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US politics

Trump’s plot to steal the presidency

Donald Trump at a rally in Iowa in October. Scott Olson/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s “next coup has already begun”, says Barton Gellman in a podcast for The Atlantic. The 6 January attack on the Capitol was a mere “rehearsal”, and the former president is now “much better positioned to subvert the next election” in 2024. He has the Republican party “in his thrall”, with almost all its members in the House of Representatives claiming that the 2020 election was stolen. And at state level, Republican operatives have been driving out election officials they perceive as disloyal, “building an apparatus of election theft”.

Just as important, Trump has been priming his base not to accept another defeat. More than 20 million American adults are thought to be “committed insurrectionists”. They believe Joe Biden is an illegitimate president and that violence is justified to restore Trump to the White House. These people aren’t “lone wolves or small cells”, as the current administration suggests – this is a “new, politically violent mass movement”. What binds them together is not age, socioeconomic status or geography, but a fear that the white population in America is in decline. Democracy itself will be on trial in 2024, and the Democrats “are not behaving as if they believe the threat is real”.

Listen to the podcast here.