[T]here is something familiar about the unnerving sensation that Romney is feeling late on the afternoon of January 2, 2021.
It begins with a text message from Angus King, the junior senator from Maine: “Could you give me a call when you get a chance? Important.”
Romney calls, and King informs him of a conversation he’s just had with a high-ranking Pentagon official. Law enforcement has been tracking online chatter among right-wing extremists who appear to be planning something bad on the day of Donald Trump’s upcoming rally in Washington, D.C. The president has been telling them the election was stolen; now they’re coming to steal it back. There’s talk of gun smuggling, of bombs and arson, of targeting the traitors in Congress who are responsible for this travesty. Romney’s name has been popping up in some frightening corners of the internet, which is why King needed to talk to him. He isn’t sure Romney will be safe.
Romney hangs up and immediately begins typing a text to Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader. McConnell has been indulgent of Trump’s deranged behavior over the past four years, but he’s not crazy. He knows that the election wasn’t stolen, that his guy lost fair and square. He sees the posturing by Republican politicians for what it is. He’ll want to know about this, Romney thinks. He’ll want to protect his colleagues, and himself.
Romney sends his text: “In case you have not heard this, I just got a call from Angus King, who said that he had spoken with a senior official at the Pentagon who reports that they are seeing very disturbing social media traffic regarding the protests planned on the 6th. There are calls to burn down your home, Mitch; to smuggle guns into DC, and to storm the Capitol. I hope that sufficient security plans are in place, but I am concerned that the instigator—the President—is the one who commands the reinforcements the DC and Capitol police might require.”
McConnell never responds. [Continue reading…]