“We cannot tolerate this any longer,” said the former CIA Director at the head of the table. “We have to forcibly retake the government from Donald Trump. It is the only way save our democracy.”
His audience nodded solemnly. The men and women gathered at that secret February meeting on the top floor of 241 West 41st Street, the New York Times building, were Democrat politicians, media figures, retired and active members of the federal security bureaucracy, and several Establishment Republicans, and they were at wit’s end. There simply was no other choice. Donald Trump must be replaced, and it no longer mattered how. This meeting was the genesis of the bloody coup of April 2018.
Out of power, with #TheResistance fading, the ruling class elitists dislodged from their sinecures by the arrival of Donald Trump and his populist followers in 2016 were desperate. There was no guarantee they would retake power in 2020, or even 2024, were Ivanka to run. Their Trump/Russia fiasco had crashed and burned. They had created the pseudo-scandal to convince the electorate that Trump and Putin had been tongue-kissing during the election and, instead, it backfired on the Democrats by revealing their Fusion GPS/FSB shenanigans. Worse, somewhere in a DOJ safe house, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz was trying to keep out of prison by spilling her guts to Jeff Sessions’ investigators.
It had been all the mandarins could do to suppress that scandal, though in the uncontrolled media – and in Trump’s accursed tweets – Democratic corruption was still under a spotlight. After Trump went on the internet (since no network but Fox would show his speech) to explain that he was firing Robert Mueller for his massive conflicts of interest and his inability to run a professional, leak-free organization, nothing happened. The media railed, Capitol Hill was in an uproar, but the people understood that having the accuser’s best buddy lead the investigation makes it a sham, and Trump’s numbers didn’t budge. In fact, polls for Trump-allied primary candidates rose. Future Michigan Senator Kid Rock was even acting like a real candidate, releasing a position paper on tariff policy –“My position is standing up for America first and not bending over for these damn foreigners! Word.”
The Democrats were stalled and powerless as General John Kelly’s focused and disciplined White House staff, in conjunction with the cunning and vindictive Mitch McConnell (who relieved Schumer-ally John McCain of his beloved Armed Services Committee chairmanship “reluctantly, so my good friend John can focus on his health and his family”), began pushing through appointments, filling empty court seats, and notching legislative wins. The media’s credibility was in free fall – CNN’s ratings dipped below those of Love, American Style reruns on the That 70s Channel network. And the GOP Establishment, frozen out of government jobs and abandoned by donors, was in a panic. “You should see how many empty cabins we have on the Weekly Standard Does Scandinavia cruise!” whimpered one disgruntled conservative publisher.
And the uncouth nature of these red state barbarians – it was too much to bear. Just the other day, a senior White House advisor had gone on Tucker and said that if Chuck Schumer didn’t like the recent repeal of the legislative filibuster, he could “Kiss me where the Good Lord split me!”
But how would one pull off a coup d’etat in the United States? Most of the political hacks had no idea, while the military experts understood the massive challenge. Some answers were obvious – in the Third World, the first thing the plotters take control of are the radio and TV stations and the newspapers. In America, the media was already in the bag. Hell, they would cheerlead a coup. But the actual seizure of power? That was more complicated.
“You just send in some soldiers and take over everything,” said the younger and, astonishingly, stupider California senator. “You know, with guns. How hard can this Army stuff be?”
Retired – actually, fired by Trump – General Leonard Smith, who had been promoted by Obama after failing to win in Iraq and Afghanistan, but who successfully spearheaded the transsexuals in foxholes initiative, tried to explain.
“Look, it’s a matter of numbers. We take all our land forces in CONUS…”
“What’s CONUS?” asked a former Clinton Deputy Assistant Undersecretary of Defense.
“The continental United States,” the general replied, annoyed. “We have maybe 45 brigade combat teams total available, counting everything active and reserve, Marine and Army. Less than one per state. And a city takes a brigade to control – at least. New York would take ten. And that’s assuming they were all loyal to us. There’s police and federal law enforcement too, but we also have 100 million armed Americans who might object.”
“Ridiculous,” sniffed the senator. “How can a bunch of citizens armed with their deer rifles stop a modern army?”
“Oh, I don’t know, Senator. Ask the Vietnamese. Or the Afghans. Look, we need speed and focus. Step one is to decapitate the government by eliminating the current leadership, via capture or … otherwise. Step two, take the the key control nodes before the administration can react. Step three, use the inertia of the military and law enforcement. We get them on our side – whether they know it or not – and keep them moving and following orders so they do not have time to reflect and react against us. But you need to understand and to go into this with your eyes open. If we do this, people will die. Are you ready for that?”
“If breaking a few eggs is the price of restoring democracy by removing the president these Neanderthals elected, so be it,” said a MSNBC hostess. The general, thinking about the high position he had been promised in the new government, said nothing. For him, it was worth the risk.
