The Joy Reid show did its best today to stoke fears that President Trump would refuse to leave office if he loses the 2020 election. Dark theories were floated, including the notion that Trump would enlist the military in a "coup d'etat," with support from Republican "monarchists" in Congress. There was also criticism of Nancy Pelosi for refusing to pursue impeachment.
A simultaneously hilarious and infuriating moment came when former Watergate prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks said that there is a "much bigger threat now" of Trump refusing to leave office than there was during Nixon's day. Why? Because back then, "we had basically three networks, and they all had the same facts. Now you have this awful thing where we have a bubble of people who believe facts that are totally made up."
Translation: liberals are nostalgic for the good old days of the liberal media oligopoly. Now, liberals lament, we have this "this awful thing" in which the left's stranglehold has been broken, and people have alternative sources of information.
The segment kicked off the paranoia parade with a clip from Michael Cohen's congressional testimony in which he darkly predicted: "I fear that if he loses the election in 2020, there will never be a peaceful transition power."
Wine-Banks ended the scare-mongering segment by warning, "you could say it can’t happen here. I think a lot of people in past history have said the same thing and it did happen. And we have to be vigilant now, and we have to really get out the vote." That last line actually gave away the game: what better way to "get out the vote" than by frightening Dems into believing that unless they vote in massive numbers, President Trump will cling illegitimately to power?
We reported yesterday on Malcolm Nance's ominous suggestion that the nation could be lost if Trump win's re-election. Today, panelist Midwin Charles sounded a similarly dire note, wondering "what kind of democracy will there be by November 2020?"
Here's the transcript. Click "expand" to read more.
10:00 am EDT
MICHAEL COHEN: Given my experience working for Mr. Trump, I fear that if he loses the election in 2020, that there will never be a peaceful transition of power.
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JOY REID: Well now, the Speaker of House has voiced the same concern. Speaker Nancy Pelosi gave an interview to the New York Times, saying she doesn’t trust the President of the United States to step down if he loses reelection next year.
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MIDWIN CHARLES: For Nancy Pelosi to recognize and identify that in this President he has these autocratic tendencies, but then on the other side to say that impeachment isn’t proper is just mind blowing . . . The way we are going, who knows what kind of democracy will be by November 2020? That’s the concern. And she seems to be missing that.
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ELIZABETH HOLTZMAN: Nothing about Donald Trump is normal. He’s the most abnormal and the most dangerous thing that’s ever happened to this country, because you see the shades of fascism . . . The President has several incentives to stay in office, not only that he loves the power and he loves the parades, and he loves all of the trappings of it, but he can face indictment, prosecution, maybe even jail once he leaves office for various activities that he’s under investigation for right now . . . The real danger and I don’t think we can put it aside, we do have a danger because of his disrespect. I go back to Watergate. While the Saturday Night Massacre was going on, I still remember that Nixon called for a national emergency and the troops were put into readiness state, and people got really nervous. And we also know that the — that the Defense Secretary, Schlesinger, gave out an order to the military not to obey a command from the President of the United States unless he approved it first. And that could happen again, the problem is we have an acting [Defense Secretary], right now, in the Pentagon. Do we have people who are prepared to stand up for our democracy and this government?
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REID: But he doesn't have any intention of committing to a peaceful transition of power, and he's got monarchists in his party who are willing to give up their authority, as Congress, they're willing to give up all their authority in order to be obedient to him.
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E.J. DIONNE: I agree with her [Pelosi] that he will try to play games if the election is close.
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REID: According to reporter Seymour Hersh, Nixon intimates began to believe that he was contemplating some sort of a coup d’etat to maintain power. An unnamed member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told Hersh that in one meeting, Nixon called himself "the last hope," and claimed that the eastern elite was out to get him. Said the four-star officer, "his words brought me straight up out of my chair. I thought the President, without the words having been said, was trying to sound us out to see if we would support him in some extra-constitutional action. He was trying to find out whether in a crunch there was support to keep him in power."
So it’s not completely unprecedented that the President at least contemplates the idea of staying in office unconstitutionally. How much of a threat do you think there is of that now with this President?
JILL WINE-BANKS: I think it’s a much bigger threat now for several reasons. One is the media has multiplied in a way that didn’t exist during Watergate. In Watergate, we had basically three networks and they all had the same facts. Now you have this awful thing where we have a bubble of people who believe facts that are totally made up . . . You could say it can’t happen here. I think a lot of people in past history have said the same thing and it did happen. And we have to be vigilant now, and we have to really get out the vote to make sure that we change administrations so that the rule of law returns, because I do think this is a significant threat.