So What Is a Coup?

Faced with mounting pressure on an impeachment investigation from House Democrats on Tuesday night, President Trump tweeted that the investigation was in fact a “coup.” “As I learn more and more every day, I come to the conclusion that what is happening is not impeachment, it is a coup …” he wrote . “… intended to take power from the people, their voices, their freedoms, their Second Amendment, religion, military forces, the border wall and their God-given rights as a citizen of the United States of America!”

What is a coup?

Coup is an abbreviation for coup d’état, which, by its formal definition , is often used to denote a sudden, illegal takeover of power from a government. There has only been one coup in American history – the Wilmington riot of 1898, in which a group of white supremacists overthrew the local government and killed dozens of blacks.

In this case, the impeachment investigation is not illegal and is not sudden. (As we wrote earlier , this is a constitutional process that requires several steps, including voting and litigation by both the House of Representatives and the Senate.) Given the current composition of the Senate, the actual removal of President Trump from office is unlikely. And as our friends at Splinter say, a real coup requires a lot less red tape.

Has Trump used this term before?

In February, Trump first used the term to quote Sean Hannity of Fox News; That same month, Hannity scolded former FBI director Andrew McCabe for questioning Trump’s ties to Russia. In a tweet written in Hannity’s language, Trump called McCabe’s actions a “coup.”

In April, Trump used the term again during an interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News about Russia’s influence in the 2016 election. “It was an attempt to overthrow the United States government,” he told Hannity. “… I think it’s much more than Watergate.” (The Political Fact determined that since Mueller’s investigation was within the law, it was not an attempted coup.)

According to Newsweek , Trump has used the coup on at least five other occasions, either as quotes from conservative media or in connection with his alleged ties to Russia (or both).

What exactly is Trump’s purpose using this term?

According to his tweets, he is trying to challenge the illegality of the impeachment investigation (although so far there is nothing illegal in it). If he believes that the coup is an attempt to seize his power, he will be right, but he is either misinformed or deliberately persecutes his followers, defining the impeachment process established by the Constitution as an illegal act against the President.

On Wednesday, Trump continued his series of tweets, attacking Democrats and referring to the current impeachment cases as “bullshit.” Stay tuned for news on the impeachment investigation, and follow CNN in real time .


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