Ex-Trump aide Peter Navarro says 100 House members were "ready" to carry out election coup

Coup plot called "a well thought-out plan based on sound, constitutional law and existing legislative precedent"

By Jon Skolnik

Published January 4, 2022 4:04PM (EST)

U.S. President Donald Trump and White House Trade Adviser Peter Navarro check out the new Endurance all-electric pickup truck on the south lawn of the White House on September 28, 2020 in Washington, DC. They bought the old GM Lordstown plant in Ohio to build the Endurance all-electric pickup truck, inside those four wheels are electric motors similar to electric scooters. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump and White House Trade Adviser Peter Navarro check out the new Endurance all-electric pickup truck on the south lawn of the White House on September 28, 2020 in Washington, DC. They bought the old GM Lordstown plant in Ohio to build the Endurance all-electric pickup truck, inside those four wheels are electric motors similar to electric scooters. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

In the year since last Jan. 6, we've heard numerous accounts of unsuccessful "coup plots" allegedly or reportedly devised by Donald Trump's allies and followers. But this week, in an interview with Rolling Stone, former White House adviser Peter Navarro revealed a scheme that, by his account, nearly worked to keep the former president in office. 

Although officially a Trump adviser on trade and economic issues, Navarro has become a leading promoter of Trump's grandiose claims that the 2020 election was "stolen" through widespread voter fraud. 

RELATED: 6 ways to overturn an election, according to Team Trump memos

Following Trump's defeat in November of that year, Navarro told Rolling Stone, the adviser did "research" on how Trump could be legally and rightfully reinstalled — at least in Navarro's mind — for a second term. 

That research apparently laid the foundation for the "Green Bay Sweep," an ambitious scheme that would have required the cooperation of former Vice President Mike Pence and every Republican member of the House of Representatives. During the certification of electoral votes on Jan. 6, Pence would "provide a public forum" in which grievances and complaints about "fraud and election irregularities could be aired in 24-hours of televised hearings to the American public."


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Once Congress had created a legal basis for challenging the Electoral College votes, in Navarro's narrative, there would have then been an unspecified "mechanism" — definitely not mentioned in the Constitution — "that would allow those likely illegal [Electoral College] votes to be sent back to the states for further review."

At this juncture, Navarro said, at least some Republican-dominated states would "withdraw any certification" of their electoral votes, making an Electoral College majority impossible. That would have thrown the presidential election into the House — and that part actually is in the Constitution — with each state's delegation casting one vote. Since Republicans controlled more states than Democrats, Trump would presumably have been "elected" to a second term. 

RELATED: No, Pence can't start a coup: Despite Trump's bullying, VP has no power to "reject" Joe Biden's win

"My role in the whole thing was basically to provide Congress, via my reports, the analytical material they needed to actually make the challenges," Navarro explained. "And the president himself had distributed Volume One of the report to every member of the House and Senate a week or so earlier.

"It's a well thought-out plan based on sound, constitutional law and existing legislative precedent. And all it required was peace and calm on Capitol Hill for it to unfold," he added.

Navarro's "well thought-out plan" fell apart when Pence refused to object to the electoral results, after various legal experts made clear that the vice president's constitutionally-mandated role is ceremonial: He or she supervises the vote count, and nothing more.  

The scheme, which allegedly had the support of 100 members of Congress, was originally concocted by Steve Bannon, who was indicted for contempt of Congress in November after refusing to comply with a subpoena issued by the House committee investigating the Capitol riot. 

RELATED: Steve Bannon's criminal indictment is the best thing that's ever happened to him

In recent months, the committee's findings have broadly indicated that Trump incited the Capitol insurrection. Navarro claimed, however, that the former president never wanted a violent coup carried out in his name. "My premise," he explained, "is that President Trump wanted only peace and calm so that we could meticulously implement the Green Bay Packers Sweep play."

In a more entrepreneurial vein, Navarro this week unveiled an "election fraud" board game of his own design, complete with designated "safe spaces" and "fake news" cards. Its retail price is $49.95.

"Want to know how the Democrats stole the 2020 election? Play the game," he said in a promotional video. "Want to know how Tony Fauci likely helped create a deadly virus in a communist Chinese bioweapons lab? Play the game. Want to get to the bottom of the Russia collusion hoax? Yep. Play the game."


Jon Skolnik

Jon Skolnik is a staff writer at Salon. His work has appeared in Current Affairs, The Baffler, and The New York Daily News.

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