New York (CNN Business) – A meeting President Donald Trump held to discuss reversal of the election result, in which he mentioned martial law, alarmed some White House staff, people who are used to Trump’s inflammatory and undemocratic rhetoric.
With just one month left for President-elect Joe Biden to take office, Trump has been stepping up his efforts to remain president, while trying to convince millions of Americans that voter fraud is to blame for his presidential defeat.
Thats nothing new. But a heated meeting in the Oval Office on Friday in which Trump heard arguments about invoking martial law to remain in office caused some Trump officials to sound the alarm to the press.
Michael Flynn, Trump’s pardoned former National Security adviser, discussed the martial law plan on the right-wing television network Newsmax last week and was invited to the White House on Friday.
Trump dismissed the reports about the martial law discussion as ‘fake news’ in a tweet on Sunday, but two people familiar with the matter told CNN the plan was discussed in the Oval Office on Friday, though it’s unclear whether Trump backed the idea.
LOOK: Heated meeting at the White House included talks about a special counsel, martial law and clashes between Trump advisers
However, even the mention of martial law can fan the flames of many supporters who cling to the belief that the election result was fraudulent. That could incite violence to make the idea a reality.
“In the conspiratorial conservative base that supports Trump there are calls to use the Insurrection Act to declare martial law,” said Elizabeth Neumann, former Assistant Secretary for Homeland Security under President Trump and an advisor to Defending Democracy Together, on CNN’s Reliable Sources.
“When they hear that the president is really considering this, there are violent extremist groups that see this as a dog whistle, an excuse to go out and create… violence,” he said.
It’s a concept she calls “acceleration,” in which violent extremist groups, especially white supremacists, try to overthrow the US government. These groups believe that it will take place through a civil war and seek to “accelerate the chaos, accelerate the coming of civil war.”
“So when they hear that the president is open to this idea of martial law, we may see certain groups mobilizing to commit acts that, in their minds, justify the use of the Insurrection Law,” Neumann said.
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