Coup Plotting II: The Giuliani Boogaloo

“Trump and Rudy” by The White House is in the Public Domain, CC0

Via the NYT comes further examples of Oval Office level discussion about actions that would constitute a coup, which I will quote below. But I would note that the headline should have focused on this fact rather than Trump Weighed Naming Election Conspiracy Theorist as Special Counsel.

Don’t get me wrong, the idea that headline is referencing is, without a doubt cuckoo for coco-puffs (to use the political science term), deserves attention:

President Trump on Friday discussed naming Sidney Powell, who as a lawyer for his campaign team unleashed conspiracy theories about a Venezuelan plot to rig voting machines in the United States, to be a special counsel overseeing an investigation of voter fraud, according to two people briefed on the discussion.

It was unclear if Mr. Trump will move ahead with such a plan.

[…]

But the idea that Mr. Trump would try to install Ms. Powell in a position to investigate the outcome sent shock waves through the president’s circle. She has repeatedly claimed there was widespread fraud, but several lawsuits she filed related to election fraud have been tossed out of court.

Setting aside the fact that there is no evidence of the need for a special counsel to look into this election, the bottom line is that Sidney Powell has demonstrated herself to be utterly incompetent. So much so that team Trump had distanced themselves from her quite publicly. Of course, if she is getting White House meetings, we know how seriously to take that prior move to distance.

As crazy as all of this, the real piece of truly important reporting in the piece is as follows:

Part of the White House meeting on Friday night was a discussion about an executive order to take control of voting machines to examine them, according to one of the people briefed on the discussion.

Mr. Giuliani has separately pressed the Department of Homeland Security to seize possession of voting machines as part of a push to overturn the results of the election, three people familiar with the discussion said. Mr. Giuliani was told the department does not have the authority to do such a thing.

The conversation between Mr. Giuliani and Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, the acting deputy secretary of the Homeland Security Department, took place in the past week, according to the people familiar with the discussion, who were granted anonymity because they were not authorized to describe the conversation.

This should have been its own story and it is big-font-headline-worthy. If the president’s lawyer is trying to persuade DHS to seize voting equipment as a means of overturning electoral outcomes, that again puts in the realm of coup attempts. It is a truly outrageous suggestion that should never be uttered by someone working for the President of the United States.

Mr. Cuccinelli is said to have told Mr. Giuliani that there is no authority by which the agency, which spent the year working with state election officials to prepare for the election, could assert control over voting machines in those states.

Good for Cuccinelli, but really this is the kind of thing that should cause him to immediately hold a press conference to reveal this conversation. It is, in my view, his constitutional duty.

It was unclear whether Mr. Trump facilitated the phone call.

Mr. Giuliani called Mr. Cuccinelli this week to push the department to re-examine the machines to find evidence of what the Trump campaign has called widespread fraud, two of the people briefed on the discussion said.

The effort by Mr. Trump’s campaign to use the cybersecurity agency in the push to overturn the results of the election comes after the president last month fired the head of that agency, Christopher C. Krebs. Before he was ousted, Mr. Krebs joined other top election officials in calling the 2020 election “the most secure in American history.”

State and local governments take the lead in managing elections in the United States while the cybersecurity agency primarily provides support, guidance and intelligence with the local leaders on potential threats to the voting system.

All of these anonymous sources are simply being cowardly at this time. For one thing, the administration is almost done, so what jobs are they protecting at this point? Anyone who has witnessed any of this has a moral obligation to speak, else they are accessories to an attempted coup (a word and an accusation that I do not use lightly).

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Sleeping Dog says:

    The fact that Cuccinelli (CUCCINELLI!) is something remotely close to the right thing, is clear evidence that thankfully, the Trump nightmare is ending.

    Anyone who has witnessed any of this has a moral obligation to speak, else they are accessories to an attempted coup (a word and an accusation that I do not use lightly).

    +1

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  2. JohnMcC says:

    @Sleeping Dog: I had exactly that same reaction: CUCCINELLI!! When our democracy hangs on that thread we are in deep doo-doo indeed.

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  3. Scott F. says:

    Anyone who has witnessed any of this has a moral obligation to speak, else they are accessories to an attempted coup (a word and an accusation that I do not use lightly).

    Amen!

    This seditious discussion purportedly took place in the WHITE HOUSE! Not some dark room away from prying eyes, but in the People’s House with taxpayer employees in attendance. The reporting needs to be corroborated, but the behaviors described are recognizably typical for this POTUS. Trump and his enablers need to be held to account beyond their loss of office. (And I am horrified that this demand for the obvious response seems both naive and too much to ask.)

