A reply to Chris Caldwell.
From Death Threats to Lies
TIP’s caught-out coupsters epitomize ruling-class values.
I must have hit a nerve. First Nils Gilman’s death threat, then a libelous attack in the Financial Times, in-house newsletter of the globalist ruling glass.
A little background:
Earlier this month, I published an article entitled “The Coming Coup?” in which I wondered aloud what the Democrats are up to with all their talk about “dragging Trump from the White House on January 20” and urging Biden not to concede “under any circumstances.” All I did was quote their own words: the words of Democratic grandees such as Joe Biden, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, and John Podesta; the words of two highly-placed Democratic former Army officers who urged the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs to use the 82nd Airborne to remove the President; and the words of the now-notorious “Transition Integrity Project” (TIP) report, which promised, among other things, a “street fight” in the event of a Biden loss.
The article went viral on the Right and in pro-Trump circles almost immediately. But the (so-called) mainstream media paid no attention, nor did anyone associated with the TIP.
Then, suddenly, the plotters broke their silence. I don’t know what changed. Did the TIP leadership conclude that I had, by exposing their plans, damaged their chances of success? In reality, I exposed nothing. They had already exposed it all. All I did was summarize a plot hidden in plain sight.
This is a prime example of what I call—in my book The Stakes: America at the Point of No Return—the “celebration parallax”: a fact pattern is either true and glorious or false and scurrilous depending on who states it. If you’re for installing Joe Biden as president no matter what, then you can write open letters to the generals calling on the military to remove Trump. If you’re against the election results being subverted, overturned, or ignored in Biden’s favor, then to quote the TIP’s own words back at them is a dangerous conspiracy theory.
Gilman’s death threat has been covered extensively elsewhere. I may also have more to say about it later. It’s important to note here that, in addition to being Vice President of Programs at the Berggruen Institute, Gilman is a co-founder of the TIP.
Then another TIPster (as it were) came forward, this time not to threaten me with death but to allege that I am a fool. Epistemological humility requires me to admit that may actually be true. But if so, not for the reason alleged.
Some more background:
In 2017, while serving in the Trump administration, I attended a conference at the urging of Steve Hadley, for whom I had worked on George W. Bush’s National Security Council and who had been gracious and helpful to me as I prepared, during the 2016-2017 transition, to start work on the Trump National Security Council.
The attendees were overwhelmingly Democratic former national security officials, “Never Trump” “Republicans,” academics, and media figures—in other words, all members in good standing of the ruling class. Out of 40 participants, only four were not hostile: Hadley, Michael Brendan Dougherty (a Trump-skeptical American), Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry (a French intellectual with a populist bent), and the director of the foundation sponsoring the conference. Nearly everyone else—including senior-most former American diplomats, some of them very big names—treated me shabbily. It got so bad that at one point Steve found it necessary to take me aside and personally apologize.
It was clear from the opening session that I was there for one chief reason. Most other participants really hated (and still hate) Trump but had no way to express their displeasure directly to the president or anyone in his administration. They wanted an opportunity to give someone an earful. I was there to take the blows.
The rule at this conference, as explained to me, is “Chatham House.” Here is the definition of the Chatham House Rule, from Chatham House itself (which was not, to be clear, the sponsor of this particular conference):
When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.
Imagine my surprise, then, at being alerted to the following item by Edward Luce of the Financial Times in his most recent “newsletter.” Luce, like Gilman, is also a member of TIP. In their recent wargame—the one that culminated in Joe Biden not conceding after losing in the Electoral College—Luce played the part of the media.
Most of Luce’s newsletter item attacking me amounts to quibbling over the context of the quotes I cited without denying any of them. If I am wrong and the TIP and its various Democratic allies have no intention of manipulating the electoral system to ensure Biden is installed as president no matter what, Luce or Gilman or any of the others could say so. I for one would welcome their denials. But they haven’t made any.
Instead, Gilman at least expressed a desire and at most outright threatened to have me killed, and now Luce is attempting to discredit me with the assertion that I’m dumb.
