Transition Integrity Project Founder Suggested ‘Military Coup’ Against Trump Days After Inauguration

Rosa Brooks
Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Shortly after President Donald Trump’s 2016 inauguration, a co-founder of the Transition Integrity Project (TIP), a group that recently “war-gamed” potential outcomes of the 2020 elections and transition, outlined varying ways to oust Trump including declaring him mentally unfit and carrying out a military coup.

Garnering lots of media attention in recent days, TIP co-founder Rosa Brooks has written numerous op-eds summarizing TIP’s 22-page report, which concluded that anything less than a Biden-Harris landslide will spark catastrophe, including “violence in the streets” and a “constitutional impasse.” 

Despite the group’s official non-partisan claim, Brooks’ presence implies otherwise.

Just days after President Trump’s inauguration, Brooks penned an article advocating for his swift removal from office, even going so far as to suggest the military not follow orders. 

A Schwartz Senior Fellow at New America, a think tank funded by billionaire George Soros’s Open Society Foundations, Brooks served as a senior adviser at the State Department during both the Obama and Clinton administrations. 

Writing in Foreign Policy magazine only ten days after President Trump’s inauguration, Brooks suggested four different ways of ridding the new president. 

TIP was formed in late 2019 and comprises over 100 leading experts and officials, mostly Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans, including former RNC chair Michael Steele, Bill Kristol, former Clinton aide John Podesta, and former DNC interim chair Donna Brazile.

Breitbart News previously reported on Brooks’ essay in Foreign Policy magazine, titled “3 Ways to Get Rid of President Trump Before 2020,” (though the piece actually outlines four ways). 

In what seems to be a deliberate tactic, Brooks repeatedly questions Trump’s mental stability throughout, claiming that the president’s first week in office “has made it all too clear: Yes, he is as crazy as everyone feared.”

Brooks, who is not a mental health professional, offered no evidence for her psychological evaluation other than citing policies she disagrees with:

Remember those optimistic pre-inauguration fantasies? I cherished them, too. You know: “Once he’s president, I’m sure he’ll realize it doesn’t really make sense to withdraw from all those treaties.” “Once he’s president, surely he’ll understand that he needs to stop tweeting out those random insults.” “Once he’s president, he’ll have to put aside that ridiculous campaign braggadocio about building a wall along the Mexican border.” And so on.

Nope. In his first week in office, Trump has made it eminently clear that he meant every loopy, appalling word — and then some.

Brooks goes on to list four ways to oust a “crummy” president:

  • Elect him out of office after his four-year term. “But after such a catastrophic first week, four years seems like a long time to wait,” she wrote.
  • Impeachment. However, she lamented, “impeachments take time: months, if not longer — even with an enthusiastic Congress. And when you have a lunatic controlling the nuclear codes, even a few months seems like a perilously long time to wait.”
  • Utilizing a claim of mental instability to invoke the 25th Amendment of the Constitution, which sets the path for the commander-in-chief’s removal if the “president is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”
  • A military coup. She writes: “The fourth possibility is one that until recently I would have said was unthinkable in the United States of America: a military coup, or at least a refusal by military leaders to obey certain orders.”

Regarding her suggested military coup, a creative Brooks proposes scenarios that she fears Trump might try to play out:

What would top U.S. military leaders do if given an order that struck them as not merely ill-advised, but dangerously unhinged? An order that wasn’t along the lines of “Prepare a plan to invade Iraq if Congress authorizes it based on questionable intelligence,” but “Prepare to invade Mexico tomorrow!” or “Start rounding up Muslim Americans and sending them to Guantánamo!” or “I’m going to teach China a lesson — with nukes!”

When it comes to invoking the 25th Amendment, Brooks argues for appealing to the “ambitions” of Vice President Mike Pence.

That Amendment states:

Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore [or, “president for a time”] of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

“Surely Pence wants to be president himself one day, right?” Brooks writes. “Pence isn’t exactly a political moderate — he’s been unremittingly hostile to gay rights, he’s a climate change skeptic, etc. — but, unappealing as his politics may be to many Americans, he does not appear to actually be insane. (This is the new threshold for plausibility in American politics: ‘not actually insane.’)”

The same day that Breitbart News reported on her essay, Brooks posted on Twitter, “Breitbart is after me, claiming I’m urging a military coup. How do I know? Sudden uptick in illiterate, obscenity-laced tweets and emails.”

Four days later, Brooks tweeted, “And Then the Breitbart Lynch Mob Came for Me!”

Given her clear animus toward Trump — having advocated for his removal shortly after his inauguration — it is hardly surprising that Brooks is now spearheading TIP’s 22-page report, titled “Preventing a Disrupted Presidential Election and Transition,” which concludes that only a Biden win can prevent large-scale chaos.

As Breitbart News reported, Brooks recently penned a piece in the Washington Post based on the TIP conclusion that only “a landslide for Joe Biden” assured a “relatively orderly transfer of power.”

Brooks writes:

President Trump has broken countless norms and ignored countless laws during his time in office, and while my colleagues and I at the Transition Integrity Project didn’t want to lie awake at night contemplating the ways the American experiment could fail, we realized that identifying the most serious risks to our democracy might be the best way to avert a November disaster. So we built a series of war games, sought out some of the most accomplished Republicans, Democrats, civil servants, media experts, pollsters and strategists around, and asked them to imagine what they’d do in a range of election and transition scenarios.

A landslide for Joe Biden resulted in a relatively orderly transfer of power. Every other scenario we looked at involved street-level violence and political crisis. [Emphasis added]

Brooks detailed “four scenarios” the project explored: “a narrow Biden win; a big Biden win with a decisive lead in both the electoral college and the popular vote; a Trump win with an electoral college lead but a large popular-vote loss, as in 2016; and finally, a period of extended uncertainty as we saw in the 2000 election.”

TIP, as Brooks writes, envisions a clear Trump win playing out as such: 

In the “Trump win” scenario, desperate Democrats — stunned by yet another election won by the candidate with fewer votes after credible claims of foreign interference and voter suppression — also sought to send rival slates of electors to Congress. They even floated the idea of encouraging secessionist movements in California and the Pacific Northwest unless GOP congressional leaders agreed to a series of reforms, including the division of California into five smaller states to ensure better Senate representation of its vast population, and statehood for D.C. and Puerto Rico.

Brooks’ TIP report has set the stage for grim scenarios this coming November. 

Even a “clear Trump win” is deemed possible only through “foreign interference and voter suppression” and will not be regarded as legitimate.  

With progressive groups preparing to mobilize for a “political apocalypse” full of violence and chaos, and Hillary Clinton urging Joe Biden not to concede the election “under any circumstances,” the dire “forecasts” of the left are set to become self-fulfilling prophecies.

Follow Joshua Klein on Twitter @JoshuaKlein.


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