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An American Coup d’État in the Trump Administration

2018-September-5

Trump Tweet - Failing NYT - 2018-09-05

The New York Times Opinion piece just published today, “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration,” is written by an anonymous top Trump Administration official, whose identity is known only to the New York Times. The writer fears reprisals, including losing their job.

In short, this senior Administration official tells us that the people who work for Mr. Trump think he is so unstable that the president’s cabinet has thought about invoking the 25th amendment, but fearing a “constitutional crisis,” they have opted instead to use insubordination and circumvention to keep the country and the world safe from the President of the United States.


Given the instability many witnessed, there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president. But no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis. So we will do what we can to steer the administration in the right direction until — one way or another — it’s over.

Article: I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration


When you consider that we live in a representative democracy, in the United States of America, where we elect presidents, usually without the help of foreign adversaries, this is a terrifying account of how our country is being run by people whom we did not elect, saving us from a president whom, some of us would say, we also did not elect.

Take that in for a moment.


“But we believe our first duty is to this country, and the president continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic.

That is why many Trump appointees have vowed to do what we can to preserve our democratic institutions while thwarting Mr. Trump’s more misguided impulses until he is out of office.

The root of the problem is the president’s amorality. Anyone who works with him knows he is not moored to any discernible first principles that guide his decision making.”

Article: I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration


Instead of using our constitution and the guardrails it provides, like Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, the White House staff, Administration officials, and/or Cabinet Secretaries have opted to be insubordinate, disobey the president, and stop him from doing things that they deem are dangerous to our country, creating what the author describes as a “two-track presidency.”

A two-track presidency? Our constitution does not allow for a “two-track presidency.”

We are a republic with one head of state, one head of government, one commander-in-chief, and one president…and they are all  the same one elected person.


“From the White House to executive branch departments and agencies, senior officials will privately admit their daily disbelief at the commander in chief’s comments and actions. Most are working to insulate their operations from his whims.

Meetings with him veer off topic and off the rails, he engages in repetitive rants, and his impulsiveness results in half-baked, ill-informed and occasionally reckless decisions that have to be walked back.

“There is literally no telling whether he might change his mind from one minute to the next,” a top official complained to me recently, exasperated by an Oval Office meeting at which the president flip-flopped on a major policy decision he’d made only a week earlier.

The erratic behavior would be more concerning if it weren’t for unsung heroes in and around the White House. Some of his aides have been cast as villains by the media. But in private, they have gone to great lengths to keep bad decisions contained to the West Wing, though they are clearly not always successful.

It may be cold comfort in this chaotic era, but Americans should know that there are adults in the room. We fully recognize what is happening. And we are trying to do what’s right even when Donald Trump won’t.

The result is a two-track presidency.

Article: I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration


What these senior Administration officials don’t do is come out and openly tell the country that our emperor has no clothes. According to this anonymous official, they don’t tell us because they are getting some of the things they wanted, like Supreme Court justices, tax cuts, deregulation, and other Republican agenda items, “despite — not because of — the president’s leadership style, which is impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective.”


“Although he was elected as a Republican, the president shows little affinity for ideals long espoused by conservatives: free minds, free markets and free people. At best, he has invoked these ideals in scripted settings. At worst, he has attacked them outright.

In addition to his mass-marketing of the notion that the press is the “enemy of the people,” President Trump’s impulses are generally anti-trade and anti-democratic.

Don’t get me wrong. There are bright spots that the near-ceaseless negative coverage of the administration fails to capture: effective deregulation, historic tax reform, a more robust military and more.

But these successes have come despite — not because of — the president’s leadership style, which is impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective.”

Article: I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration


I think most of us have come to realize that Mr. Trump is in office through ill-gotten means. The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, wanted him and installed him as President of the United States to do his bidding: destroying our leadership and standing in the world, pulling us out of United Nations committees, weakening our alliances and international trade agreements, and using divisive issues to sow discord and distrust domestically, which Mr. Trump has done his best to accomplish.

What we have only suspected – and now has been confirmed – is that non-elected others are running the administration, as evidenced by the contradictory information and actions that come out of the White House in foreign and domestic policy.

We live in a democracy. We elect presidents. And now we know that the un-elected people who were hired to help in Mr. Trump’s administration are the ones running the country. So, Mr. Trump is not only Putin’s puppet, but he is also his own staff’s puppet?


A central theme of the book is the stealthy machinations used by those in Trump’s inner sanctum to try to control his impulses and prevent disasters, both for the president personally and for the nation he was elected to lead.

