At this point we now have Trump regime Pentagon officials openly calling for Trump to implement martial law in order to steal the election, folks. The alarm bells don't get much louder than this.
President Donald Trump's nominee to become a senior Pentagon official spread debunked conspiracies on Twitter that called Trump's election loss to Joe Biden a "coup" attempt and shared tweets that suggest Trump should declare martial law.
Scott O'Grady, a former fighter pilot and Trump loyalist, repeatedly retweeted tweets that falsely stated Trump won the election in "landslide fashion" and that millions of votes were stolen from the President.
On November 25, O'Grady retweeted a tweet that said, "Trump won & Biden & his Comrades will now attempt a coup," next to a photoshopped image of Biden beside Xi Jinping, the President of China.
On December 2, he retweeted an account that shared an article that said former national security adviser Michael Flynn had shared a petition that called for martial law. He then retweeted the same account which suggested that Trump should declare martial law.
"I don't know who needs to hear this," the account said, "But calling for martial law is not a bad idea when there is an attempted coup against the president and this country happening right now."
The tweet references a petition Flynn shared on Twitter calling for Trump to declare martial law and order a new presidential election. The petition falsely called November's presidential election "fraudulent" and called on Trump to have the military oversee a new election. Attorney General William Barr said in an interview published Tuesday that there is no evidence that widespread fraud occurred during the election.
In the aftermath of the election, Trump himself has spread numerous conspiracies and falsehoods alleging that Democrats and other outside forces have stolen the election from him. He has also upended management in the Defense Department by making wholesale changes in the Pentagon's civilian leadership since firing Defense Secretary Mark Esper by tweet November 9, ousting at least three other officials and replacing them with perceived loyalists.
CNN's KFile reviewed O'Grady's tweets and media appearances and found that O'Grady shared other debunked election conspiracies and that he also degraded top military and intelligence officials. In a radio interview, he called former President Barack Obama and military generals "sworn socialists," and advocated that the military justice system should bring back treason charges. He retweeted a tweet that called former Defense Secretary James Mattis a "traitor."
He tweeted that Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a star witness during the Trump impeachment hearings, should be charged "for insurrection because he is a biased liberal political operative" and said on a radio show that it was "disgusting" for Vindman to testify against Trump. He also spread a baseless claim that the whistleblower in the impeachment saga dated the daughter of House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff.
O'Grady was nominated by the White House to become an assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs at the Pentagon, a key position within the Department of Defense's policy shop overseeing operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The position is a political appointment, and if O'Grady is confirmed, he would only fill the role until the start of the Biden administration.
His nomination, which was sent to the Senate on Monday, comes as the Pentagon's top civilian officials have been hastily replaced with perceived Trump loyalists and conspiracy theorists despite some lacking credentials -- and in some cases, lacking Senate confirmation -- for the positions.
Folks, I know it's fashionable to ignore this as more Trump nonsense and bullshit, that this is all bluster, and that the odds of Trump actually putting together a coup given his demonstrated choices of incompetent toadies and lickspittles at every turn is near zero, have a good darkly comic laugh at the whole, thing, and to go about our business. Never forget that Donald Trump is a profoundly ignorant and cowardly bully who is nothing without his enablers, and his enablers no longer have any reason to get themselves destroyed while Trump self-immolates. They are already heading for the lifeboats.
Having said all that, yes, we should be kind of moderately concerned with Trump replacing Pentagon staff with people who are proclaiming he should implement martial law to take a second term by force. We've spent the last five years saying "Trump wouldn't dare do that, he'd be finished" and yet 95% of the time he's done it anyway and gotten away with it, up to and including skating on impeachment.
And O'Grady is the least of the problems in the civilian leadership of the Pentagon under Trump.
The White House removed nine members of the Pentagon's Defense Business Board on Friday and installed people loyal to President Donald Trump in their place, including presidential allies Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie.
The firings marked the latest effort by the Trump administration to clean out the Defense Department in the final weeks of the president's term.
Members of the board received a brief email from Joshua Whitehouse, the White House liaison to the Department of Defense, that simply said, “if you are receiving this e-mail, your membership on the Defense Business Board has expired or is coming to an end.”
"A number of board members have been terminated with a form letter. In my experience, I was very surprised that the White House would, at the eleventh hour, adjust an advisory board that for 19 years has had a record of nonpartisan support with the department," Michael Bayer, who until today was board chair, told POLITICO.
"This kind of a move really will weigh heavily on people in the future and their willingness to serve on these outside advisory boards if they're going to be subjected to political loyalty tests. It's unprecedented. I'm just saddened," he added.
Besides Bayer, the other board members who were let go are Arnold Punaro, Atul Vashistha, John O'Connor, David Venlet, Paul Dolan, Scott Dorn, David Walker and David Van Slyke.
A statement by the Pentagon said the members' terms had expired. Yet three former board members who spoke to POLITICO said their tours were not close to ending.
The firings came as a shock to the board members, who had not received any negative feedback or warning prior to their termination. One former board member lamented the move, noting that the board “has never been political, ever.”
“You are talking about 15, 20 executives, business leaders, government leaders, who are giving their time to serve the nation and not even a thank you note,” said the person, who asked not to be named. “It’s just about simple gratitude and appreciation for people.”
"I had no indication this was coming. It was a form letter going to a large number of people," Bayer said.
Besides Lewandowski and Bossie, the other new members are Henry Dreifus, Robert McMahon, Cory Mills, Bill Bruner, Christopher Shank, Joseph Schmidt, Keary Miller, Allen Weh and Earl Matthews.
Lewandowski was Trump's first campaign manager in 2016 and this year was a senior adviser to the campaign, where he traveled to various states to promote its legal challenges to the election results; he also is president and CEO of Lewandowski Strategic Advisors.
Bossie, a longtime conservative operative, was Trump's deputy campaign manager in 2016 and more recently was tapped to lead the effort to contest the election. Mills is an Army veteran and on Twitter, calls himself a "Newsmax insider," a reference to one of Trump's preferred TV channels.
"These individuals have a proven track record of achievement within their respective fields and have demonstrated leadership that will serve our Department, and our nation well," acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller said in a statement.
So yes, I'm worried about Trump saying "screw it" and declaring martial law in the weeks ahead. The odds of that are extremely low.
But they are not zero.