MSNBC analyst John Heilemann pushed a bizarre conspiracy theory Thursday about President Donald Trump's decision to send federal officers to quell riots in Portland, Oregon, and other cities.
Heilemann said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" that the president was using the law enforcement order as a trial balloon for using federal troops to stay in power should he lose the election in November.
"So, undermining a form of voting that we know is going to be more important in 2020 than ever, because of coronavirus, telling us that he's not necessarily prepared to accept the result of the election, using federal forces against peaceful protesters outside the White House and now in Portland," Heilemann said. "And increasingly encroaching on the state policing power, you know, they're trying to make it sound like Chicago is going to be different but he's setting precedents now."
The president has faced criticism after it was reported that many local governments rejected the offer of help from federal law enforcement but Trump decided to send officers anyway. Some argued that this was a breach of the balance of power between the states and the federal government.
"This is what would happen if you were an authoritarian president who was preparing to resist a loss in the election, you would be saying the things Donald Trump is saying and you would be gradually rolling out federal police power into the states, against the wishes of the mayors and governors in question," continued Heilemann.
He went on to cite Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) who said that Trump's order was unconstitutional and that it might lead to martial law being declared.
"This is how it would happen, this is how the movie would play out and anybody who is not looking at this with a state of alarm and concern and worried about, is this president going to employ formally martial law at some point, as Ron Wyden suggested yesterday, is that on the president's mind?" Heilemann asked.
"Is there anybody having watching Donald Trump for the last three and half years who doesn't think that Donald Trump would try to employ martial law if he thought that was the only way to stay in power. I ask you Joe, is there anybody who's sensible who comes on this show, who doesn't think that's possible?" he concluded.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who has been a vehement critic of the federal order, agreed to accept federal agents' help with law enforcement efforts in Chicago after a phone call with the president.