An Attempted Coup D’état by FBI Trumpland?

by on November 5, 2016 · 27 comments

in American Empire, Civil Rights, Election, Homelessness, Media, Organizing, Politics

american-flag-upsideHearing all the recent news accounts about how elements in the highest reaches of our top national law enforcement agency – the FBI – have worked to flip the Presidential election in Donald Trump’s favor, made me pull up a definition of “coup d’etat“.

Wow, you might say, how extreme, how hyperbolic – how over the top you’re getting these last few days of the election campaign.

But isn’t it a significant intervention into this election when James Comey, the head of the FBI, announces that the agency is reopening its investigation into a new batch of emails that may involve Hillary Clinton – a bombshell meant to disparage her certainly? And isn’t it intervention when sources within the FBI leak damaging and false information about Clinton to both right-wing media and the Trump campaign?

And when an anchor and reporter on Fox News announced that according to his FBI “sources”, Clinton is likely to be criminally indicted, and this is supposedly confirmed by others close to the agency, and when Trump surrogate and former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani brags that the Trump campaign knew all about this -including the Comey letter to Congress – weeks before it was made public – this in intervention.

Now all this was retracted and apologies made by the Fox reporter, but the damage to Clinton was done.

So, is all of this an attempted coup d’etat by FBI agents immersed in Trumpland to throw the election to their favorite candidate?

Here it is, here’s the definition, according to Merriam-Webster – a full definition of coup d’état:

a sudden decisive exercise of force in politics; especially :  the violent overthrow or alteration of an existing government by a small group

Now, of course, there hasn’t been any “violent overthrow”of the government – but look at the other part of the definition – the “alteration of an existing government by a small group“.

The effort by what some call “the fifth column” – those Trump supporters within the FBI – if they had been successful in causing Hillary Clinton to lose the election, an election that most polls and pundits say she will win – certainly that would have been a coup d’etat.

The top national police and law enforcement agency in America steps in and causes an “alteration” to an otherwise peaceful and legal transition of government – “an existing government”. And certainly, this small group – this cabal of FBI agents, investigators and whomever who have been leaking or trying to leak damaging information to Fox News and other reporters – stuff they hope will spin the Clinton campaign off its tracks – certainly they qualify as a “small group”.

So, there you have it. If they had succeeded in their apparent goals, derail the election away from the first woman president,- or if they are successful – this fifth column, this platoon of palace guards would have carried out a virtual coup d’etat.

Of course, there has been pushback from all corners of these efforts to intervene in the election. The Fox News reporter, Bret Baier , who “broke” the story about how the FBI was about to indict Clinton, did a full retraction with apology on the air, Friday. Rudy backtracked on his claims – or some of them.

And now we’re hearing about “revolution” and “open revolts” inside the FBI – turmoil that has been going on for months, in fact, ever since FBI head James Comey decided to end the investigation into Clinton’s emails. This decision so enraged the Clinton-haters within the agency, that these rogue, rebellious agents began their efforts to undermine the election results.

With their leaks, their surreptitious disclosures to reporters and members of the Trump campaign (Rudy), their falsehoods, their use of a white-supremacist author’s book about the Clintons as a basis to open an investigation into the Clinton Foundation, this clique broke Department rules and government laws.

This discredited book, Clinton Cash, by Peter Schweizer, again, is what these rogue agents based their Hillary Clinton / Clinton Foundation investigation on. And who is Schweizer? He is the president of the Government Accountability Institute, an organization co-founded and chaired by Steve Bannon, the CEO of the Trump campaign. Bannon ran the white nationalist Brietbart News before he moved over to the campaign.

These Trump supporters within the FBI have broken into our Presidential election campaign and are attempting to influence its outcome.

This, by definition, is at least an attempt at a coup.

We’re not the only ones raising the question of a coup. Mark Summer, writing at Daily Kos  (11/4/16) called it this way:

In some ways, the attempt of a group inside the FBI to swing the election may be the closest thing to a coup attempt the US has experienced—a faction inside the government using its power and assumed knowledge in an attempt to spread election-altering propaganda. But in even more ways, it’s simply pitiful.

Summer does conclude:

If the revolt inside the FBI is an attempted coup, it’s a failed coup. After a momentary jiggle, the polls are showing that voters have absorbed, and are rejecting, the flurry of false information thrown off by the Trump-at-all-cost faction within the FBI.

The end result of the fact-twisting and rumor-mongering doesn’t look to be overturning the election, but it may well be overturning the FBI and giving it a good shake.

Steven Rosenfeld at AlterNet titled his Nov. 4th piece, “Did Rogue FBI Agents Attempt Presidential Election Coup by Reopening the Clinton Email Investigation?

