Podcast: the most dangerous period comes now

federal police

In Episode 58 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg takes stock of pro-Trump rabble threatening insurrection from Michigan to Idaho (where overt neo-Nazism is in evidence) as explicit calls are raised from the far right for “martial law” and nullification of Biden’s election. In this light, the petition to the Supreme Court by “red state” attorneys general was not significant because of its odds for success but as an indication of how the political lines are drawn at this moment. With the attempted “judicial coup” now failing, Trump and his partisans are preparing for Plan B—an actual military coup. The Pentagon purge is clear evidence of this, and the sabre-rattling at Iran may be aimed at fomenting a global crisis that will provide a convenient pretext. It is a failure of America’s progressive forces that #StopTheSteal has become a popular hashtag on the right but #StopTheCoup has not become a popular hashtag on the left. Weinberg urges that we reject the dubious precepts of “American exceptionalism” and start acting like it can happen here—before it is too late.

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Production by Chris Rywalt

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Photo via CrimethInc
  1. Clashes in DC after Million MAGA March

    Clashes with police and confrontations between Trump supporters and counter-protesters, were seen Dec. 12 after the second “Million MAGA March” held in DC since November’s election results. Four people were stabbed in downtown DC near Black Lives Matter Plaza. All four have been hospitalized with critical injuries. (WUSA9)

  2. Signs mount of impending Trump coup

    Ominously, the Pentagon has cut off transition cooperation with the Biden team, saying it is a mutually agreed-to holiday break—a claim denied by the Biden team.

    Meanwhile, Trump issued a tweet calling for “wild” protests in DC on Jan. 6, when Congress is to affirm the Electoral College vote. White House staff have told reporters that he is threatening not to vacate White House on Inauguration Day. Others have told reporters that he asked his advisors about the feasibility of Michael Flynn’s plan to deploy the military and force a re-do of the election.

    All this comes as Trumpian legions continue to threaten public officials across the country. In Michigan, state Rep. Cynthia Johnson, who is Black, received racist threats—including to burn crosses on her lawn. When she responded forthrightly in a video statement, she, perversely, was censured—removed from her three committee posts.

  3. ‘Heated’ White House meeting on ‘martial law’

    The NY Times is reporting that Trump convened a “heated” meeting in the Oval Office on Dec. 18, including Michael Flynn and wacky attorney Sidney Powell. In the words of CNN, sources said the meeting “devolved and eventually broke out into screaming matches at certain points as some of Trump’s aides pushed back on Powell and Flynn’s more outrageous suggestions about overturning the election.” This is pretty clearly a reference to Flynn’s recent call on NewsMax for “martial law” and a re-do of the election.

    After the story broke, Trump tweeted that it was “fake news.”

  4. Signs continue to mount of impending Trump coup

    CNN reports that there have been further White House meetings with Sidney Powell, who Trump is supposedly considering appointing a “special councsel” empowered to seize voting machines. Even far-right operative Steve Bannon has apparently been invited back into the Oval Office. And on Dec. 20, Trump’s reelection campaign committee petitioned the US Supreme Court to reverse three decisions by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania rejecting challenges to election results in that state.

    Meanwhile in Salem, Ore., armed protesters angry over COVID-19 restrictions tried to force their way into the statehouse. Erie County officials were accosted by helmeted anti-mask protesters in Buffalo, NY. Arrests were also seen in Sacramento, where the Proud Boys and other pro-Trump groups demanding election nullification clashed with counter-protesters.

  5. Signs continue to mount of impending Trump coup

    In a bogus play to populism, Trump threatens to veto the new COVID-19 relief bill unless the payouts to the populace are jacked up from $600 to $2,000—knowing his GOP allies will block it and force a government shutdown (thereby lubricating his planned coup d’etat). Cute, huh? Meanwhile, Attorney General William Barr has been forced out, one day after he again broke with Trump on unsupported claims of widespread election fraud and the need to appoint a special counsel. 

    All this of course comes amid a rash of pardons of the most ugly elements of his administration and political apparatus over the past four years… He is not pardoning them to repay their loyalty, which he will no longer need if he leaves his office. He is pardoning them to bring them into his post-coup regime. Flynn will be his Himmler, Bannon will be his Goebbels, etc.

    Do you get it yet?

