Peter Navarro has long been a peculiar member of Donald Trump's team. Even the circumstances in which the conspiratorial economist joined the Republican's operation was odd.
In 2016, then-candidate Trump directed Jared Kushner to help bolster his views on China. The son-in-law went to Amazon.com, was impressed by the title of a book Navarro wrote, and cold-called him. Navarro joined Team Trump as an economic adviser soon after.
As regular readers know, in the years that followed, Navarro became a strange political voice on the Republican's White House team, and in early 2020, for reasons that went unexplained, Trump tapped Navarro to serve on the White House Coronavirus Taskforce — where he earned a reputation for picking strange fights in the Situation Room over hydroxychloroquine.
But it was after Trump's defeat when Navarro took on an entirely different role: He helped plot an American coup.
We know this, of course, because Navarro keeps implicitly acknowledging that he helped plot an American coup.
The Daily Beast reported last week, for example, that the economist partnered with Steve Bannon on a scheme they labeled "the Green Bay Sweep," which involved a series of ridiculous steps intended to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. This was not an investigative report that uncovered a secret: Navarro described the plot in his newest book and boasted about it when asked.
"We spent a lot of time lining up over 100 congressmen, including some senators," Navarro said. "It started out perfectly." He similarly bragged to Rolling Stone about the anti-election strategy he tried to help implement.
This week, Navarro echoed his ideas to my MSNBC colleague, Ari Melber. The Daily Beast summarized yesterday:
The ex-Trump official replied with an equal parts long-winded and self-imploding answer that outlined his precise plan to overturn the 2020 election. "The [Green Bay] Sweep was simply that. We were gonna challenge the results of the election in the six battleground states. They were Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Wisconsin, Nevada," Navarro said. "And basically, these were the places where we believed that if the votes were sent back to those battleground states and looked at again, that there would be enough concern amongst the legislatures that most or all of those states would decertify the election."
Melber asked in response, "Do you realize you are describing a coup?" Navarro contested the premise and made the case that key secretaries of state had been "put in power by George Soros for the express purpose of shifting the playing field to the Democrats."
He did not appear to be kidding. (Remember, this guy was in a position of influence in the White House for four years.)
Stepping back, there are a couple of angles to keep in mind. The first involves acknowledging just how breathtaking it is to see a former presidential advisor describe his actions this way — in public, on the record, and even in writing.
A Washington Post analysis noted that we've reached "the 'Yeah, it was pretty much an attempted coup, so what?' stage of the Jan. 6 probe." The piece added, "[W]hat's remarkable here — while also familiar — is how forthrightly Navarro is copping to the plot, as if it was no big deal, really."
The second angle of note is the question about the legality of Navarro's scheme.
The economist and his confederates planned to use lies about the election as a pretext to justify keeping the losing presidential candidate in power, democracy be damned. Rachel asked on the show last night, is that legal? Does it constitute a conspiracy to overthrow the United States government for sure?
I don't know, but I hope the Justice Department is considering the questions.