Rosenfeld asks:

Did Trump allies inside the FBI attempt a coup on the eve of the 2016 presidential election?

That is the latest question that comes as new details emerged Friday, following confirmation of FBI agents’ illegal leaks about the Hillary Clinton email investigation, and the FBI director’s similarly illegal interference in the election by revealing the FBI wanted to reopen its probe.

His rather mild conclusion is still worth considering:

… it is clear that the FBI is breaking the law by agents talking about ongoing investigations and its director interfering in a presidential election. And … there are open lines between the New York City bureau and the Trump campaign.

The only question is, did Giuliani push his allies inside the FBI to force Comey’s hand? Or did Hillary-hating agents act on their own to please the Trump campaign and get even with their Washington-based director who shut down their investigation last summer? Either way, it is an appalling scenario that shows the most egregious abuses of power.

Also on Friday, the 4th, Michael Tomasky at The Daily Beast , asked, “What if FBI Rogues Subvert the Election?” Tomasky details how there’s been a strong anti-Clinton animosity inside the bureau going way back to the 1990s. He explains that the rogue agents were upset with Comey’s decision not to move against Hillary on the emails:

It’s [the FBI agents] their job as agents to accept that decision. They’re not supposed to be in revolt against their superior’s edict, and they’re certainly not supposed to try to tip a presidential election.

But this is exactly what they’re doing.

Then in the wee hours of Saturday, November 5th, Whitney Snyder, Editorial Director at The Huffington Post,  published this article, “It Sure Looks Like FBI Renegades Are Trying To Swing The Presidential Election“. Snyder observes:

Three days before a historic election, a disturbing twist has emerged: the possibility that agents in the country’s preeminent investigative service are attempting to swing the outcome.

Snyder finds this episode of the election campaign “one of the most unsettling developments yet”, and that’s saying a lot, considering what has come down over these last 500 plus days of the campaign. If Clinton wins, he stills a troubling future.

While Comey’s decision to write to Congress less than two weeks before the election was misguided and unnerving, it’s the possibility of a revenge-seeking shadow element within the agency that is much more troubling. That these investigators may have forced Comey’s hand suggests that they constitute a threat that will outlast the election.

Even if Clinton wins, she will oversee an FBI employing at least a small number of agents who appear to have meddled in an election. The rot will persist.

The FBI’s history is littered with unsavory acts ? from blackmailing Martin Luther King Jr. to eavesdropping on at least 12 Supreme Court justices. The decision by some of its agents to intervene in the most high-stakes election in generations joins that odious list.

In a campaign that has seen the steady erosion of longstanding political norms, this is one of the most unsettling developments yet.

Mike Whitney at CounterPunch takes it further:

By inserting himself into the democratic process, Comey has ignored traditional protocols for postponing such announcements 60-days prior to an election, shrugged off the counsel of his bosses at the DOJ, and tilted the election in Trump’s favor.

His action is as close to a coup d’état as anything we’ve seen in the U.S. since the Supreme Court stopped the counting of ballots in Florida in 2000 handing the election to George W. Bush.

It’s clear now that these leaks – and who knows what else now – by these FBI agents is the worst abuse of the FBI and its resources since the time of Richard Nixon and his Attorney General John Mitchell, when Nixon was able to use the FBI in abusing his perceived opponents, those on the infamous Nixon “Enemies List”.

Dan Roberts, writing from Washington for The Guardian , asks “Will Hillary Clinton lose the election because of the FBI email investigation?”  He details and corroborates that Clinton has already suffered because of the falsehoods leaked by the rebel FBI agents and the damaging innuendos in Comey’s letter.

Pollster Gary Langer stated:

“About a third of likely voters say they are less likely to support Clinton given FBI director James Comey’s disclosure. Given other considerations, 63% say it makes no difference.”

It was Wayne Barrett in The Daily Beast  who began the journalistic pushback with his initial disclosures about the fifth columnists within the New York office of the FBI and Giuliani’s close ties to them.This is a must read.

Even Bill Mahear, the HBO host and comedian silenced the laughter on his show Friday night. He became very serious in a memorable HBO moment, when he said his show is a comedy but that the political campaign before Election Day was not funny.  Maher railed about FBI involvement in the election, and called it “fascism”. “It’s a coup!,” he exclaimed while discussing what the FBI was doing; it’s “a slow-moving right-wing coup” by Republicans in an illegal effort to elect Trump. Maher also described Trump as a “sociopath,” “orange Hitler” and a “useful idiot of the Russians.”

