you anything that was yours. Put simply – calling someone something offensive and slugging them are in completely different catagories.
“You just defined a word in a different fashion than Merriam Webster. That is what I call, ‘your proprietary definition’. It is impossible to discuss something unless the definitions are agreed on.”
Correct – which is why we ALWAYS start with the plain meaning of words – not dictionaries. Or atleast we do so when we are dealing with matters involving government – FORCE. You can use whatever defintion you please when you are writing fiction.
“This is not a word game as you suggest.”
And yet it is.
” That is reality.”
The reality is that government fails in proportion to its scale. Statism is a perfectly good label for the worship of ever larger government.
I deliberately use statism because government failure due to scale is not inherently ideological. It does not matter whether a large scale government is socialist or democratic – it will fail pretty much the same.
You want to fight over the word “statism” – whose meaning is self evident – because you found a websters definition that seems at odds with the pain meaning.
Statism: the principle or policy of concentrating extensive economic, political, and related controls in the state at the cost of individual liberty.
Ronald Reagan famously said, “The ten most dangerous words in the English language are “Hi, I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.”
Thomas Jefferson said “If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so.”
Among conservatives, libertarians and anarchists, “The State” referred to in “Statism” is big government that derives its power through coercion via the threat of violence.
“The idea that The State is capable of solving social problems is now viewed with great skepticism – which foretells a coming change. As soon as skepticism is applied to the State, the State falls, since it fails at everything except increasing its power, and so can only survive on propaganda, which relies on unquestioning faith.”
Clearly you “accepted” definition is not “accepted”.
“Again you keep pretending that defintions are reversable to reality.”
Reality and a political theory are two different things.
It is not a misuse of a dictionary when the questions of definitions arises. It is a misuse of words when one states their proprietary definition of words are a definition.
If you believe a definition is wrong then you can state your own definition and why. Definitions are not based on narrow opinions. They are based on what the words mean to the community. The newer definitions might contrast with your beliefs but you still have to contend with them unless you are speaking only to a like mind. Think of the following quote “The stink of a rose”. Our present definition of the word, stink, might make Shakespeare complain, but you are no Shakespeare.
That leftists have changed many words doesn’t change the fact that when people communicate they do so based on what words mean to the general community. If you prefer a different definition you can always provide your alternate definition so a topic can be discussed even if that definition doesn’t exist in a dictionary. But you cannot blame someone for using the common definition.
“Correct – which is why we ALWAYS start with the plain meaning of words – not dictionaries. “
Not so, because what you call the plain meaning of a word might be exclusive to you. We start with the common word and work our way from there. Otherwise we will face the problems of the Tower of Babel.
Political theory that conflicts with reality is meaningless.
No. It’s a good starting off point.
Reality always trumps every theory – political or otherwise.
Weren;t you accusing me of a lack of pragmatism ?
Johnathan Turley forgets that President Lincoln was about to lose the nation, although He circumvented the constitution to keep the Nation together illegally, He even locked down the Supreme court Justice, all illegally because the Bill of Rights granted the states the right to succeed from the Union, the Federal Government have sponsored a coup against this president from day one you cannot defeat this present by the constitution and the law of the land, Judges crooked Supreme court crooked congress crooked, News media crooked. We will be a third world country if we allow this election to stand we must fight for a righteous Nation and throw the liars out of office We don’t Have a Judge other than Judge Thomas and Alito willing to study the validity of the election and stand against voter fraud. Joe Biden confessed to the biggest voter fraud in history, he confessed to the crime where are the Handcuffs?
There is no such luck that martial law will be declared.
Every time they criticize Trump for calling the media fake news, they prove themselves to be fake news.
“The greater problem is that, after the President pushed Barr out of office early”
How do you push someone who is already hauling ass out of the door?
Barr did a masterful job of covering his ass while doing exactly what the boys in the Lincoln Project wanted him to do on the way out. That being, shove a high hard one up the Democratic establishments collective ass.
“That will make it hard for Biden to even replace the Delaware U.S. Attorney until after the investigation”
Bullsh*t! Biden is a demented puppet who will do exactly as instructed. If he is told to can Durham, he will do so.
“tantamount to a call for tyranny”
You’re now suddenly worried about tyranny, Jonathan?!
That’s like being concerned about whether you should evacuate your beach house AFTER the Category 5 Hurricane has already made landfall.
Democrats started our country down the conspiracy black hole years ago and have sold America to CCP
Sen. Lankford: More Americans Believe in Election Fraud in 2020 Than Russian Interference in 2016
December 17, 2020
Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) on Dec. 16 defended the Senate committee hearing dealing with election “irregularities,” noting that poll results indicate that more Americans believe fraud occurred in the 2020 presidential election than those who believed Russians sought to interfere in the 2016 election.
A poll in December 2016 showed 32 percent of Americans thought Russia influenced the outcome of that year’s election, Lankford said at the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing.
“Based on that belief and what was going, it launched a whole series of hearings,” Lankford said.
“Certainly, the Russians were trying to interfere in our elections, but we spent millions and millions of dollars investigating it, going through it,” he said. “We did six different public hearings on Russian interference just on that one topic to make sure we were paying attention to it.”
He said 46 percent of respondents to a recent poll said they believe there was election fraud in this year’s election
Now, amazingly, after this election, all kinds of issues have come up and said there are potentials for problems, and everyone seems to be saying ‘move on.’ The only reason that I can think that would be different was because the election outcomes seem to be different. And one side is now saying, ‘Let’s just move on and ignore this,’” he said.
“It’s reasonable to be able to ask if people can drift around and gather ballots from other people and do ballot harvesting—and in some states, that’s legal—does that provide an opportunity for fraud? I think the obvious answer is yes.
“The obvious answer is if you mail a ballot to everyone in the state, even if they didn’t ask for it, does it provide an opportunity for fraud? Especially when the state did not first purge or verify those addresses, and they sent thousands of ballots to people that no longer live there.”
Lankford spoke during a hearing that was opposed by Democrats, who called for it to be canceled.
Using a Senate committee to spread “misinformation” about elections “is beyond the pale,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on the Senate floor last week.
If you look at the US treasury holdings by the PRC, then, it is perhaps a truer point, that the Federal Reserve Bank is the one who’s sold the US down the road to the CCP
Now, tell me, DO WE GET TO VOTE ON WHO RUNS THE FED?
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