President Donald Trump on Friday portrayed himself as a martyr surrounded by enemies and falsely claimed he stopped a “coup” against him.
“Every day of my administration we are taking power out of Washington, D.C., and returning it to the American people where it belongs,” Trump told the NRA annual meeting in Indianapolis. “And you see it now better than ever. With all of the resignations of bad apples, they’re bad apples. They tried for a coup, it didn’t work out so well. And I didn’t need a gun for that one, did I?”
The crowd cheered his nonsensical claim. Though Trump didn’t identify the plotters, he was likely referring to a recent Fox News report that former FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page discussed developing “potential relationships” with people in Trump’s administration.
“They were trying to infiltrate the administration,” Trump told Fox News personality Sean Hannity Thursday. “Really, it’s a coup. It’s spying. It’s hard to believe in this country we would have had that.”
Fox News initially reported it was “not clear from the messages whether Strzok and Page merely sought to build bridges with the incoming administration, or wanted to engineer the briefings to investigate Trump and his associates,” according to CNN. That language no longer appears in the Fox report.
It’s also possible that the coup conspirators Trump vaguely fingered as “they” were others involved in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The president has been fiercely complaining about the probe since a redacted version of Mueller’s report was released this month, and falsely claims he has been exonerated of lawbreaking.
Trump has long seemed to delight in portraying himself as a victim of “Deep State” and other nefarious conspiracies, and has claimed without evidence in the past to have been the target of an attempted “coup.”
But that has never been the case.
A coup, as Webster’s New World College Dictionary defines it, is “a political uprising in which power changes hands.” It’s also short for coup d’état, defined as “the sudden, forcible overthrow of a ruler, government, etc., sometimes with violence, by a small group of people already having some political or military authority.”
It would not seem to apply to the case of FBI employees discussing the White House.
Trump, apparently unconcerned about the dictionary, went on about an attempted “overthrow” of his administration.
“All was taking place at the highest levels in Washington, D.C,” Trump told the gun group’s meeting. “You’ve been watching, you been seeing, you’ve been looking at things that you wouldn’t have believed possible in our country: Corruption at the highest level, a disgrace. Trying for an overthrow, and we caught ’em, we caught ’em. Who would have thought in our country?”