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Journalist who predicted Trump’s 2020 coup explains why his supporters’ ‘openness to violence’ is growing

December 12, 2021

Barton Gellman, a staff writer for The Atlantic, has an excellent track record when it comes to predicting the ways in which former President Donald Trump and his allies would assault U.S. democracy. Before the United States’ 2020 presidential election, Gellman predicted that Trump would attempt a coup d’état if he lost to now-President Joe Biden —which is exactly what happened. And Gellman is now warning that Trumpistas will be better equipped to pull off a coup in the 2024 election; the journalist discussed that warning during a December 7 appearance on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show.

Maddow and Gellman’s appearance on Maddow’s show followed the December 6 publication of an article headlined “Trump’s Next Coup Has Already Begun” on The Atlantic’s website. That article is also available as a cover story in the January/February 2022 issue of The Atlantic’s print edition.

Describing Gellman’s reporting as “terrifying,” Maddow asked Gellman to discuss the possibility of Republicans “throwing out thousands, if not millions, of votes in the 2024 election.”

Gellman told Maddow, “I think it’s very real. I’m personally, just as a citizen, very worried about it. I think you have people who are bound and determined not to allow Republicans to lose another national election — and not to allow Trump to lose another election. And they are giving themselves permission to do it.”

The journalist went on to say, “They are characterizing the Democrats as tyrants, as thieves of an election who actually stole the presidency, as communists, as people who hate America — and they couldn’t discuss it with any more extremity than they’re doing. When you do that, you give yourself permission to take all kinds of steps in opposition. I mean, if you have an existential threat to the United States of America — which is what Republicans are saying about Biden — then what remedy would not be allowed to you?”

Maddow asked Gellman why the “openness to violence” among “Trump supporters” has been “growing worse,” and he responded, “I think there’s a strong ongoing message that is amplified thousands of times by the whole ecosystem on the right that is a propaganda ecosystem, and it is telling people that someone stole the election from them — that the Democrats are destroying the country, that more and more so-called evidence proves these things. And yeah, I think there’s this very large mass of Trump supporters who believe both that Biden is an illegitimate president who stole the office, and that violence is justified.”

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