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Calls for 'Martial Law' Spark Outrage

A former GOP lawmaker says it's 'utterly insane'
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 5, 2020 11:30 AM CST

(Newser) – Michael Flynn and a top Pentagon nominee are under fire for backing conspiracy theories that urge President Trump to overturn the 2020 election results by declaring martial law, CNN reports. They claim without evidence that Trump won in "landslide fashion" and Joe Biden's victory was fraudulent. "I don't know who needs to hear this," said a Twitter account retweeted by Flynn, who was recently pardoned by Trump. "But calling for martial law is not a bad idea when there is an attempted coup against the president and this country happening right now." The story is gaining media traction despite Attorney General William Barr's statement this week that "we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election." For more:

  • 'Trump won': Scott O'Grady, Trump's pick for a senior Pentagon position, is among retired military officials who are promoting conspiracy theories that sometimes call for martial law, NPR reports. In his tweets and media appearances, O'Grady has said that "Trump won & Biden & his Comrades will now attempt a coup"; called former President Obama and military generals "sworn socialists"; retweeted a message calling former Defense Secretary James Mattis a "traitor"; and urged Trump to declare martial law. Trump himself has spread conspiracy theories claiming the election was stolen.

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  • 'Insane': The notion that America's military would step in and oversee a second federal election is "insane in a year that we didn’t think could get anymore insane," a defense official tells the Military Times. A Syracuse University professor calls the idea "preposterous," adding that "state and now federal investigators have found no evidence of election fraud" and martial law "has no place in the United States absent a complete breakdown of civil governing mechanisms."
  • An 'outrage': "It seems that Donald Trump is trying to conscript people to help him overturn or steal an election where he didn’t like the outcome," said former GOP Rep. Charlie Dent, who called Flynn's tweet an "outrage," per WBAP. On CNN, he said the martial law idea was "simply insane."
  • We the People: Flynn has tweeted support for a tea-party affiliated group in Ohio called We the People, which recently placed an ad in the Washington Times calling for martial law and another election, per Fox 19. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, a Republican, calls the ad "utterly irresponsible, ahistorical and without precedent or legal rationale."
  • Trump's powers: Business Insider reports that Trump can declare martial law but cannot undo or alter an election—a power bestowed to Congress. The outlet notes that Biden won 306 Electoral College votes and the popular vote, and while Republicans have filed over two dozen lawsuits nationwide to void the election results, "they haven't won a single case so far."
(Trump has installed allies on a Pentagon advisory board.)

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