Trump’s blatant assaults on democracy continue (Updated)

Updated September 15, 2020

The American people have been pummeled by Donald Trump’s outrages, and lethal incompetence, for almost four years. Now it is obvious that he will tell any lie, violate any law, and commit any outrage in order to stay in power beyond January 20, 2021.

The American people are worn down, beaten down. Many are discouraged, and some are bordering on hopelessness.

Will they find the energy and the hope necessary to act effectively to remove Trump?

Trump’s strategy appears to be to suppress the vote, create massive confusion around the electoral process, and to rely on Russian interference in the elections in order to cling to power.

In the period around the elections and the tabulation of their results, we can count on the mobilization of white armed “militias” to suppress voting, and to create disturbances as they have in Portland and other cities.  There is also a strong possibility that Trump may deploy federal agents and National Guard units to the cities where disturbances occur.


1) Morgan Chalfant, “Trump says he would put down riots on election night ‘very quickly’,” The Hill, September 11, 2020 (11:57 AM EDT).

2) Timothy Johnson, “Roger Stone calls for Trump to seize total power if he loses the election; Stone also said federal authorities should seize all Nevada ballots, federal agents and GOP state officials should “physically” block voting, that Trump should nationalize police forces, and that Trump should order widespread arrests,” Media Matters, September 11, 2020 (2:11 p.m. EDT).

3) Yasmeen Abutaleb, Lena H. Sun, Josh Dawsey and Rosalind S. Helderman, “Top Trump health appointee Michael Caputo warns of armed insurrection after election,” Washington Posrt, September 14, 2020 at 8:20 p.m. EDT).

The Post authors report:

“(Caputo) also predicted that Trump would win the election but that Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, would refuse to concede. “And when Donald Trump refuses to stand down at the inauguration, the shooting will begin,” he warned in the video. “The drills that you’ve seen are nothing. If you carry guns, buy ammunition, ladies and gentlemen, because it’s going to be hard to get.”

The interesting thing to note about the Stone and Caputo quotes is that these ideas seem to be in the air at the White House. Stone, a convicted felon pardoned by Trump who was in the middle of the Russian connection, is an extremely close confident of Trump. (Caputo also has a Russian connection.) Moreover, Trump is notorious for projecting his own thoughts onto others. Consequently, it is fair to say that Trump is probably thinking about transition scenarios where armed force is brought to bear.

In short, he appears willing to go to any length to ensure that if he loses the election the Republicans under his leadership will successfully seize and hold on to power.

Many of our most respected leaders and op-ed columnists have been issuing similar warnings.

That could never happen in America, many will say. Many in Germany in 1932 said the same thing, despite Adolf Hitler’s attempted coup in Bavaria in 1923.

Why could that never happen in America?

Trump has been practicing many of the moves that would be necessary for a seizure of power in circumstances such as those suggested above.


1) “Raw Power: Only a threat of immediate impeachment can constrain Trump,” The Trenchant Observer, August 20, 2020.

2) “Trump’s creeping coup d’état: Democrats must get ready to impeach again (Part I),” The Trenchant Observer, July 25, 2020.

3) “Trump’s creeping coup d’état: Democrats must get ready to impeach again (Part II),” The Trenchant Observer, July 27, 2020.

Who would defend the Constitution and the Republic?

Would the Republicans, who have quietly accepted every constitutional outrage Trump has committed, act to defend the Rule of Law?

This is not likely. They have become complicit in Trump’s crimes and abuses of power. If they themselves have not joined the Cult of Trump, they have at least become willing Collaborators.

So, are these views just the overwrought impressions of an American participant in and observer of political developments in the U.S.?

To answer that question, we should listen to the opinions of some of the sharpest foreign observers of the American political scene.

See, e.g.,

1) Jonathan Freedland, “The danger is now clear: Trump is destroying democracy in broad daylight; More and more, the president voices contempt for the voting process; Imagine what he’d do if re-elected,” The Guardian, September 4, 2020 (16.57 BST).

2) Luís Bassetts, “Un bolchevique en la Casa Blanca; Los reiterados abusos de poder de Trump revelan un uso de las instituciones como si fueran su propiedad privada, con la exclusión absoluta de la idea de una alternancia,” El País, 3 de Septiembre 2020 (00:30).

The Trenchant Observer

About the Author

James Rowles
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by James Rowles (aka "The Observer"), an author and international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. Dr. Rowles is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States OAS), in Wasington, D.C., , where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, Dr. Rowles has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. Dr. Rowles speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.=LL.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, Dr. Rowles has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on some the best articles that have appeared in the blog.