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President Trump is no longer pussyfooting around.
He just Tweeted out a quote from Rachel Campos-Duffy that said:
“This guy (Peter Strzok) was organizing a coup to undo the 2016 election.”
He then tagged Fox News and added his own commentary:
And he wasn’t the only one in that Administration. The greatest Witch Hunt in American history!
Even NBC News commented:
President Donald Trump has taken to referring to his impeachment as a "coup." In October, for example, he tweeted: "As I learn more and more each day, I am coming to the conclusion that what is taking place is not an impeachment, it is a COUP intended to take away the power of the……..People." (That tweet is copied out verbatim, excessive ellipses included.) In his irate letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosion Dec. 17, Trump echoed the same sentiments: "this [attempted impeachment] is nothing more than an illegal, partisan coup that will, based on recent sentiment, badly fail at the voting booth."
I'm not sure the president is entirely wrong to use the word "coup" to describe what's taking place. Just not in the way he intends it.
A coup is generally understood as an illegal seizure of governmental power, often accomplished suddenly and violently. Notable coups include Napoleon Bonaparte's 1799 efforts to seize power in Franceand Francisco Franco's actions in 1936 to overthrow the democratically elected government of Spain.
But what happens when one co-equal branch of government is delegitimized by another, not violently or suddenly or even with the vanquished branch putting up much of a fight? It may not look like a traditional overthrowing of a government, but it does feel like a coup of sorts: Call it a partial coup, maybe. Given Trump's aggressive stonewalling of legislative branch oversight and impeachment hearings, along with Congress' ineffectiveness in dealing with said stonewalling, it feels like we are in the midst of a slow-moving, intra-governmental takeover.
What happens when one co-equal branch of government is delegitimized by another, not violently or suddenly, or even with the vanquished branch putting up much of a fight?
The framers of our Constitution set up a system of three co-equal branches of government with checks and balances, calibrated to ensure that no one branch could ride roughshod over the others. For example, the legislative branch can pass bills, and the president, as the head of the executive branch, is empowered to sign or veto them. Once bills are signed into law, the judicial branch gets to decide whether those laws are constitutional if their legality is challenged. The branches of government are figuratively placed on a three-way balancing scale. Think the classic children's game "Tip-It."
It's well-established that the legislative branch spends or appropriates money, exercising its so-called power of the purse. Congress also enjoys oversight authority of the executive branch. An unchecked executive branch is not what the Founding Fathers envisioned. Unfortunately, Trump inarguably has taken steps to erode these congressional powers and prerogatives.
During its impeachment inquiry, the House sought the testimony of several administration officials and other executive branch employees with knowledge of the incidents at hand, specifically Trump's interactions with Ukraine. Trump ordered all of those officials not to testify. To be sure, some executive branch employees disobeyed the prohibition and appeared before Congress — brave patriots like former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, Dr. Fiona Hill and Bill Taylor. But many complied. Trump also ordered executive branch agencies not to turn over any documents sought by the House.
Make no mistake about it, when the executive branch refuses to allow the legislative branch to perform its constitutional duties of oversight and/or impeachment inquiry, when the executive branch refuses to produce documents relevant to the issues being investigated by congressional committees, when the executive branch orders witnesses to ignore and thereby violate lawfully issued congressional subpoenas, this is, indeed, a kind of coup. It's the executive branch trying to delegitimize — or overthrow — the legislative branch. In a very real sense, Trump is declaring that the executive branch will not allow a co-equal branch of government to do what the Constitution requires it to do.
This wasn't the first time either.
Check out this NBC snipped from October:
President Donald Trump on Tuesday escalated his attacks on Democrats' impeachment efforts, referring to the inquiry as a "coup."
"As I learn more and more each day, I am coming to the conclusion that what is taking place is not an impeachment, it is a COUP," he said.
The House last month launched a formal impeachment inquiry stemming from a July 25 phone call between Trump and the Ukrainian president as well as a related whistleblower complaint.
The tweets came hours after reports that former Ukraine special envoy Kurt Volker and former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch would be sitting for depositions before the House committees involved in the impeachment inquiry.
The State Department’s Inspector General also scheduled a surprise briefing for Wednesday with staffers from a group of House and Senate committees on documents related to the State Department and Ukraine, multiple Congressional sources told NBC News.
Earlier Tuesday, Trump's trade adviser Peter Navarro told Fox Business Network he thought the president was the victim "of an attempted coup d'etat."
"This is a very dangerous game that I think the Democrats could play," Navarro said.
A coup is generally defined as a sudden, violent overthrow of a government or a seizure of power.
The impeachment process, however, is set out in the U.S. constitution.
Trump has claimed to be the victim of takeover attempts before — he called former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election an "attempted coup."