Trump’s Tweet About Civil War Was Just What the Far Right Oath Keepers Wanted to Hear

The group jumped onto Twitter to defend the President.

Trump gives a speech in front of a portrait of Abraham Lincoln.Andrew Harnik/AP

Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.

In yet another presidential first, this week Donald Trump warned of an impending civil war in the United States—via Twitter, of course. On Sunday night, Trump paraphrased Robert Jeffress, a baptist-preacher-turned-Fox-News-pundit, tweeting: “If the Democrats are successful in removing the President from office (which they will never be), it will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal.”

The online reactions to the tweet were far ranging. #CivilWar2 started trending. A Harvard Law professor claimed the tweet itself was grounds for impeachment. A Republican representative disavowed the tweet as “beyond repugnant.”

Meanwhile, a right-wing militia group called the Oath Keepers weighed in to agree with Trump.

The Oath Keepers describe themselves as an anti-government “patriot” group whose members pledge to uphold the constitution if a tyrannical president declares martial law. The group believes that day is imminent, and is constantly looking for evidence of a Deep state conspiracy to back their ideology. As Mother Jones reported back in 2010, the group consists largely of soldiers, police, and veterans, like Lee Pray, who runs training drills with fellow Oath Keepers to prepare for when that day inevitably comes:

Pray (who asked me to use his middle name rather than his first) and five fellow soldiers based at Fort Drum take this directive very seriously. In the belief that the government is already turning on its citizens, they are recruiting military buddies, stashing weapons, running drills, and outlining a plan of action. For years, they say, police and military have trained side by side in local anti-terrorism exercises around the nation. In September 2008, the Army began training the 3rd Infantry’s 1st Brigade Combat Team to provide humanitarian aid following a domestic disaster or terror attack—and to help with crowd control and civil unrest if need be. (The ACLU has expressed concern about this deployment.) And some of Pray’s comrades were guinea pigs for military-grade sonic weapons, only to see them used by Pittsburgh police against protesters last fall…

In Pray’s estimate, it might not be long (months, perhaps a year) before President Obama finds some pretext—a pandemic, a natural disaster, a terror attack—to impose martial law, ban interstate travel, and begin detaining citizens en masse. One of his fellow Oath Keepers, a former infantryman, advised me to prepare a “bug out” bag with 39 items including gas masks, ammo, and water purification tablets, so that I’d be ready to go “when the shit hits the fan.”

With Trump in the Oval Office, the group’s longstanding antagonism toward the presidency appears to have waned; they’ve pivoted to viewing the president not as the perpetrator of Deep state collusion, but the victim.

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Or at least we hope. It’s fall fundraising time, and we’re trying to raise $250,000 to help fund Mother Jones’ journalism during a shorter than normal three-week push.

If you’re reading this, a fundraising pitch at the bottom of an article, you must find our team’s reporting valuable and we hope you’ll consider supporting it with a donation of any amount right now if you can.

It’s really that simple. But if you’d like to read a bit more, our membership lead, Brian Hiatt, has a post for you highlighting some of our newsroom's impressive, impactful work of late—including two big investigations in just one day and covering voting rights the way it needs to be done—that we hope you'll agree is worth supporting.

payment methods

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Or at least we hope. It’s fall fundraising time, and we’re trying to raise $250,000 to help fund Mother Jones’ journalism during a shorter than normal three-week push.

If you’re reading this, a fundraising pitch at the bottom of an article, you must find our team’s reporting valuable and we hope you’ll consider supporting it with a donation of any amount right now if you can.

It’s really that simple. But if you’d like to read a bit more, our membership lead, Brian Hiatt, has a post for you highlighting some of our newsroom's impressive, impactful work of late—including two big investigations in just one day and covering voting rights the way it needs to be done—that we hope you’ll agree is worth supporting.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate