The Arrogance of Trump's Criminal Conspiracy
Just like villains in the movies, Trump’s partners in crime can't stop themselves from telling us about their fiendish plot.
In every James Bond film, there comes a moment when the criminal mastermind has the irresistible urge to reveal the details of their evil plot. The desire is so overwhelming the villain can’t resist letting the cat out of the bag.
For example, in the 1964 film Goldfinger, Bond stumbles upon international gold smuggler Auric Goldfinger’s plot to explode a dirty bomb inside the US gold repository, rendering the gold reserve untouchable for nearly sixty years. MI-6, a blog focused on 007 lore, explains Goldfinger’s scheme. In his arrogance, Goldfinger shows his hand. Ultimately, Bond puts two and two together and foils the villain’s plan.
Rather than stealing gold from Fort Knox, and facing the logistical nightmare of transporting the bulky and heavy metal, Auric Goldfinger planned to detonate an atomic bomb inside the US gold repository. The “dirty bomb” would irradiate the US gold reserve, thereby increasing the value of gold and his own stockpile.
Bond assumes the plot is a garden-variety heist in his confrontation with Goldfinger. Luckily for Bond, Goldfinger can’t resist disclosing his evil plot:
BOND: “$15,000,000,000 in gold bullion weighs 10,500 tons. 60 men would take 12 days to load it onto 200 trucks. Now, at the most, you’re going to have 2 hours before the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines move in and make you put it back.”
GOLDFINGER: “Who mentioned anything about removing it?”
In the months leading up to the January 6 insurrection, Team Trump did something even more arrogant than a Bond villain. They put their entire criminal strategy to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in writing. And in a combination of hubris and ignorance, they can’t seem to stop telling us about it. Last August, I wrote about how, in December 2020, then-acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue memorialized damning phone calls with the former president in handwritten notes:
In late December of last year, the former president spoke with top Justice Department officials regarding the 2020 presidential election, telling them to “just say the election was corrupt and to leave the rest to me.” How do we know? It turns out there are notes…then-acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue took copious handwritten notes memorializing Rosen’s incriminating phone calls with the former president.
According to Donoghue’s handwritten records, an hour before announcing Bill Barr’s departure from the Department of Justice, Trump ramped up the pressure on Rosen, hoping the incoming acting attorney general would acquiesce and amplify Trump’s election fraud lie.
While Donoghue’s notes are damaging, but their existence is unsurprising. The memorialization of presidential communications occurs as a matter of course. The difference is that previous presidents (Nixon excluded) generally had the common sense not to discuss their intended criminality out loud.
And now, thanks to the members of the former president’s inner circle, we know just how far Trump and crew were willing to go to prevent Joe Biden from assuming office.
In their new book, The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward and Robert Costa write that John Eastman, an attorney on the Trump legal team, wrote a memo outlining a scheme in which former Vice President Mike Pence would toss out the 2020 election results.
Documents provided to January 6 investigators by former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows are even more revealing. As Mary Papenfuss of The Huffington Post writes, Meadows provided the committee with a slew of text messages and emails, one of which alludes to the existence of a PowerPoint presentation outlining how Trump could prevent the certification of the presidential election:
The plan involved then-president Trump declaring a national security emergency to delay the certification of the 2020 election results, then manhandling the vote to favor him and stay in the White House…
The chilling 38-page presentation, titled “Election Fraud, Foreign Interference & Options for 6 Jan,” was referred to in an email sent on Jan. 5, the day before the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol while Congress certified the Electoral College vote…
Under the PowerPoint plan, Trump was to declare a national emergency, citing foreign “control” of electronic voting systems, and then all electronic voting would be rendered invalid. Then-Vice President Mike Pence was to install Republican electors in states where Trump allies would baselessly declare that “fraud occurred,” according to the maneuvers outlined in the plan.
Not to be outdone, former Trump trade advisor Peter Navarro has not only written a book filled with coup plot details, but he’s also jumping in front of any camera he can find. Based on his performance this week on MSNBC’s The Beat with Ari Melber, it’s clear Navarro won’t be satisfied until we admit he is the true mastermind behind the plot to overthrow America’s democracy.
Not only is Navarro’s interview with Melber filled with conspiracy theories and anti-Semitic tropes, but it also illustrates the level of ego and arrogance permeating Trump’s inner circle.
I’ve watched the interview a half dozen times, and it still blows my mind. Here’s an excerpt from the transcript of the Navarro interview provided by Real Clear Politics. It’s a bit long, but if you missed it, it’s worth reading (emphasis added):
ARI MELBER: What was the plan itself, and who was in on it?
PETER NAVARRO: Exactly. And I’m going to tell you that. The plan was simply this. We had over 100 congressmen and senators on Capitol Hill ready to implement the sweep. The sweep was simply that.
We were going to challenge the results of the election in the six battleground states. They were Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Wisconsin, Nevada, and basically these were the places where we believed that if the votes were sent back those battleground states and looked at again that there would be enough concern amongst the legislatures that most or all of those states would decertify the election.
That would throw the election to the House of Representatives, and I would say to you here, Ari, that all of this, again, was in the lanes legally. It was prescribed by the Constitution.
There is a provision to go rather than through the Electoral College to the House of Representatives, and all this required was peace and calm on Capitol Hill, and at 1:00 p.m., Senator Ted Cruz and Gosar, a representative, started the Green Bay sweep beautifully challenging the results of Arizona.
Here’s the most important thing I can tell you about this. The thing that we were trying to deal with was a media which refused to acknowledge any kind of possible fraud or irregularities…
ARI MELBER: I’ve given you some time and I think you’ve explained that, and I’m going to follow up here, and I want us to have a back and forth, but that involves both of us.
You just described away — yeah. You just described this plan as a way to take an election where the outcome was established by independent Secretaries of State, by the voters of those states, and legal remedies have been exhausted with the Supreme Court never even taking, let alone siding with, any of the claims that you just referred to, so legally they went nowhere, and then you’re describing a way that the incumbent —
PETER NAVARRO: I object to that.
ARI MELBER: Hold on. You will get your turn. I just let you go for a while. Let’s go back and forth. You will lose the incumbent losing party’s power, that was the Republican Party losing power to overtake and reverse that outcome. Do you realize you are describing a coup?
PETER NAVARRO: No, I totally reject many of your premises there. First of all, the election was still in doubt and would be until it was certified. Second, the idea that secretaries of state, particularly in Michigan and Pennsylvania were like innocent parties, I mean, Jocelyn Benson and Kathy Bookfar, the secretaries of state in Michigan and Pennsylvania, they were put in power by George Soros for the express purpose of shifting the playing field to the Democrats.
They were found in both states to have broken the law. The point here is, Ari, that we were following the Constitution and rules of the Senate to simply get a recount of what the votes were, and we were looking for these battleground states to basically review whether there were irregularities. That’s by the book. That’s by the book.
Navarro’s comments are illuminating. Aside from the fact that he sounds more like Auric Goldfinger than a Harvard Ph.D., Navarro confirms that the events of January 6 weren’t just an insurrection; the insurgency was the culmination of a scheme with many moving parts—notwithstanding Navarro’s suggestion that, if not for the insurrectionists, the whole coup plan would’ve worked.
The bottom line is that Trump and his cronies planned their coup d’état over an extended period and on multiple levels, some of which remain unknown. With so many Republicans in on the scheme, it is surprising the plot failed.
Trump’s people keep telling us what they tried to do. Now the only thing in question is the issue of consequences.