Here is his relevant paragraph:
One final point; in late 2017 I attended a weekend retreat hosted by a think-tank in which Anton was also a participant. At the time he was a spokesman for Trump’s National Security Council. He was asked why Trump had withdrawn the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. His reply was that the US did not want to belong to a trade group that included China. When we pointed out that China did not belong to the TPP, he looked surprised. We pressed him to specify which provisions within the TPP Trump disliked. I will never forget Anton’s reply. He hadn’t read it, he admitted. And nor had Trump.
This is almost all a lie.
Trump’s objection to the TPP, which I well knew then and still know now, was that he didn’t want to do any more multilateral trade agreements. He thought that the wider the deal—i.e., the more countries in them—the more the U.S. loses. The president said on the campaign trail, and has repeated ever since, that he is happy to make bilateral trade agreements, emphatically including with those countries in the TPP, but has no interest in entering into any new multilateral trade agreements.
Luce (whom I couldn’t describe to a police sketch artist and don’t even have a recollection of ever having met) conveniently leaves out that Hillary herself, under pressure from Trump, said during the 2016 campaign that if elected she would pull the U.S. out of the TPP.
Luce is simply lying when he says I thought China was in the TPP. I have reached out to Dougherty and Gobry, both of whom share my recollection of this non-event and both of whom gave me permission to say so using their names.
I knew then, and know now, what the TPP was. In 2016, I wrote extensively on the TPP in 2016 on my blog the Journal of American Greatness, defending Trump’s pledge to withdraw America from the deal, specifically against the charge that such a withdrawal would help China because (as it was alleged) the TPP was designed to isolate China.
It’s also inconceivable that anyone who knows anything about trade or foreign affairs could possibly believe that even the Obama Administration—much less a Trump Administration!—would ever accept China into a U.S.-led multilateral deal, or that the regime in Beijing would join a new multilateral trade deal of which it is not the head, especially one led by the United States. Luce is essentially accusing me of believing in the tooth fairy, or alchemy. I make no special claim to trade expertise; but does anyone serious really think I’m that ignorant?
Finally, Luce’s point that I hadn’t read the TPP is totally disingenuous. Has anyone ever read an entire trade deal, most of which are so voluminous their texts must be delivered with forklifts? Does even the United States Trade Representative ever read a trade deal cover-to-cover? Does Luce think Hillary Clinton read the entire TPP text herself when she pledged to take the USA out of the agreement? More to the point, has Luce himself ever read it?
Cards on the Table
It’s pretty obvious what’s going on here. TIP’s initial strategy of ignoring criticism of their open coup talk was starting to fail. They realized they needed to get back on the offensive. Hence the recent slate of “Trump Is Attempting a Coup!” articles, on which I hope to have more to say later. These latest attacks are part of a counteroffensive, pure and simple.
But note also what they say about the ethics of ruling class propagandists. Not only was an elite institution’s confidentiality rule wantonly violated, and a story completely made up and dropped into the media three years after it allegedly occurred (shades of the “Trump Disparaged the Troops!” lie of earlier this month). But the venue was also carefully chosen: an event of which there is otherwise no record. Presto: Luce can say whatever he wants confident that he can’t be contradicted except by me, and perhaps by a few other participants. He knows that (almost!) everyone else in the room was and is on his side and will back up whatever he says, and certainly not contradict it, for the cause.
Plus, those on the “correct” side can make death threats with total impunity. Neither the social media platform on which the threat is made nor the well-funded organizations for which they work will so much as tsk-tsk them. To the contrary, they can easily marshal ruling class allies to quote-tweet assurances that the threat was not a threat, that the target deserved it, that, indeed, the target owes an apology to the threat-maker!
This is who they are. Understand that and remember it.
In the meantime, I contacted the conference organizers, who treated me well and in whom I have confidence, and asked that they address this matter. At their urging—which I appreciate and have thanked them for—the offending paragraph was removed from Luce’s newsletter. But not before it had been cut and pasted into Twitter threads, to circulate on the internet for all time. Nor did Luce, in keeping with a basic rule of online journalism, acknowledge his edit or apologize for its original inclusion.
Edit or no, the damage has been done. Many people have seen the charge. It is surely unfair to allow people casually to make allegations and then, when challenged, allow them silently, without acknowledgment or apology, pretend that the allegations were never made. And then expect those against whom the allegations were made to maintain complete silence.
I for one will not be silent.