They set about making contacts, enlisting support, and drafting plans. Their agents in the intelligence community ordered surveillance on dozens of government and civilian leaders expected to be loyal to the administration. Military contacts recruited key commanders and routed others into vital posts. For example, near Washington, the 3rdInfantry regiment’s commander was suddenly relieved and a new one assigned. The commander of the DC National Guard was likewise vetted and enlisted. At the FBI, arrest warrants for “Treason” were drafted and signed by friendly judges and then held for the right moment. Some hints of these preparations filtered up to law enforcement, but sympathizers throughout the federal government ensured the tips were routed to the circular file.
Timing was everything – all the pieces had to be in place to act. But they weren’t. As the weeks wore on and February turned to March and March into April, the plotters grew anxious. Every passing day made it more likely that their plan would be leaked and exposed. It actually was exposed once – a CNN reporter did a segment headlined “Rumors of a Military Coup in Swirl in Washington” before the executives shut it down. Luckily for the conspirators it was on Chris Cuomo’s show, so no one saw it.
Pressure was growing. The economic news was improving as the market hit new highs. Trump-allied candidates were winning primaries as Obamacare collapsed and the people somehow failed to hold those who did not enact it responsible for it. But then a window of opportunity arose. On April 25th, 2018, the President would be at the White House, but the Vice-President would be flying back to Indiana, Attorney General Sessions would be at home in Alabama, and Defense Secretary Mattis would be at an Air Force base in Nebraska. Congress would be in town, as would the Supreme Court. They carefully reviewed their proscription lists – neutralizing key individuals was as important as securing physical locations – and the schemers prepared to act.
The vast majority of the coup catspaws would have no idea of their place in the big picture; they would be assigned specific tasks within the scope of their typical duties and only find out after it was too late that they had been part of the plot. But others knew exactly what they were doing, including a significant number of military and law enforcement trigger pullers who would undertake active measures.
At 8 p.m. on April 25th, cruisers from the Washington, D.C. Police Department received orders to shut down each of the bridges into the city and key land routes in from Maryland due to a “terrorist alert.” The TV stations reported it, but police appeared at local radio stations demanding they go off the air “by order of the Mayor.” In the meantime, a convoy of a dozen vehicles marked “Secret Service” turned onto Pennsylvania Avenue.
General John Kelly walked into the Oval Office where the President was speaking to his colorful communications director. “Mr. President, I have received a report from the CIA of a major potential terrorist operation. I’ll talk to DHS and FBI and see what else we know. We are increasing security here at the White House.”
“What’s going on?” asked Donny Coleman, a uniformed Secret Service officer at the White House gate. He’d been on the job twenty years and never seen anything like this. A dozen Secret Service vehicles with lights were lined up behind the barrier, everyone was in tactical gear, and the head honcho wasn’t in a mood to chat.
“Emergency Response Team. Open the damn gate!” he shouted. “There’s a major terrorist threat.”
But Donny Coleman had not been told of a convoy suddenly appearing because of a major terrorist threat he had heard about just two minutes before, and moreover, he was an affable guy who took pride in knowing just about everyone in the Uniformed Division of the United States Secret Service, and he didn’t know any of these guys.
“Let me hit the gate button,” he said, and walked into the guard shack, hit the button that read “ALARM,” drew his .357 magnum SIG Sauer 229 and dropped to the ground as the claxon sounded and a flurry of 5.56 mm bullets shredded the walls.
“What the hell is this?” Jeff Sessions asked as a half-dozen armed men pushed into his living room in his Alabama home. He had given all but one of his security detail the night off; that man lay on the porch, shot through the forehead.
“Shut up,” said the biggest one, smashing the Attorney General in the mouth.
The pilot of Air Force Two, a C-32 (the military version of a Boeing 757) looked out her window.
“Where’s our escort?” the lieutenant colonel asked. The F-16s had been right there at their wings as they had approached Indianapolis – a nice gesture to welcome their passenger home. The scope showed the two fighters had dropped back.
There was a piercing tone in the cockpit. “Missile lock!” shouted the pilot and the plane’s automatic defense systems came to life. Too late. Four AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles slammed into the jet. It spiraled down into a cornfield north of Jasper, Indiana, at 7:32 p.m. local time.
“Secure the President!” shouted General Kelly as gunfire erupted outside. “Get him to the bunker!” The Secret Service guards did, surrounding him, weapons out. Agents and Marines rushed through the halls, stopping to open hidden cabinets packed with M4s and ammo.
“You need to see this,” Anthony Scaramucci, the communications director said. Kelly followed. In the comms room, he saw the same picture on all the screens – except for Fox, which was snow. It was Hillary Clinton, stiff at a desk, looking a bit like she had imbibed some liquid courage. She was reading off a sheet of yellow paper.
“…no choice but to act decisively to restore democracy and our Constitution by removing the Trump junta. Our armed forces are acting to protect our country by transferring leadership to the National Committee of Recovery and Reconciliation, made up of prominent citizens from all political parties, which will govern until fair elections free of foreign collusion can be held …”
Kelly caught the President and his escorts at the elevator. The battle outside sounded like the general remembered Fallujah sounding. Except, inside the White House, he had only a few Secret Service agents and some Marines to hold off the onslaught.
“Sir,” he said. “It’s a military coup.”
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