  6. Court upholds dismissal of Trump suit aganst Wisconsin

    The US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit on Dec. 24 affirmed a district court dismissal of a suit that sought to declare Trump the winner of the presidential election in Wisconsin. The suit alleged that Wisconsin violated the Electors Clause of the US Constitution. The president claimed that guidance released by Wisconsin voting commissions facilitated voter fraud by allowing unmanned drop-off boxes and expanded absentee voting due to the pandemic. The lower court dismissed the case, citing that the time to bring suit was before the recounts and the official certification of the election. (Jurist)

  7. Pentagon ‘on alert’ for martial law

    Defense analyst William Arkin writes for Newsweek:

    Pentagon and Washington-area military leaders are on red alert, wary of what President Donald Trump might do in his remaining days in office. Though far-fetched, ranking officers have discussed what they would do if the president declared martial law. And military commands responsible for Washington DC are engaged in secret contingency planning in case the armed forces are called upon to maintain or restore civil order during the inauguration and transition period. According to one officer who spoke to Newsweek on condition of anonymity, the planning is being kept out of sight of the White House and Trump loyalists in the Pentagon for fear that it would be shut down.

  8. Government shutdown averted —back from the brink?

    Trump signed into law the COVID-19 stimulus package along with an annual spending bill, avoiding a government shutdown before a Monday night (Dec. 28) deadline. (Politico) Is this a tep back from the brink? Not so fast. Trump’s signing statement calling on Congress to meet again and take up his $2,000 demand also includes the following text:

    Likewise, the House and Senate have agreed to focus strongly on the very substantial voter fraud which took place in the November 3 Presidential election.

    The Senate will start the process for a vote that increases checks to $2,000…and starts an investigation into voter fraud.

    Continue to pay close attention.

  9. Pentagon still not cooperating in transition

    President-elect Biden on Dec. 28 called out Trump appointees at the Defense Department, saying they were putting up “roadblocks” and keeping his transition team at bay with less than a month until he (supposedly) becomes commander-in-chief.

    “Right now, we just aren’t getting all the information that we need from the outgoing administration in key national security areas,” Biden said in Delaware after a briefing with members of his national security team. “It’s nothing short, in my view, of irresponsibility.” (Politico)

  10. Will Pence blink?

    From Politico:

    Lawyers for Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) and Arizona’s 11 Republican electors revealed Tuesday that Vice President Mike Pence declined to sign onto their plan to upend Congress’ certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

    It’s the first indication that Pence is resisting some of the most extreme calls to reverse the presidential election results, thus relying on his role as the presiding officer on Jan. 6, when Congress meets to finalize Biden’s win.

    Gohmert and the Arizona electors sued Pence this week to throw out the procedures that Congress has relied upon since 1889 to count electoral votes. Instead, he said, Pence has the unilateral authority to determine which electors should be voted upon by Congress — raising the prospect that Pence would simply override the choices made by voters in states like Arizona and Pennsylvania that Biden won, to introduce President Donald Trump’s electors instead.

    But in a motion to expedite proceedings, Gohmert and the electors revealed that their lawyers had reached out to Pence’s counsel in the Office of the Vice President to attempt to reach agreement before going to court.

    “In the teleconference, Plaintiffs’ counsel made a meaningful attempt to resolve the underlying legal issues by agreement, including advising the Vice President’s counsel that Plaintiffs intended to seek immediate injunctive relief in the event the parties did not agree,” according to Gohmert’s filing. “Those discussions were not successful in reaching an agreement and this lawsuit was filed.”

    Pence still has not publicly weighed in on his plans for presiding over the Jan. 6 session, when Congress will count electoral votes expected to certify Biden’s victory. He also has not publicly commented on Trump’s repeated calls to reverse the results of the democratic process and install himself for a second term.

  11. Trump asks SCOTUS to overturn Wisconsin election results

    President Donald Trump asked the US Supreme Court Dec. 29 to overturn the Wisconsin election results in a second attempt to involve the Supreme Court in altering election results in his favor. In their petition, lawyers acting for Trump argue that anti-fraud mandates were disregarded by election officials during the Wisconsin recount.