Woodward describes “an administrative coup d’etat” and a “nervous breakdown” of the executive branch, with senior aides conspiring to pluck official papers from the president’s desk so he couldn’t see or sign them.

Article: Bob Woodward’s new book reveals a ‘nervous breakdown’ of Trump’s presidency


Trump Tweet - Woodward Book - 2018-09-05The president’s staff and cabinet members disobey the president’s orders, as Bob Woodward’s book, Fear, highlights in one example where Donald Trump called General Mattis and ordered him to assassinate Syrian President Assad and others, after the chemical attack in Syria. General Mattis, a U.S. general, told his Commander-In-Chief, Mr. Trump, that they would “get right on it,” but then after hanging up the phone with Mr. Trump, he told a senior aide that they were not going to do that.

Our constitution specifically makes a point of having our generals report to a civilian commander-in-chief, our president, for a reason, for stability. President Roosevelt reminded us that ‘It was due to no accident and no oversight that the framers of our Constitution put the command of our armed forces under civilian authority.’ The framers were trying to avoid the problem European countries had had, and which we had early in our Republic, when military officers plotted against the government.


After Syrian President Bashar al-Assad launched a chemical attack on civilians in April 2017, Trump called Mattis and said he wanted to assassinate the dictator. “Let’s fucking kill him! Let’s go in. Let’s kill the fucking lot of them,” Trump said, according to Woodward.

Mattis told the president that he would get right on it. But after hanging up the phone, he told a senior aide: “We’re not going to do any of that. We’re going to be much more measured.” The national security team developed options for the more conventional airstrike that Trump ultimately ordered.

Article: Bob Woodward’s new book reveals a ‘nervous breakdown’ of Trump’s presidency


In another example of insubordination in Bob Woodward’s book, he describes instances when the president has ordered his staff to draw up papers to withdraw the United States from various agreements and organizations, including NATO and NAFTA. Mr. Trump’s chief economic advisor, Gary Cohn, apparently removed from Mr. Trump’s desk “a notification letter withdrawing [the United States] from NAFTA,” so that he would not be able to sign the document. Mr. Trump did not notice it was removed.

Perhaps on the one hand we should be grateful, and clearly that is what the author or authors of the anonymous op-ed piece think they deserve, gratitude. On the other hand, we should also be terrified. Terrified that people, whom we did not elect, are running our government and making decisions no voter has empowered them to make. No matter how well-meaning they may be, this is not how our constitution prescribes we handle an unfit president.


Cohn made a similar play to prevent Trump from pulling the United States out of the North American Free Trade Agreement, something the president has long threatened to do. In spring 2017, Trump was eager to withdraw from NAFTA and told Porter: “Why aren’t we getting this done? Do your job. It’s tap, tap, tap. You’re just tapping me along. I want to do this.”

Under orders from the president, Porter drafted a notification letter withdrawing from NAFTA. But he and other advisers worried that it could trigger an economic and foreign relations crisis. So Porter consulted Cohn, who told him, according to Woodward: “I can stop this. I’ll just take the paper off his desk.”

Despite repeated threats by Trump, the United States has remained in both pacts. The administration continues to negotiate new terms with South Korea as well as with its NAFTA partners, Canada and Mexico.”

Article: Bob Woodward’s new book reveals a ‘nervous breakdown’ of Trump’s presidency


The examples of incompetence and insubordination are endless and worrisome, both for the fact that we seemingly have a mentally unstable, incompetent, impetuous, corrupt, and dishonest man for president, and for the fact that we have people subverting the U.S. President’s efforts, disobeying his orders, appeasing and treating him like a child.

The “constitutional crisis” only comes in not allowing our institutions to check and balance each other; it comes in not using the provisions our constitution gives us to remedy unfit presidents; it comes in obstructing the Department of Justice and Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation; it comes in putting party above country.

Trump Tweet - Treason - 2018-09-05Subverting and circumventing the President of the United States sets bad precedent and damages confidence in our democracy. We need to use the remedies the constitution gives us. The President’s cabinet can use Section 4 of the 25th Amendment. Congress can use the process of impeachment. The American people can use the power of the vote.

However, to hide behind anonymity and fear because you are able to manipulate the president to get your Republican agenda through? Well, that is a constitutional crisis.

It also sounds a great deal like a coup d’état.

This is how democracies cease to exist.

We should be worried.



Martie Hevia (c) 2018 All Rights Reserved

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