This is all “America’s descent into Banana Republican-ism“, says Michael Cohen at the Boston Globe

We’re not there yet, you may sigh. So, we have nothing to fear, right? The illegal efforts to alter the election by this small group of agents has been blocked, hasn’t it? And aren’t there now Congressional calls for investigations into just what Rudy Guliani knew about the “bombshell 2 weeks before it became public?

Yet, Trump is still out there – he was out there Friday staging campaign rallies in three different states. He is still claiming that Hillary is under investigation by the FBI and will soon be indicted. His crowds still roar back in approval.

Who’s to stop him? It’s not like other Republicans have rejected these efforts by the roguesters within the FBI. Just on Wednesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) urged Director Comey to disclose publicly if he finds a “smoking gun” in the newly discovered batch of emails related to Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. TPM

The big corporate media? After much of this big news story broke in places like The Daily Beast and on MSNBC on Thursday, there hasn’t been one sufficient report of this monster of a story – this scandal about FBI agents’ attempts to intercede in the election – since in either the Los Angeles Times or the San Diego Union-Tribune over the last two days. The U-T did print a short article about Giuliani denials.

Where’s the outrage about an attempted coup if many Americans aren’t aware of it?

But the damage has been done, as Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway glibly told Brian Williams on msnbc, the damage has been done.

“If you’re not scared to death about what’s happening in America right now, you’re not paying attention.”

Michael Cohen, over at the Boston Globe, expressed it best:

And what if Clinton wins? Democracy is likely to find itself under continued assault. Republicans in the Senate are now making clear that they have no intention of even allowing a vote on a Supreme Court justice pick made by Hillary Clinton. The GOP has gone from saying they won’t allow a vote on Merrick Garland before this election to saying they won’t fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court until a Republican is in the White House.

Some Republicans are floating the idea of impeaching Clinton before she’s even been elected president. Others are talking about trying her for treason and executing her. These are stunning, never before seen attacks on our democracy. And, increasingly, they are barely getting covered by major media news outlets, which seem more inclined to chase their own tails on the Clinton e-mail story.

I’m not sure what more evidence one needs to see that we have entered a very dark and dangerous place in this country, in which one political party has now repeatedly demonstrated that it has no interest in maintaining even a fig leaf of adherence to long-standing political norms or ensuring the functioning of democratic governance.

If you’re not scared to death about what’s happening in America right now, you’re not paying attention. Like no other time in modern history, this country and its most basic political institutions are at risk. And like no other time in history, the will of the American people is the only thing standing in the way of a dark and undemocratic future for this country.

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Been There November 5, 2016 at 2:10 pm

Or, perhaps, it is a deliberate attempt to deny Clinton the election as the Powers-That-Be have deemed her as too flawed, with too much of the dirty business known, to be able to keep the Ship of State, and thus Corporate America, upright. So, if this is the case, these same Powers can cut a deal with Trump to carry the water for them.


Judi November 5, 2016 at 5:05 pm

No question in my mind that you are correct. But it will
Never be proven


fstued November 5, 2016 at 5:48 pm

Pretty scary stuff. I have trouble believing the FBI may be that crooked. But I believe it. There use to be some kind of moral compass or so it seemed in government. NIxon’s Saturday night massacre is a classic example of some morals in government. People quit when they where told to do things that were in there mind illegal and immoral. They said no. What happened to up holding the Constitution.
Thanks Frank Good article MAher certainly did rant last night but I think he was right on.


Rick Jahnkow November 5, 2016 at 6:19 pm

Not to downplay the seriousness of FBI intervention here, but Clinton and the Democratic Party establishment performed their own intra-party coup to get her nominated. And because she was the most flawed candidate that the Dems could nominate, they brought much of this on themselves. Even if she is still elected, she is going to be confronted by an ongoing effort by Republicans’ to block her every move–essentially a continuous coup. It will be far worse than what Obama had to face, and we’ll all suffer for it.


Geoff Page November 5, 2016 at 8:25 pm

Well said, Frank. When this is all over and Hillary is in office, we’ll need some lengths of piano wire and some stout lamp posts that can carry the weight of these bags of shit. The FBI has always been a problem, maybe this will be enough to trigger a full scale investigation of the agency once she is in office. fstued commented that they had a hard time believing the FBI could be that crooked but I don’t.

The FBI’s history falls right in line with this. The FBI has always been our internal spy agency, it owes its very existence to the trove of secrets and dirty laundry is has accumulated on everyone for decades. No one, even powerful politicians, has ever wanted to challenge them because everyone has secrets they don’t want exposed. But, I’m hopeful that their power has waned thanks to the internet. Now, no one’s secrets are safe and the FBI doesn’t have exclusive ownership of everyone’s secrets.

