Donald Trump may have remained in power despite losing the presidential election had he marched with his supporters to breach the U.S. Capitol during last year’s insurrection, according to an expert on fascist leaders and movements.
The Secret Service reportedly explored ways to protect Trump when he told agents he wanted to accompany his followers to the building after urging them to march on the Capitol, the Jan. 6 House panel discovered in its probe. “We’re going to walk down to the Capitol,” he told a crowd of supporters.
But Trump was ultimately told it wasn’t possible in the spur of the moment, The Washington Post reported.
“If you’re having a coup and summoned everybody, and you expect to be anointed as the head of a new illegitimate government, you have to be there,” New York University History Professor Ruth Ben-Ghiat told CNN’s Jim Acosta Saturday.
“There’s a phase in coups,” explained Ben-Ghiat, author of the book “Strongmen: From Mussolini to the Present.” They’re “violent, quick, and then you have your pronouncement of the new order. That’s why he [Trump] was trying to get there.”
Ben-Ghiat said she was pleased that Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) used the word “coup” during the hearing Thursday by the Jan. 6 House committee when describing the events leading up to and including the storming of the Capitol.
“It’s the right word for something that’s the result of a process that started — in a sense it started before November 2020 because Trump had been trying to discredit elections for several years, and forming his personality cult so the faithful would rally when he summoned them,” she said.
Ben-Ghiat noted that coups can take “months or years to plan, and this was a multi-pronged attempt to overthrow our democracy.”
Ultimately, she said, Trump “went nuclear and did what autocrats have done in the past, and used violence, and summoned these people there to right this ‘monstrous’ wrong on his behalf.”
Acosta said in his introduction: “The call to arms was coming from inside the White House.”
Check out Ben-Ghiat’s full interview in the clip above. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) talks about Trump’s misinformation campaign leading up to the violence at 7:25, which is followed by Ben-Ghiat’s observations.