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  4. Kathy says:

    Rudy is not a government official. If he wants something from a government agency, even on orders from his client, he has to go through the proper channels. He does not order or even suggest to a cabinet secretary what actions to take.

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  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    For one thing, the administration is almost done, so what jobs are they protecting at this point?

    Their ability to grift on the wingnut welfare circuit. Seriously, imagine having to go out and get a job! I mean a real job, one where a person is expected to work and actually produce!

    The horror.

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  6. Franklin says:

    the idea that headline is referencing is, without a doubt cuckoo for coco-puffs (to use the political science term)

    Dr. Taylor, you are usually so serious that this hit me like a ton of bricks. Funny bricks. Thank you for that.

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  7. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Franklin:

    Dr. Taylor, you are usually so serious that this hit me like a ton of bricks.

    Personally, the guy is the funniest writer here… he cracks me up al the time.

    Indeed.

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  8. Christopher Osborne says:

    @Liberal Capitalist: …Indeed.”

    I see what you did there…

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  9. Kingdaddy says:

    Meanwhile, over at the National Review, there is no mention of the coup talk in the White House. Apparently, the three day series on Jill Biden’s dissertation was vastly more important.

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  10. inhumans99 says:

    First, as Kathy pointed out, folks like Giuliani and Sydney Powell are attorneys and have no power to say jump, and expect Government officials to say how high?

    Second, I get the vibe that folks like McConnell are just letting Trump and his buddies like Giuliani and Flynn chat away like hens in a bull session about their what-if this could happen fantasies that would keep Trump in office. Trump is starting to be seen as the pathetic cowardly creature he really has been all his life.

    I wonder if the GOP is hoping that 6 months from now they will just look back on the last four years and Trump’s outright silly coup attempts as something that happened in a fever dream as they just try to get back to the normal of being dicks to anyone who has a D in front of their name.

    Honestly, if Biden decides to get tough on Trump, Giuliani, Flynn, Powell, and even folks like Newt Gingrich, Ted Cruz and Ron DeSantis who were cheerleading Trump’s attempts to re-install himself as President for another 4 years things might look downright scary for some members of the GOP who could technically be arrested and put on trial for plotting against the United States (so yes, it will not happen but Trump is saying things that could get him arrested and thrown in the hoosegow).

    At this point, the GOP has to be more embarrassed by Trump’s ham-fisted attempts to attempt a coup than frightened of him.

    I do appreciate that if Democrats are smart that anytime the GOP tries to lecture them about morals, etc., as if they are folks who would take the high ground, that all a Democrat has to say is Trump…and that should shut things down while they drop the mic.

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  11. Senyordave says:

    @inhumans99: At this point, the GOP has to be more embarrassed by Trump’s ham-fisted attempts to attempt a coup than frightened of him.

    Is it April 1st already? The GOP embarassed?

  12. @inhumans99:

    At this point, the GOP has to be more embarrassed by Trump’s ham-fisted attempts to attempt a coup than frightened of him.

    If 18 state AGs ad something like 160 (the exact number escapes me) GOP members of Congress had not signed onto that Texas suit a few weeks ago, I might wish to hope you have a point. Instead, I see a party willing to continually lie about fraud and not publicly denounce this nonsense.

    The GOP appears quite willing to endorse anti-democratic actions and rhetoric. This isn’t going to just go away, even though Trump himself eventually will.

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  13. @inhumans99:

    I do appreciate that if Democrats are smart that anytime the GOP tries to lecture them about morals, etc., as if they are folks who would take the high ground, that all a Democrat has to say is Trump…and that should shut things down while they drop the mic.

    In all seriousness: this has not been what I have seen the last 4+ years. I have seen a more than willing hypocrisy on these things. I think you are being optimistic, if not a bit delusional, to be honest.

  14. inhumans99 says:

    Tell me how you really feel Steven…lol. Yeah, I suspect my post should have one of those twitter messages on posts they have flagged due to misleading content. Something like Inhumans99 feels that the GOP will change their stripes over the next 6-12 months but multiple sources say this will not happen and inhumans99 is engaged in wishful thinking.

    To really spike the ball Twitter would put the additional in parenthesis (example – Editor’s note: we would like to thank inhumans99 for making it so we were able to rotflmao when we read his post, after all laughter is the best medicine and his post was a massive spoonful of medicine).

    I can only imagine an alternate universe where Trump had the type of personality where he could chuckle at the roast like barbs folks threw at him instead of plotting the downfall of Democracy because his feeling were hurt.

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