A Failed Coup Within a Failed Coup - Paul Jay

The riot on the Hill was not an insurrection, but it was the final violent act of a failed coup. But why is the role of Mitch McConnell and the National Association of Manufacturers not being examined? Paul Jay joins the By George podcast Pt3/3.


George A. Clark

So we’re back. This is going to be another great addition to Podcast By George. We’re back with Paul Jay, and I hope that you checked down the earlier episode. If you didn’t, go back and find it, and you’ll segue very nicely into what we’re talking about today. These are kind of long shows, and we want to make sure that we get them all in.

So this is the second in three episodes of Podcast By George with Paul Jay. I want to move along here so that we can get Paul on his way so that he can work on that movie.

The last time you were on Paul, we talked about the January 6th situation, and I even got some comments from people. They said, what the hell is this guy talking about? Not calling that an insurrection, but I thought the key nomenclature that you used was a coup within a failed coup or a failed coup within a failed coup. Can you amplify on that a little?

Paul Jay

Yeah, let me just say an insurrection. If you’re going to call it an insurrection, you’ve got to have some guns, you got to have real force, or you got to have millions of people. I mean, what does it mean? Insurrection is you’re going to take over the government, take over the reins of the government. And you don’t do that without a military, really. So to call it an insurrection it’s just an exaggeration. But that isn’t the issue. It was part of, I think, and I think there’s lots of evidence. It was part of a plan for a coup. And it’s not the same like the people running into the buildings and all that. That wasn’t the main act. That was the final act of a failed coup.

The real thing that happened leading up to the 6th was there seemed to be a plan by [Donald] Trump, and [Michael] Flynn was in on it, and who knows who else. Certainly behind the scenes, Steve Bannon. And it kind of goes like this in September, and this is before the election of 2020. Steve Bannon goes on Tucker Carlson’s Show and calls for a ‘Stop the Steal’ campaign. Now, there hasn’t been an election yet, and they’re already planning a ‘Stop the Steal’ campaign.

So they know Trump’s going to lose. In fact, he didn’t lose by as much as a lot of people thought he would. He still got what, 74, 75 million votes? It was much closer than people thought, given that the guy had completely screwed up the pandemic. But that campaign becomes part of a very relatively worked-out plan anyway. I don’t know how well it worked out.

Once Trump loses, the plan is to mobilize across the country. Bannon announces on the Tucker Carlson Show that he’s going on a cross-country tour. They thought they were going to be able to mobilize people in many cities to storm state legislatures and others. It didn’t really pan out. But Trump tries to intimidate the Governor of Georgia and the Secretary of State of Georgia, and he says, give me 15,000 votes. That’s one of the building blocks. Other Republican-controlled legislatures are supposed to try to reverse the choosing of the Electoral College. But there are other imaginations that go on in the White House.

I think the key to understanding what happened is that on January 4th, the ten former secretaries of defence issued a letter to the Washington Post, warning the armed forces, the military, to stay out of the elections. And it’s clearly meant to be directed towards the Secretary, Trump-appointed Secretary of Defence. On the same day, Admiral [James G.] Stavridis, the former Supreme Commander of NATO, writes a column in Time magazine supporting the letter from the ten former Secretaries. And this is a guy who’s now retired, but he’s one of the most Senior Executives of Carlyle Group, which is a big private equity fund, amongst other things, is a big investor in the military-industrial complex. And on the same day, the Financial Times has an editorial on January 4th, two days before the 6th, and it ends by saying, as bizarre as it seems, there is a coup in progress. So the real story is the story of, quote-unquote, “an attempted coup.” 

Now, what happens, I think, is pretty apparent now, and we’ll see whether this January 6th Commission and Congressional Committee actually does anything on this, because so far, all the attention seems to be on the quote-unquote “insurrection of the 6th,” which is missing the real story. We’ll see if the real story actually comes out. 

[Mark] Milley, the Chair of the Joint Chief, and several other heads of the different branches of the armed forces, they actually issue public statements telling the military to stay out. Now, you don’t do all of this, organize all of this if you don’t think there’s a real threat. And it looks like the plan was, at least sections of the military were being organized, that when the quote-unquote “supposed interaction of the 6th” takes place, then the military can come in and have several things at the same time. The military meaning some sections of the military. Certainly not the senior leadership, because they were clearly against it.

