COMMENTARY

Keep the leaks coming: The case against Donald Trump is being built up by Republicans' big mouths

There can be no more doubt in anyone's mind who is paying attention that a coup was plotted and nearly successful

By Heather Digby Parton

Published April 27, 2022 9:56AM (EDT)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) address reporters outside the White House after their Oval Office meeting with President Joe Biden on May 12, 2021. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) address reporters outside the White House after their Oval Office meeting with President Joe Biden on May 12, 2021. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

I've lost count of how many books have been published at this point about Donald Trump's final days, but I'm glad that the staggered release of them has helped to keep the event fresh in people's minds as each one offers up something that we didn't know before. With the January 6th Committee selectively leaking information and the prospect of public hearings at some point in the near future, it's still possible that the whole thing won't be completely swept under the rug before the election in the fall.

A few days ago, Politico's Kyle Cheney posted a useful overview of just some of what we have learned so far. We know that Trump went to great lengths in the days and weeks after the election to bully, coerce, strong arm and intimidate local and state officials in all the battleground states to illegally overturn the election results. He pushed the Department of Justice to declare the election results were tainted and only moved on when it became clear that they would all resign in protest if he installed a willing toady who would carry it out. And his legal team of fringe weirdos led by Rudy Giuliani descended upon courthouses in the targeted states with wild accusations of voter fraud that were all denied, many of them by judges Trump himself appointed.

Throughout this period, various conspiracy nuts, hucksters, crackpots and grifters were running in and out of the White House with ludicrous schemes, pushing conspiracy theories. On Tuesday, CNN published texts from one of them, an obscure congressman from Pennsylvania named Scott Perry, a former Army General like fellow weirdo Michael Flynn who was heavily involved in all aspects of the attempted coup. Among Perry's texts were messages to Chief of Staff Mark Meadows accusing CIA director Gina Haspel of being in cahoots with "the Brits" to manipulate the voting machines and telling him the "DNI needs to be tasked to audit their overseas accounts at CIA - and their National Endowment for Democracy. " (How many of these kooky Generals are there?)

RELATED: Newly revealed Mark Meadows texts appear to contradict denials by Marjorie Taylor Greene, Rick Perry

When none of Giuliani's legal claims came to fruition, Trump enlisted the help of a legal quack named John Eastman who devised a plan to have Republican-run states send alternate slates of electors and then have Vice President Mike Pence throw out the electoral votes from those states to dishonestly invoke the "contingent election process" which would result in Trump being elected because there are currently more GOP state delegations than Democratic ones.

And that's just for starters.


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January 6th Committee member Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md, has said in recent days that "six of the most chilling words in U.S. history" were from Mike Pence, as first reported by Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker in their book "I Alone Can Fix It."

"I'm not getting in that car."

Moments after Pence was whisked into an underground parking garage to escape the rioters and the Secret Service wanted to take him out of the building, he refused. The book quotes him saying this to Tim Giebels, his lead special agent:

"I'm not getting in the car, Tim. I trust you, Tim, but you're not driving the car.If I get in that vehicle, you guys are taking off. I'm not getting in the car."

According to the Washington Post, Pence's chief of staff Marc Short tried to say that he just didn't want global adversaries to see the image of him driving away from the Capitol but that doesn't explain why he would imply that he didn't trust the Secret Service. At the same time, his national security adviser, Keith Kellogg, who was in the White House talking to a Secret Service agent named Tony Ornato who was so close to Trump that he had been given a White House adviser role, an unprecedented step for anyone from that agency, which is supposed to be non-partisan. Ornato said they were going to move Pence to Andrews Air Force base to which Kellog replied, "You can't do that, Tony. Leave him where he's at. He's got a job to do. I know you guys too well. You'll fly him to Alaska if you have a chance. Don't do it."

Raskin believes, and it seems pretty obvious, that they wanted to get him out of there so he couldn't do that job, which was to oversee the certification of the electoral college votes.

If that doesn't add up to an attempted coup, I don't know what does.

RELATED: Kevin McCarthy's anti-democratic demise: How Donald Trump successfully sabotaged the modern GOP

The latest book, "This Will Pass" by New York Times reporters Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns, has not been released yet and with the exception of a couple of previewed excerpts, they have been promoting the book by releasing audiotapes of the Republican leadership in the days after the January 6th insurrection. These recordings, which have been dribbled out on a daily basis are perversely damaging to the House Minority Leader and hopeful next Speaker, not because they show him backing the coup attempt but rather the opposite. In today's GOP, if you are shown to have had the least bit of conscience and concern about what took place on January 6th, you are considered to be untrustworthy (or "untrustable" as McCarthy once famously said.)

These audio recordings of calls with House GOP leadership reveal McCarthy being horrified by Trump's behavior to the point at which he even said "I've had it with this guy" and indicated that he thought Trump should resign rather than be impeached. He also had grave concerns about the behavior of members of his own caucus, even wishing that Twitter would ban some of them from posting.

RELATED: Carlson attacks Democratic "puppet" Kevin McCarthy for worrying Republicans would "incite violence"

Martin and Burns also report that late on January 6th Mitch McConnell said he was "exhilarated" because he assumed the insurrection meant the final ending of the Trump phenomenon. He told Martin that Trump "put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger, it couldn't have happened at a better time." He even asked him if he'd heard anything about the 25th Amendment.


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How this plays out politically is anyone's guess but what it does show is that the GOP leadership knew exactly what Trump did that day and there was a moment in time when they thought it was the end of him — and they were happy about it.

That didn't last, of course.

We don't know if there will be any more details to come out in reporting or any more shoes to drop in the investigation or the upcoming hearings that will change the trajectory of the upcoming election. But there shouldn't have to be. We know everything we need to know. There can be no more doubt in anyone's mind who is paying attention that a coup was plotted and very nearly successful. The only question is if enough people care that American democracy is on life support to keep the people who planned it (or stood by while it was happening) from regaining power in spite of it.


Heather Digby Parton

Heather Digby Parton, also known as "Digby," is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

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Big Lie Capitol Riot Commentary Donald Trump Elections 2020 Jan. 6 Kevin Mccarthy Mike Pence Trump's Coup