As President Donald Trump’s legal efforts to overturn the presidential election continue to implode, some of his supporters are now endorsing a military coup.
A small number of high-profile Trump loyalists — including former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former Trump legal team member Sidney Powell — are now suggesting that Trump impose martial law or invoke the Insurrection Act to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s clear victory. On Twitter, YouTube, and right-wing outlets, these supporters point to baseless claims of voter fraud as justification for such drastic measures, and calls for military action are now echoing through parts of the right-wing media ecosystem.
Flynn, who was pardoned by Trump last week, promoted a statement on Twitter on December 1 from a group named We the People Convention. The statement, which appeared as a full-page ad in The Washington Times, called on Trump to impose “limited martial law.”
The author of the statement, Tom Zawistowski, appeared on an Ohio talk radio program the same day and vocally defended the idea that military action was not only necessary, but also justified. On The Bob Frantz Authority, host Bob Frantz asked Zawistowski to “lay out the case for martial law. Lay out the case for a military-run revote.”
Zawistowski, who is the head of both We the People Convention and the Portage County TEA Party, responded by arguing, “We are on the verge of a shooting civil war and it is President Trump’s responsibility to make sure that doesn’t happen.” Zawistowski continued, “This act we’re asking him to do is fair and is reasonable and will, again, start to reset things so we can move forward with at least knowing one thing — we had a fair election and the president that was elected is who the people wanted.”
Decrying nonexistent voter fraud and coronavirus restrictions, Zawistowski also claimed, “We have had our constitution suspended by this illegal activity and the martial law is a constitutional activity and we need to do this.”
Powell and Lin Wood — two of the most prominent lawyers involved in lawsuits alleging that voter fraud cost Trump the election -- have also endorsed a coup attempt. Powell, who had been working for the Trump legal team until recently, retweeted a call for military tribunals and for Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act. Wood also promoted the statement by We the People Convention on Twitter and stated that Trump “should declare martial law.”
Trump ally Roger Stone, who had already urged Trump in September to consider imposing martial law after the election, again repeated this suggestion during an appearance on The Alex Jones Show on December 2. Stone, as proof that martial law was justified, claimed that he had “absolute incontrovertible evidence of North Korean boats delivering ballots through a harbor in Maine.”
The day before, Jones promoted the statement by We the People Convention and argued, “This is the U.N. global takeover. So the response is martial law to stop their martial law and arrest them.”
One of the most vocal proponents of this campaign is retired Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney. McInerney was a frequent guest on Fox News before being banned from the network in 2018 after claiming Sen. John McCain bowed under torture in Vietnam.
McInerney has made appearances on multiple right-wing platforms — including conservative talk radio and One America News — to call on Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act.
Appearing on The John Fredericks Show on November 30, McInerney urged Trump to establish military tribunals to litigate claims of fraud and stated, “The president has got to declare this a national emergency. He has the authority, the executive order, and the Insurrection Act. He must act.” McInerney continued, “This is not fraudulent activity. It’s treason.”
McInerney repeated similar claims during an interview with OAN, arguing, “I think President Trump should declare a national emergency. … This election is and has been stolen from the American people. We have a small group that is extreme left, on the way to communism, and they are the ones that are taking these drastic measures.” McInerney also appeared on another radio program and a YouTube livestream earlier this week where he made similar claims.
Calls for martial law are also echoing in other fringe circles of the right-wing media world.
- A post on the far-right message board TheDonald.win calling for Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act and the “Militia Act” has more than 3,500 upvotes as of December 3.
- Gateway Pundit contributor Cassandra Fairbanks wrote “I’m down” on Twitter in response to a tweet noting that Wood had called for Trump to declare martial law. “Stop the Steal” organizer Mike Coudrey retweeted Fairbanks’ comment.
- Gab CEO Andrew Torba endorsed Flynn’s call for martial law in a post on his site.
- As Right Wing Watch reported, QAnon conspiracy theorist Johnny Enlow claimed that Trump “has the right to put the whole nation under martial law.” Calls for the use of the military have gained traction particularly among QAnon supporters.