Jan. 6 was a horrible day, but it wasn't a coup attempt since Trump was still the president

By Gary Abernathy

The rioters weren’t trying to throw Trump out of office

I’m not a big fan of the House January 6 select committee hearings for a number of reasons, first and foremost because it’s clear that it’s a partisan effort designed to reach a preordained conclusion: the indictment of Donald Trump and, more disturbingly, anyone who supported him for president or still supports him now. Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s refusal to seat two of the Republican congressmen chosen by GOP leader Kevin McCarthy for the panel was nonsense. They couldn’t handle a couple of Republicans who might ask a few different questions?

About 800 people were involved in the riot inside the U.S. Capitol. Hundreds of them have already been charged with crimes, as they should be. Millions of other Trump supporters did not participate in the riot, but in too many cases they’re being painted with the same brush by politicians and media pundits.

The testimony of the four officers who appeared Tuesday was often riveting, and they undoubtedly experienced life-changing trauma that they never thought would happen. But it was also clear that the Democrats controlling the hearings chose, from among numerous possibilities, four officers who would politicize their testimony the most, making sure to engage in a full-throated indictment of Trump and his supporters in general.

The attack on the Capitol on January 6 was one of the most shameful, embarrassing moments in our history. It was many things, none of which are good or defensible. Nothing about it should be downplayed in any way, as I hear too many do. However, it is often characterized incorrectly as a coup attempt. That happened Tuesday, when Sgt. Aquilino Gonell of the Capitol Police said the attack was an “attempted coup.”

It was not. A coup — or, more accurately, a coup d'état — is “a sudden decisive exercise of force in politics, especially the violent overthrow or alteration of an existing government by a small group,” according to Werriam-Webster. Likewise, Encyclopedia Britannica says a coup is “the sudden, violent overthrow of an existing government by a small group,” and adds, “The chief prerequisite for a coup is control of all or part of the armed forces, the police, and other military elements.”

When the attack happened, Trump was still president, and would be for another two weeks. He was the “existing government.” Clearly, the rioters were not attempting to overthrow the Trump administration, which was still in charge. Nor did the rioters have control or cooperation of the armed forces, the police or other military elements, which Britannica calls a prerequisite for a coup.

I don’t quibble too much with how people want to label the rioters. Terrorists? Insurrectionists? Have at it. I’m on board with condemning the attack on our Capitol in just about the harshest terms anyone wants to use. It was an attack on democracy, an effort to disrupt and stop a constitutionally-mandated process being led by the vice president of the United States. Rioters crashed through doors and windows. Capitol security officers were attacked. Property was destroyed. Offices were ransacked. The vice president, members of Congress and many others had to flee for their lives. People died. Trump bears responsibility for not tamping down the emotions of the rioters before he sent them to the Capitol. It was one of the most shameful moments in U.S. history.

It represented many horrible things rolled into one terrible day. But it was not a coup, or an attempted coup.

Talking civility with Martha Zoller on WDUN in Georgia

I enjoyed being on the Martha Zoller Show this morning on WDUN radio in Gainesville, Ga. Martha began her talk radio career in 1994. In 1997, she won a GABBY for Best Locally Produced Talk Show in Georgia from the Georgia Association of Broadcasters, and has won many more industry awards over the years. She has appeared on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC. Her first book, “Indivisible: Uniting Values in a Divided America,” was released in 2005 from Stroud and Hall Publishers.

We talked about my latest Washington Post column, and the lack of civility in politics today. A podcast of the show is linked here. (You have to go to the menu, find “podcasts on demand,” choose Martha Zoller’s show, listen to the one from 7/28/2021. I come on at about the 1:29 mark.)

Trump was uncivil? Biden, Pelosi are joining the crowd

Former president Donald Trump gets criticized for his uncivil tone, and the critics were often right. But did it become contagious?

Earlier this week, President Biden said, “If you’re not vaccinated, you’re not nearly as smart as I thought you were.” Seriously?

Today, Speaker Nancy Pelosi called GOP House leader Kevin McCarthy a “moron” after he complained about the House mask mandate. According to CNN, “‘He's such a moron,’ Pelosi, a California Democrat, said while getting into her SUV outside the Capitol, when asked about the House minority leader.”

Of course, Pelosi demonstrated that side of her personality when she ripped up Trump’s State of the Union address just after he delivered it in February 2020. Many in the media loved her for it, of course, but it revealed a mean-spirited side of her and belied any claim to the high ground on her part.

Sign up or share this newsletter

Please sign up to receive this newsletter directly into your inbox or, if you are already a subscriber and reading this by email, share with a friend using the convenient button below. Thank you!

Share Abernathy Road