But if they’d been able to pull off the reversal in Georgia, if they’d been able to get some Republican legislatures to flip the Electoral College or at least repudiate some of the election results. If all of that had actually worked, then you have this stuff that goes on at the Hill, then they would have a rationale for the armed forces to come in, declare Martial Law, Trump remains President, and they get to call some other kind of election, assuming they’re going to have an election at all. It was a crazy scheme. It was nuts. I don’t think it had any chance of succeeding. But the most important reason why it had no chance of succeeding, although there’s probably many reasons, is that the elites, the real power in the United States, which means the financial and corporate elites, the billionaire class, the majority, not all because Trump has got his billionaire backers and many multi-millionaire backers. But the majority did not want Trump to cause such a disruption to the transition to Biden because it’s not good for business.

What would happen? It would be chaos. The stock market would go nuts. Global finance would go nuts. China would go nuts. It would have been chaos if you all of a sudden don’t have a peaceful transition to [Joe] Biden. And of course, the elite didn’t mind Biden coming in. Many of them even supported him because, one, Trump was going nuts while he was in office.

And the best example of what I’m talking about, how the elites bailed on Trump, is that on January 6th, the doors of Congress were breached around 2:10 in the afternoon. At 3:04 in the afternoon, the American Association of Manufacturers issued a press release calling on Vice President [Mike] Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Trump.

Now, this is one of the biggest lobbyists associations on behalf of corporate America. They have loved Trump for four years. They’ve been amongst his biggest backers because they got every tax cut they ever wanted. They got all the deregulation they wanted. But they had come to the conclusion that Trump had gone mad, and this would be bad for business. So it’s time to dump Trump.

Now, you don’t make that decision in an hour. The doors get breached at 2:10. You don’t have a statement calling for Pence to remove Trump an hour later. You’re prepared for this. So clearly, the preponderance of the elites had decided they were going to get rid of Trump.

Now, who organized those ten secretaries? This is where it gets even more interesting in some way. And this piece hasn’t been talked about enough. Who organizes the letter of the ten secretaries of defence calling on the military not to intervene? Dick Cheney and Liz Cheney. Certainly, Dick Cheney and Liz, I don’t think we’ve ever heard her disagree with her father in any way, including some of the people of these secretaries of defence, if not most of them. These are not people that are against authoritarian government. Certainly, Dick Cheney was one of the biggest proponents, open proponents of what people call the imperial presidency.

Violating Democratic norms is not Cheney’s problem. He doesn’t mind. I mean, what is a bigger violator of Democratic norms than an illegal invasion of a country that kills hundreds of thousands of people and doesn’t have the authorization by Congress? Cheney doesn’t mind this kind of stuff. But Cheney represents— and sort of George [W.] Bush and that whole crew— they represent the real face of corporate America, of the military-industrial complex.

George A. Clark

Defence business, yeah.

Paul Jay

And others, to a large extent, fossil fuel. Although, Trump has a lot of backing from fossil fuel.

So their differences with Trump and the Trumpest forces are not that they really give a damn about, quote-unquote “Democratic institutions.” And if you want to ask me later what I think of these “Democratic institutions,” you can. Because it’s a complicated story, but not the way it’s normally talked about. It’s not that. It’s that group that represents this really established corporate financial interest. Yes, on the Right. But the financial sector and such didn’t have too much trouble with the Bush-Cheney administration. They don’t want this kind of authoritarianism to be led by anyone other than them. It has to be the Cheney group, and not necessarily him individually. It has to be under the control of the really dominating forces of corporate America and the financial sector. And Trump is too much of a loose cannon.

His financial backing didn’t come when he got elected. It didn’t come from the sort of main, even Republican funders. It was— who stepped in? Robert Mercer, this crazy, batshit crazy hedge fund guy, multi-billionaire. He was the guy that owned Breitbart News. And he’s the guy that gave Trump, Bannon and Kellyanne Conway, and I can’t remember there’s another one.

George A. Clark

The crazy train boy, yeah.

Paul Jay

Well, but skilled people in manipulating public opinion and manipulating sections of the working class. And Sheldon Adelson is the other one that stepped in with the money. He’s another guy, another batshit crazy billionaire who isn’t part of the main circles of the ruling elites.

So I did a piece with Larry Wilkerson, and I titled it The Split Between the Hard-Right and the Far-Right. It’s a real split, a real division. And there’s a part of this populist, quote-unquote. I don’t even like using the word populist, but this Trumpest alliance actually really hates the Cheney-Bush crowd and doesn’t even like sections of the military-industrial complex. It’s very interesting splits that are taking place.

