A Trump Coup Would Need Military Support. Not Likely After This Week


If President Donald J. Trump is convicted by the U.S. Senate or if he loses the 2020 election, many liberals and lefties worry he won’t leave office voluntarily. I am not overly concerned. In order to carry out such a coup, Trump would need the active cooperation of the military. And the leadership of the armed services regards the president as a harmful buffoon. Just consider the past few weeks.

Over the past weekend, Trump fired Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer. The termination resulted from the parties disagreeing over Trump’s pardon of Navy SEAL and Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher, who had been convicted of violating military law. First, Trump pardoned Gallagher, 1st Lieutenant Clint Lorance, another soldier convicted of war crimes, and Major Mathew Golsteyn, who was awaiting trial for a war crime. The military brass made no secret of its unhappiness.

CBS News reported former Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey tweeting, “Absent evidence of innocence or injustice the wholesale pardon of US service members accused of war crimes signals our troops and allies that we don’t take the Law of Armed Conflict seriously. Bad message. Bad precedent. Abdication of moral responsibility. Risk to us. #Leadership.”

In response to Gallagher’s pardon, the Navy leadership went after the sailor’s “Trident Pin,” essentially wanting to boot him out of the SEALs, a special operations force. Trump interfered with military discipline again, ordering that Gallagher be reinstated. Navy Secretary Spencer refused to cave to the president’s orders and was fired.

This is the latest incident in an ongoing war between military leaders and the president.

Retired Marine Corps General John Kelly served first as Trump’s Secretary of Homeland Security and then as his chief of staff. It didn’t go well. Kelly recalled telling Trump, “I said, whatever you do — and we were still in the process of trying to find someone to take my place — I said whatever you do, don’t hire a ‘yes man,’ someone who won’t tell you the truth — don’t do that. Because if you do, I believe you will be impeached,” according to CNN.

Retired Army Lt. General H.R. McMaster became Trump’s national security adviser. After McMaster left the Trump administration, he said some of his former colleagues were “a danger to the Constitution,” reported Politico.

From 2017-18, retired Marine Corps General Jim Mattis filled the Secretary of Defense post for Trump. The Atlantic reported that Mattis told his friends that Trump was “of limited cognitive ability and of generally dubious character.”

If the U.S. military must choose sides between a rogue Trump and the rule of law, it’s clear the leaders of the armed forces will support the latter.

George Howland Jr.
George Howland Jr.http://www.GeorgeHowland.com
Since 1977, George Howland Jr. has lived in Seattle and written reportage, opinion pieces, memoirs, fiction and book and music reviews. He has worked at Real Change, Seattle Weekly and The Stranger.


  1. While military commanders may consider him a buffoon, surveys show military service men and women are pretty evenly divided over his actions pardoning Gallagher. He has divided lower rank opinions of him which is just dangerous enough to get worried. A successful coup without high ranking leaders would be difficult but if half of the non leadership supports him it’s enough for a failed mini coup (a la Turkey) which is just enough to tear America apart even more.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comments Policy

Please be respectful. No personal attacks. Your comment should add something to the topic discussion or it will not be published. All comments are reviewed before being published. Comments are the opinions of their contributors and not those of Post alley or its editors.