- An expert on fascism and authoritarianism said Trump had to be at the Capitol to stage a coup.
- Ruth Ben-Ghiat said it explains why he wanted to march with his supporters on January 6 last year.
- She said coups require their leader to be present to anoint them under a “new order”.
Former President Donald Trump’s presence at the Capitol during the Jan. 6 attack would have been a critical factor in bringing about a successful coup that day, said historian Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a scholar on fascism and authoritarianism. leaders.
Ben-Ghiat told CNN’s Jim Acosta on Saturday that it was “interesting” how recent reports said Trump had wanted to march his supporters to the Capitol but was stopped by the Secret Service.
That revelation was first published in an April interview the former president gave to The Washington Post.
Last week, The Post also reported that the Secret Service had initially formed a quick plan to transport Trump from the White House to the Capitol after his speech at the Ellipse on the day of the attack. Despite pressure from the then president, it did not come to fruition and Trump was returned to the White House instead.
“This is consistent with when you have a coup, and you’ve summoned everyone, and you expect to be anointed as the head of an illegitimate government. You have to be there,” Ben-Ghiat said, referring to Trump.
“There’s a phase in coups — they’re violent, they’re fast, and then you have your declaration of the new order,” she continued. “And that’s why he tried to get there.”
—Alexander Hunter-Mihalić (@AlexanderCNN) June 12, 2022
Ben-Ghiat said she agreed with House Committee chairman Bennie Thompson’s Jan. 6 assessment that the Capitol attack was an attempted coup.
“I was very happy to see President Thompson use that word, because it is the right word for something that is the result of a process that, in a sense, started before November 2020, as Trump had been trying to discredit the election for several years. bring.” said Ben-Ghiat.
“Coups can take months or years to plan, and this was a multiple attempt to overthrow our democracy,” she added.
In a public hearing on Thursday, the Jan. 6 commission outlined a seven-point plan they claimed Trump and his most powerful loyalists wanted to use to undo the 2020 election. Calling up a violent mob and leading them to the Capitol, then not speaking up against the violence were two of the points in the alleged plan.
Some of the other points involved pressuring senior officials and leaders to discount or discredit the election results.
Ben-Ghiat told CNN on Saturday that Trump went “nuclear” when many of these officials refused his demands, and that he then did “what autocrats have done in the past,” meaning he used violence and called on his supporters to “get this right.” to put”. ‘monstrous mistake’ on his behalf.”
Her latest book, “Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present,” examines Trump’s actions alongside those of authoritarian leaders such as Benito Mussolini, Vladimir Putin, Muammar Gaddafi and Augusto Pinochet.