George A. Clark

Wilkerson is great. Before we move off of this particular topic, let me ask you this now. For this to work— and Trump was delusional and has been for some time, obviously. But for it to work, he had to have Pence and [Mitch] McConnell to play along with him. Now, they didn’t play along with him in the end. And maybe that’s what stopped the thing from becoming worse than it was. But there’s a lot of reasons they knew about it.

Paul Jay

It’s because of what I said. Because of National Association Manufacturers, because the elites had told McConnell and Pence what to do.

George A. Clark

Yeah, wow. That’s America today, folks.

Paul Jay

That’s who they’re answering to. You said at the beginning; I called it a failed coup within a failed coup. 

There’s still a question which I don’t know why I seem to be the only one asking. So unless I’m merely missing something, the Sergeant of Arms of the Senate is the guy who really had the authority. When asked by the chain of command to get the National Guard to show up to defend the Capitol buildings; it goes from the Capitol Hill police, Chief of Police, to the three-person committee: the Sergeant of Arms of the Senate, Sergeant of Arms of the House, and the Congressional Architect, because they needed a third person there. I don’t know what the hell he knows. Because they deal with infrastructure issues. 

The real senior person on that three-person committee is the Sergeant of Arms of the Senate. And who does he answer to? The majority party of the Senate. So who’s that? That’s Mitch McConnell. 

And there’s an actual quote in the Washington Post from the Chief of Police of the Capitol Hill police. He was quoted as saying, the morning of the 6th, I pleaded with the Sergeant of Arms of the Senate to call the National Guard in now. And it came out later that he’d actually been asking for it for at least two days leading up to the event. The quote and this is in the Washington Post. The quote is, the Sergeant of Arms of the Senate says, “I’ll have to ask my boss, McConnell, and get back to you.” Now, there’s no secret that’s the chain of command, except according to this quote in the Post, he never did get back to the Chief of Police, and they didn’t call in the National Guard until many hours later.

So why didn’t McConnell authorize the request to the armed forces to bring in the National Guard? And I don’t know why more people aren’t asking that question. And here’s where I go off stuff I know to be true to speculation, but it seems to me it’s good speculation. Once McConnell realizes that the armed forces are not going to step in, Trump didn’t get what he wanted out of Georgia or any of the other States, and the whole thing is falling apart. Who does McConnell hate most in the world? Well, it’s got to be Trump. Yeah, he’s been kissing Trump’s ass for four years. He never wanted Trump to be President, but he had no choice but to play along. So now he sees an opportunity.

And let me again say speculation, speculation. Now he has an opportunity. Let the shit show happen. What’s it going to amount to if the military step in? A bunch of people will run around go nuts. Yes, there’ll be some violence, but in the end of it all, Trump will get blamed for it all. And finally, says McConnell, I’ll be rid of this fucking asshole. And that was his coup. But that failed as well. He had completely underestimated the amount of support Trump had even after the events of January 6th.

George A. Clark

It’s real, yeah, that’s for sure. They’re out there, folks. There’s lots of them. They love the man. He may be coming back in 2024. And the other thing I wanted to ask you about Paul, again talking about the Washington Post. The op-ed piece by those three generals that was in the Washington Post— I’m going to throw up on-screen this coverage of it in Newsweek. These generals, and at least one of them, Matthew Hoh, even said this guy is a sober, reflective, clear-thinking individual. They’re thinking that we may have another coup attempt or something worse by at least 2024. And they’re wanting, and maybe they’re just wanting, but they’re wanting to wargame this. They’re wanting to have preparation across all branches of the military to get ready for something that’s coming in just a couple of years.

Paul Jay

Well, one, I think they’re right. And two, here’s the problem, and this is what they don’t want to talk about. This guy Stavridis, the Admiral I talked about, he had another article in Time magazine a couple of weeks after January 6th where he talked about extremists in the military. And he talked about the need to purge them.

He talked about Nazis and Proud Boys, white supremacists and so on. But he didn’t talk about the real issue, which is far more significant than any of those groups, even though they’re all somewhat associated with each other. And that’s the strength of they call themselves Christian nationalists. Some people call them Christian fascists—the power of Christian nationalists in the armed forces.

Like I interviewed a guy named Michael Weinstein, who runs the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. They fight the efforts of these right-wing evangelicals and right-wing Catholics as well, Opus Dei types and others who force soldiers into religious recruitment essentially.

Weinstein thinks, and it’s somewhat anecdotal his estimate, but he’s been at this for years and years. They have like 75,000 soldiers that they have on their email list and that they work with. Anyway, he thinks it’s not impossible, or I should put it another way. He thinks it’s likely that 25% to 30% of the military is now Christian nationalist in an organized way. By organized, I mean at various officer levels. There are Christian nationalists who can essentially order pro-Christian nationalist troops around. And it goes to very high levels. I don’t know how high, but he says very high. 

