Growing alarm over ongoing Trump coup

What the nation’s leading columnists, and others, have been thinking for many months, if not years, is now being said out loud. As the bullet train of the presidential election speeds toward election day on November 3, and President Donald Trump increasingly manifests his intention to hang on to power no matter what tre results of the election may be, columnists and others are ringing the alarm: We are at DEFCON 1 and, metaphorically speaking, the Reichstag is burning.


(1) Roger Cohen, “Trump’s Corona Coronation; ‘There won’t be a transfer, frankly. There will be a continuation.’ How could the president make his intentions any clearer?” New Ork Times, September 25, 2025.

Cohen wrires,

“There won’t be a transfer, frankly. There will be a continuation.” That’s President Putin — I’m sorry, I mean President Trump — declining to assure Americans of a peaceful transfer of power after the November election. Does it get any clearer than that?

Trump, in the fog of a pandemic, has opted for chaos. If he can generate enough, he figures, the election results can be disputed, and a post-Ginsburg Supreme Court will hand him victory. “The only way we’re going to lose this election is if the election is rigged,” he says.

If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck. The duck is called a Trump power grab.

(2) Dana Milbank, “This is not a drill. The Reichstag is burning,” Wahington Post, September 25, 2020 (2:14 p.m. EDT).

Milbank quotes Timothy Snyder, author of On Tyranny: Tweny lessons from the Twentieth Century, as follows:

“It’s important not to talk about this as just an election,” Snyder said. “It’s an election surrounded by the authoritarian language of a coup d’etat. The opposition has to win the election and it has to win the aftermath of the election.”
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If not? There won’t be another “normal” election for some time, he said.

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.