    A similar lawsuit was rejected by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. (Jurist)

  12. Signs continue to mount of impending Trump coup

    After a federal judge dismissed his lawsuit seeking to empower Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the election in Trump’s favor, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) suggested the ruling means street violence is the only option for Trump supporters who believe the president’s baseless voter fraud claims. “Basically, in effect, the ruling would be you’ve got to go to the streets and be as violent as Antifa and BLM,” Gohmert added before being cut off by Newsmax host Emerald Robinson. The comment came as pro-Trump attorney Lin Wood predicted Pence will “face execution by firing squad” for refusing to overturn the election. (Forbes) 

    A group of 11 Republican senators has pledged to oppose certification of Trump’s election loss when it goes before Congress on Jan. 6, rejecting warnings from the GOP leadership that attempts to undermine the election or risk splintering the party. Led by Sen. Ted Cruz, they are calling for a delay of full certification, and a 10-day investigation into accusations of voter fraud. (Bloomberg)

  13. Ex-defense secretaries declare: election is over

    All 10 living former US defense secretaries declared that the presidential election is over in an open letter published in the Washington Post Jan. 3. Dick Cheney, James Mattis, Mark Esper, Leon Panetta, Donald Rumsfeld, William Cohen, Chuck Hagel, Robert Gates, William Perry and Ashton Carter state: 

    As senior Defense Department leaders have noted, “there’s no role for the US military in determining the outcome of a US election.” Efforts to involve the US armed forces in resolving election disputes would take us into dangerous, unlawful and unconstitutional territory. Civilian and military officials who direct or carry out such measures would be accountable, including potentially facing criminal penalties, for the grave consequences of their actions on our republic.

  14. Tensions with Iran escalating fastt

    On the one-year anniversary of the killing of Qasem Soleimani, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani made a speech to his cabinet in which he said of Trump: “In a few days, the life of this criminal will end and he will go to the dustbin of history.” We may hope he meant Trump’s political life.

    But days later it was confirmed by the International Atomic Energy Agency that Iran has started increasing uranium enrichment at its underground Fordo facility to 20%—far exceeding the 3.67% permitted under the 2015 nuclear deal (the approximate level needed for power generation) and a step toward the 90% needed for weapons-grade fuel. This follows through on a decision taken by the Guardians’ Council last month.

    Revolutionary Guard forces also seized a South Korean-flagged tanker carrying petrochemicals from the UAE through the Strait of Hormuz. Tehran said the the vessel was seized for polluting the Gulf with chemicals, but reports are pointing to pressure on Seoul t release frozen Iranian assets in South Korea. 

    And the Pentagon has meanwhile ordered the carrier USS Nimitz to remain in the Persian Gulf, where it has been patrolling waters since late November, reversing a recent order for it to return to its homeport of Bremerton, Wash. (Washington Times, BBC News, Reuters, Al Jazeera, AP, DW, USNI)

  15. Trump pressures Georgia officials to ‘find’ him more votes

    In a phone call Jan. 2, President Trump urged Georgia’s secretary of state Brad Raffensperger to “find 11,780 votes,” accusing him of unlawfully reporting false election results. The Washington Post released an audio recording of the entire hour-long call, as well as a transcript. Throughout the call, Trump repeatedly stated that he needed to “find” enough votes in Georgia to reverse the election results in the state, and accused Raffensperger and his legal counsel of allowing illegal election tampering. (Jurist)

  16. Iran renews Interpol request to arrest Trump

    Iran is asking Interpol to issue a “red notice” for the arrest of President Trump and 47 other US officials, citing the targeted killing a year ago of Qassem Soleimani. This is the second time Iran has asked for help in detaining the US president. (NPR)

  17. Judge rejects final Trump suit challenging Georgia results

    A federal judge denied President Trump’s latest lawsuit in Georgia on Jan. 5, removing one of the final options left to Trump for challenging his loss in the 2020 presidential election before Congress was to count the Electoral College votes the following day. (Jurist)

  18. Milley secretly secured nuclear codes in Trump endgame: book

    Explosive new details about former President Donald Trump’s actions around last year’s election and the January insurrection have been revealed in a yet-to-be-released book by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa of the Washington Post.

    Among the revelations in the book, entitled Peril, the United States’ top military officer twice called his Chinese counterpart to assure him that the two nations would not suddenly go to war. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley told Gen. Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army that the US would not strike. One call took place on Oct. 30, 2020, four days before the election that defeated Trump. The second call was on Jan. 8, 2021, just two days after the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by supporters of the outgoing chief executive.

    Milley also called the admiral overseeing the US Indo-Pacific Command, and recommended postponing upcoming military exercises. He also asked senior officers to swear an “oath” that Milley had to be involved if Trump gave an order to launch nuclear weapons, according to the book.

    Marco Rubio is now calling on President Biden to dismiss immediately General Milley, saying that he undermined the commander in chief. (PBS, AP)