Media Mention

Gerson + Fried: Is Trump Planning a Coup d’État?

September 7, 2020

Note: this piece was originally published in The Nation, and features quotes from Checks & Balances members Stuart Gerson and Charles Fried. 

This summer, shortly after scores of camo-wearing, heavily armed federal agents descended on Portland, Ore., to attack protesters, Charles Fried, Ronald Reagan’s solicitor general, pondered the implications of what he was seeing on the streets. What he saw scared him; he remembered the use of paramilitaries by fascist leaders in 1930s Europe, where he was born, and he feared he was now witnessing a slide into paramilitarism in the United States. (His family fled the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia.) Fried felt that President Trump was using the Department of Homeland Security and other government agencies in a way that was “very menacing. You might as well put brown shirts on them. It’s a very bad thing.”


Stuart Gerson, who served as acting attorney general under President George H.W. Bush, says this moment increasingly reminds him of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy, which was about a “society based on predictive behavior, and then along comes a character called the Mule, who upsets the democratic applecart. Trump is the Mule. He throws norms into a cocked hat. He is an egomaniac. The sun travels around him. He thinks he’s Louis XIV.”

Read the full piece at The Nation.