I mean, clearly, I don’t know if any of them are in the Joint Chiefs, and I don’t know what the story is on Flynn’s brother. He is Commander of the Pacific Forces, I believe. And apparently a real believer he’s described as. So does that mean Christian nationalist? I don’t know, but maybe.

That’s the real story of January 6th. Why did they take a threat of a coup so seriously? Because it didn’t matter what Trump was doing, what his machinations were with Georgia and all the rest. The focus was on the intervention of the military. And if it wasn’t the most senior military leadership, then who was it? And it’s got to be these forces of Christian nationalism, Christian fascism in the military.

And here’s where the military has some problems. One, they’re very strong, and you can’t get rid of people just because of their religious beliefs. Three, this point Wilkerson made, where are most of these Christian nationalists based? Well, in these rural, mostly poor States that are, guess what? The number one state for recruiting soldiers.

So what happens to your recruitment campaigns that are already having trouble? I just saw an article. They’re going to offer— what is it, $50,000 bonuses for people that volunteer to join the army? I mean, the armed forces.

So you go, and you piss off these areas where Christian nationalism is strong. Who the hell are you going to recruit? So they have a real dilemma here because they’ve allowed this to fester. Why did they allow this kind of Christian nationalism to fester? Because one of the things about soldiers that are kind of true believers is they’ll go out and die for you, and they won’t ask too many questions. And if you want people to go out and kill the infidels in Iraq, because the Christian nationalists and the Islamic extremists are just two sides of the same coin, more or less. You need believers, especially when soldiers who are not believers. You got to be a believer in Christian nationalism. At least you got to be a believer in Americanism. But that’s a little bit harder to maintain these days. So they’ve got real trouble.

So, yeah. Is there a real possibility that if they don’t take back Congress in 2022, are they going to go nuts? Yeah, more likely. The way things are going, it looks like they are going to legitimately take back Congress to a large extent because so much money has gone into capturing state legislatures.

Then through these state legislatures, they’re now rewriting the election laws. And through voter suppression and other means, it’s very difficult to see how the Democrats are going to keep control of perhaps both houses. And most importantly, the Democratic Party and its leadership have been abject failures at implementing the vision they campaigned on and supposedly had. When I say failures, they had to have known Joe Manchin and this woman from Arizona. They had to know that they were totally in the pockets of the most right-wing sections of the elites, the fossil fuel industry primarily. And they needed from day one to go into West Virginia and start promising and coming up with a policy that is to do with real just transition. This means you promise fossil fuel workers you won’t lose one penny of wages in the transition from fossil fuel to sustainable energy and completely undercut Manchin’s position in West Virginia. You would have forced him to go along with policies like that.

But instead, the Biden administration didn’t do that. There are other ways. What is it? Lyndon Johnson. He was known to know how to knock heads. Well, you knock heads if you have to get Manchin and this other woman on board. But that’s what the Democratic party is, and that’s kind of the problem here.

George A. Clark

And Manchin particularly has skeletons in his closet that you can use to knock heads with. I mean, his family has some issues. Biden knows that, and a lot of the neoliberals, the moderates like that plan. It’s a great idea to compensate these fossil fuel workers and pay them to transition to green jobs. A lot of them will say, well, how? We can’t afford that. Do you have any idea what that will cost? Well, I don’t know what it will cost, but I know what the—

Paul Jay

Actually, we do know. No, we do know what it will cost. Bob Pollin, the economist, modelle —

George A. Clark


Paul Jay

Actually, yeah. To maintain the income level of every fossil fuel worker in the United States for three years, it’s around $2 billion. Now just to put that into perspective, one Ford-class aircraft carrier, one, is about $14 billion. So you can buy years of subsidization by building one less aircraft carrier.

And frankly, you don’t need any aircraft carriers because one, there are already plenty. And two, they are useless because both the Russians and the Chinese can knock out one of those aircraft carriers in a matter of minutes. The whole aircraft thing carries a boondoggle. But they didn’t do it.

George A. Clark

So that’s the end of our second segment. Now, this is the second of three episodes with Paul Jay. We’ve got one more to go, and I want to encourage everybody to go back and find the earlier episodes. You can find those at podcastsbygeorge.com, on YouTube, and all the other various platforms. And we’re going to have another episode here coming up with Paul Jay as we continue.



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