But I agree wholeheartedly with your piece, what they have done is treasonous and I really hope we win this election so there might be some accountability. I was confident that Hillary would win until yesterday afternoon when I remembered that this country elected George Bush, not once but twice. I sincerely hope this country isn’t stupid enough to elect a man who couldn’t carry the water of the worst President it elected since Nixon, Trump makes George Bush look good. That is scary.


John Lawrence November 6, 2016 at 7:34 am

Republicans long ago have violated all the usual norms starting with Newt Gingrich. They’ll do anything to get their way. This nation has already descended into the new Dark Ages. It’ll get even worse if Trump is elected. Then we’ll only have Paul Ryan to exercise some restraint on the kleptocracy.


mjt November 6, 2016 at 7:52 am

I find it hard to believe that Comey is acting on his own. Maybe he is a front man for the Pentagon.

Send a fly over to the Admirals conference room and let us know.


bob dorn November 6, 2016 at 9:11 am

Bless Bill Maher (and you, Frank) for that phrase , “a slow-moving coup d’etat.”
It does look like it’s underway, though. The major concern might seem to be:
intimidation at the polls.
I doubt the gunners will descend on the precincts — though maybe in open carry
states they will (but in too few numbers to effect the elections).
What happens if and when Trump loses is when we’ll know if the country can
hold together. Thugs with guns demonstrating could tell us something. Demands
to recount the votes could, too, and so will white thugs in blue suits mounting
impreachment votes, and law enforcement lifers refusing to fire on white militias
(think Bundy’s) when they take over federal lands for training centers.
It’s not too late for people to read history. Not yet.


John Lawrence November 6, 2016 at 10:27 am

After the election, if Hillary wins, you can count on investigations/impeachment ad infinitum as well as no Senate confirmations to the Supreme Court or anything else on the Dems’ platform that requires Congress to act. Is that enough for a revolution?


Doug Porter November 6, 2016 at 10:37 am

I’d rather have investigations than seeing busloads of my neighbors being forcibly deported.
I rather have controversy than cutting all spending on renewable energy and throwing out the Paris accords (I know, a baby step).
I’d rather have impeachment hearings than seeing a conservative supreme court undo Roe v Wade and undo the right to marry.
Yes, it will suck if Hillary wins. Do you really think the American people will be better off with the alternative?


John Lawrence November 6, 2016 at 11:21 am

Absolutely not. It would be even worse if Trump wins. The long American nightmare has just begun.


fstued November 7, 2016 at 8:15 am

I think Hilary will be pretty good. She certainlyhas more experience on the world stage than anyone ever pretty much. And she knows politics and its inner workings. She may have some slim on her but she has been working in Washington for ever. So that is expected.
At this point it wouldbe nice to see a senate and house that can work with the President but I don’t see that happening anytime soon So I guess it is gridlock for a few more years.


Jan Michael Sauer November 6, 2016 at 11:05 am

Comey knows exactly what he is doing. If you cut off Clinton’s coattails then you minimize the odds of losing your Senate majority. Several Senate races are toss-ups right now. Plus, Nate Silver has Hillary one state away from losing the election. Republicans have done everything that they can to keep people of color and other groups from voting and have spent years damaging Hillary’s reputation. This is their strategy to win elections. James Comey is an evil scumbag.


Sharon Kramer November 6, 2016 at 5:54 pm

Do you think that maybe Comey had to inform Congress b/c he knew it was going to be leaked out of NY that a new cache’ of emails had been found? Think how bad that would have looked if the leak hit the media and he hadn’t said anything. The Trump crowd would have had a heyday of “proof” that the FBI was hiding that they were again investigating.

No matter who wins on Tues, I think Comey is going to come out the loser. If HRC wins (which I think she will), the right is going to scream it’s b/c Comey didn’t prosecute. If HRC loses, the left is going to scream it’s b/c he let it be known the investigation was back on just days b/f the election.


Bearded OBcean November 7, 2016 at 9:20 am

This is all a bunch of feather ruffling. We are faced with two terrible candidates of our own choosing. Democrats willingly chose someone under active investigation by the FBI. Anything after that is spilled milk. Republicans chose a narcissistic bully with a penchant for race baiting. God help us all.


Frank Gormlie November 7, 2016 at 11:37 am

Sorry ol bearded one, you are wrong. There is no FBI investigation and to continue to say that is a bald faced lie.


Bearded OBcean November 7, 2016 at 12:55 pm

When Clinton was chosen by primary voters to represent the Democrat party, she wasn’t under an active investigation by the FBI? It is a categorical fact that she was during primary season. To suggest otherwise is a willful misrepresentation of history.


