Contingency planning for military-style commando action to arrest Trump–Part One

Preliminary Draft–sources being checked


1) Peggy Noonan, “Liz Cheney Shows What Leadership Looks Like; The sooner Republicans demystify Donald Trump, the better for them and for the country, Wall Street Journal, January 14, 2021 (6:23 pm ET).

2) David Ignatius, “Our national security apparatus failed last week. Officials hope it will be ready for Inauguration Day.” Washington Post, January 14, 2021 (4:57 p.m. EST).

One can only speculate as whether military or public order officials are making contingency plans to carry out a commando-style operation to arrest Donald Trump and remove him from power.

There are strong considerations that suggest they should be making contingency plans for conducting such an operation.

Donald Trump, even after the invasion of the Capitol and insurrection on Wednesday, January 6, 2020, appears to be continuing his attempted coup de’ètat. He has made statements praising the insurrectionists who invaded the Capitol on Wednesday, killing a Capitol policeman and causing the deaths of five other individuals, including a second Capitol policeman who committed suicide after the invasion.

Trump and his co-conspirators appear to be encouraging “demonstrations” or the formation of right-wing insurrectionist  mobs which may carry out further attacks on state capitols, on the U.S. Capitol, and on the Inauguration ceremony to swear in Joe Biden on January 20.  Trump’s continued repetition of the “big lie” that he won the November election and that evil people are stealing it from him, amounts, in the current circumstances, to continued incitement to violence.

After certain mob elements were apparently intended to target Vice-President Mike Pence, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and other leaders who have opposed Trump’s attempted coup, it does not strain credulity to imagine that some of those calling for further action in Washington on January 20, or January 17, could attempt to assassinate Jose Biden, Kamala Harris,  and /or other leaders.

An explosion like the one in Nashville on December 26, 2020 in Washington, or 10 such explosions across the country, could create the kind of chaos in which an assassination attempt could be feasible.

We still do not have authoritative answers regarding the individual who is assumed to have acted alone in Nashville, or the results of an exhaustive investigation including a review of his internet and other communications. We cannot assume, without such an inquiry and the publication of its findings, that this individual operated alone. To cite but one fact: It does not seen plausible that he parked his truck at 1:22 a.m., then sat in the truck for five hours before detonating it at 6:30 a.m. Nor do we have an explanation of why a key AT&T communications hub was the apparent target.

The follow-up of the Nashville bombing by the FBI and other police officials has not credibly been made public, in a manner similar to the lack of public information released regarding the investigation of the assassination of Michael Reinoehl near Seattle on September 3, 2020–in which both Trump and Attorney General William Barr seem to have been involved.

There are a number of unexplained decisions that suggest the security arrangements for the defense of the Capitol on January 6 were deliberately ineffective in dealing with the mob that assaulted the Capitol. There are no good explanations for why sufficient forces were not in place before the riot, or for why reinforcements were so slow to materialize. We should bear in mind that top officials at the Pentagon were replaced by Trump, including Secretary of Defencse Mark Esper, and that DHS officials were also replaced by Trump loyalists. The explanations from Trump officials at the Defense Department, and even the agent in charge of the FBI in Washington, are put forward with the expectation that we will assume these officials are acting in good faith.

It is manifest, however, that Trump administration officials have not been acting in good faith.

The acting FBI official in D.C. told the press a couple of days ago that they had no warning of an unusual threat. On January 12, we learned that a specific intelligence warning from an FBI office in Norfolk, Virginia was briefed to tap FBI officials in D.C. on January 5.

In short, the FBI lied about there not having been a warning. As a result, nothing the FBI says out of the Washington office should be taken at face value. On January 12, the agent in charge essentially stone-walled in appearing to respond to reporters’ questions at a press conference.

In sum, Trump continues to lead or encourage an ongoing attempted coup d’état. There is no other way to read his praise for the rioters, his continued assertion that the election was stolen and that he won, and his failure to denounce those who invaded the Capitol. His scripted statement that there would be a new administration on January 20 and that he would be working to assure a smooth transition fooled no one, least of all his cult supporters.

Someone is mobilizing and coordinating the demonstrations across the country that are planned for January 20. Somehow, we are expected to believe that with all of the surveillance capabilities of the U.S. government, officials do not know who is coordinating things, and is powerless to intervene to bring the ongoing cup attempt to a halt.

Trump continues to command the military, the Capitol police, and other federal public order forces responsible for security at the inauguration, which is coordinated by the Secret Service which he also commands. He commands the forces responsible for safeguarding the Inauguration ceremony, and the security of Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi, and other political leaders.

The clear goals of Trump’s attempted coup has been to prevent Joe Biden from assuming office on January 20. He has resorted to increasingly desperate and violent means in seeking to block Biden from becoming President.

The coup plotters and their mobs clearly could be planning the assassination of Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and/or others on January 20. Younger citizens may not imagine such terrible political assassinations are possible, but they are, a fact to which but anyone who recalls the assassinations of John F. Kennedy (1963), Martin Luther King, Jr.(1968), and Bobby Kennedy (1968) can readily attest.

Part Two (forthcoming)

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.