A former White House national security official, and key impeachment witness said Trump attempted a ‘self-coup’ in Capitol siege

  • Fiona Hill, a former White House national security official, said President Donald Trump had attempted a “self-coup” by inciting his supporter base to storm the Capitol on January 6.
  • In an op-ed published Monday by Politico, Hill detailed why she considered the January 6 incident as a “coup,” though there are some who disagree with her.
  • “Trump disguised what he was doing by operating in plain sight, talking openly about his intent,” Hill wrote. “He normalized his actions so people would accept them. I’ve been studying authoritarian regimes for three decades, and I know the signs of a coup when I see them.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A former White House national security official said President Donald Trump attempted a “self-coup” by inciting his supporters to storm the Capitol building.

Fiona Hill, who served under the Bush, Obama, and Trump administrations and was a key witness in Trump’s impeachment, wrote an op-ed Monday detailing what she believed was the president’s role in the insurrection attempt on January 6.

“Since last Wednesday, people have been arguing what to call what happened at the US Capitol — was it a riot? An uprising? An insurrection?” Hill wrote in the op-ed published by Politico. “I’ve been public in calling it a coup, but others disagree.”

She laid out points as to why she considered the events that transpired at the Capitol a coup, saying that the unprecedented storming of the Capitol was the “culmination of a series of actions and events taken or instigated by Trump so he could retain the presidency that together amount to an attempt at a self-coup.”

“Trump disguised what he was doing by operating in plain sight, talking openly about his intent,” Hill wrote. “He normalized his actions so people would accept them.”

“I’ve been studying authoritarian regimes for three decades, and I know the signs of a coup when I see them.”

Read more: Trump was deliberately ‘trying to stage a coup,’ a former White House national-security official says

In the op-ed, Hill outlined what she called a “standard coup ‘checklist'” that analysts use to assess whether certain incidents can be considered a coup, which includes the military, communications, the judiciary, government institutions, and the legislature.

“The truth is that for the past four years, Trump has been stress testing the US democratic system to see if anyone will rein him in,” the former national security official wrote. “Consider how many times he stated that he ‘deserved’ two or even three terms in office because he was treated ‘unfairly’ or ‘cheated’ out of the first two years of his presidency by the ‘Russia hoax,’ the Mueller investigation and last year’s impeachment trial.”

“Throughout 2020, when his poll ratings faltered, the president laid the groundwork for what would become the Big Lie that he won the election,” she added.

Read moreWe analyzed 23 memos from CEOs responding to the US Capitol riot. The most effective messages get personal.

She went on to ask congressional Republicans who supported Trump’s challenges to the election results to “take personal responsibility for their actions in support of Trump’s coup attempt” in order to “restore democratic norms and make sure this does not happen again.”

“They must tell the truth to their constituents about the election and what the president tried to do in January 2021,” Hill said. “They owe it to the people they represent as well as the country they serve.”

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