Frank Gormlie November 7, 2016 at 10:56 am

UPDATE: Comey on Sunday “cleared” Clinton. But any damage has been done.


Rick Jahnkow November 7, 2016 at 11:18 am

I would say the real damage was done when the DNC and Clinton colluded to ensure that the most defective candidate was nominated by the Democratic Party. I keep pointing this out because this is another case of the DP establishment telling people on the Left that they have no choice but to accept whomever they hand to us as an alternative to a Republican. Some of the readers here only want to focus on electing Clinton versus Trump. I’m not campaigning here for any particular alternative to Trump; rather, I’m arguing that–after experiencing decades of the same back-and-forth cycles–it’s time for true progressives (including the Green and P&F parties) to focus on a different, long-term strategy that will alter the political climate so we can eventually have true, viable alternatives, not neoliberal representatives of the status quo.


Frank Gormlie November 7, 2016 at 11:36 am

Rick – we’ve been saying that for years – and it hasn’t happened, this “focus on a different, long-term strategy that will alter , etc,” and in the meantime, the racists and fascists have mobilized and have presented the country with the most immediate threat of a destruction of any semblance we have of a democracy. If Trump wins, any Greens and leftists will be shuffled to the fringe and worse. You aren’t taking into account the stakes of this election, my friend, as I have known you a long time. We just have to disagree here. You won’t be able to vote Green anymore if Trump succeeds.


Rick Jahnkow November 7, 2016 at 12:46 pm

Frank, what long-term strategy are you saying has been tried? If you mean the focus on running candidates with 3rd parties, that is not the kind of a strategy I’m talking about. People on the Left who continue to focus on electoral campaigns are failing to see how that it only works if, and when, a large enough political consensus has been created in support of progressive change. We don’t have that now largely because the Left in this country has mostly been obsessed with putting out fires, rather than doing the long-term work needed to cut off the fuel for those fires. Progressive activists focus on the established, entrenched political system but rarely the socialization process that is the system’s foundation. On the other hand, the conservative forces in this country DO understand the causal relationship of socialization to politics; which is why, for example, they organize to control and dictate the policies of the educational system. The kind of long-term strategy for changing the political climate that I’m talking about is one that would intervene before future members of the power base even leave high school. Where, Frank, has that been tried? I haven’t see it, except in relatively limited ways. Some individuals with progressive goals do become teachers or run for school board, but there is no organized, intentional strategy for that because the main focus of activists in this country has been on top-down political campaigns. I do believe that local electoral races are valuable to pursue; they are one way to actually exert power and gradually build an organized political base for the future. But there also has to be a strategy that simultaneously focuses on intervening in the socialization process (i.e., value formation), and that’s what has been missing on the Left (though not on the Right).


triggerfinger November 7, 2016 at 11:41 am

Well the people spoke loud and clear in nominating Trump, despite the gop’s best efforts otherwse. I guess the DNC is just more effective at keeping their minions in line. I agree that we need more competition, including a viable 3rd party. I suggest anyone looking long term consider the 3rd 4th and 5th candidates for office. If one of these tickets can attain 5% of the popular vote they will qualify for matching federal campaign funds next time. And have a chance at being taken seriously. This would benefit all parties.

This is especially true for disgruntled voters in states with a wide polling margin like CA. There is absolutely no reason to feel compelled to vote for the fascist or crooked candidate.


Sharon Kramer November 7, 2016 at 12:06 pm

I agree. There is no way that Trump will take California. My vote for Stein will not impact who becomes the next president. But it could impact who becomes the next, next president or what issues are given greater weight in four years via 3, instead of just 2, candidates receiving federal campaign funds.


triggerfinger November 7, 2016 at 11:43 am
Jeoffry B. Gordon, MD, MPH November 7, 2016 at 1:51 pm

I agree. The explicit public statements of the principals on the DJT/FBI side leave no room for doubt about their collusion to sink democracy. The only item your extensive story left out is that the email issue only came to attention as a seridipitous side effect of the Benghazi inquisition.


rick callejon November 7, 2016 at 3:50 pm

“serendipitous” for whom?


Michelle Broe November 10, 2016 at 12:51 am

To Frank & the Gang at OB Rag,
Thanks so much for your article “An Attempted Coup D’etat by FBI Trumpland ?” This should have been the lead story in every news media across the land. But instead of reading about it in the New York Times I found it in the tiny obscure OB Rag from Ocean Beach, California. This is an excellent article, well written & well researched.
Please continue to keep us informed.

Best Regards,
Michelle Broe


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