Donald Trump Runs the Military & The Role of Militias – Jordan Klepper Fingers the Conspiracy

By | November 30, 2022

If Donald Trump is still allegedly the president, does that also mean he’s in charge of the military? According to MAGA rally goers, yes. Jordan Klepper dives deeper into conspiracy theories surrounding the military with Paul Szoldra, the editor of The Ruck, a weekly newsletter focused on defense and national security. They discuss theories like Jade Helm, how servicemembers react to conspiracy theories, and how high-ranking officials like General Michael Flynn abuse their credibility to spread them. They are joined by Dr. Amy Cooter of Middlebury College who breaks down her research on militia groups like the Oath Keepers, the overlap between members and veterans, and how militias approach “defending” their country. #DailyShow #JordanKlepper #Podcast

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It's been two years since Donald Trump Lost the 2020 election and although a Stubbornly high number of Republicans Still don't believe he lost they are at Least coming around to the reality that He is no longer the president who is Running the government right now President Trump Well Most of them are for some the truth is Just too much to bear I found this out Firsthand but I was told at a Maga rally That Trump is still in charge of the Military he's running the government and The military and he's running the Military so we should blame him for what Happened in Afghanistan No thank you for talking to me George Enjoy seeing president current president Trump it makes me think of that famous Courtroom quote from A Few Good Men you Can't handle the truth although if you Think about it that's a quote from Colonel Nathan R Jessup Who as a member Of the military of logic follows still Reports to Donald Trump damn it check Made it again [Music] This Jordan klepper figures the Conspiracy and today we're talking about The military the Trump is still in Charge of the military conspiracy theory It's just one of many military-related Conspiracy theories and we have two

People here with us today who know a lot About them and the people who believe Them both outside and inside military Ranks they are Paul zoldra a veteran who Covers military issues and is the editor Of the Weekly Newsletter of the rock That focuses on National Security and Defense and we're also joined by Dr Amy Cooter of Middlebury College who has Studied and spent time with militia Groups like The Oath Keepers guys Welcome aboard nice to be here Thank you for having me good to have you Guys all right Paul I want to start here Help us understand the logic behind the Theory that Donald Trump is still in Charge of the military I mean even with Ivanka bailing on the campaign I'm not Even convinced he's in charge of his Family anymore walk us through this how Is he in charge of the military Well Jordan he's the commander-in-chief Still he didn't lose the election I mean Didn't you didn't you read that that's How it works if you believe it you can Achieve it and or convince a bunch of Other people you have achieved it it Seems wild so why do people actually Think this Um it really boils down to his a lot of His supporters uh believe that he he did Not lose the election Um and you know that's Kind of coming into uh an interesting uh

Interesting part where he's running for Re-election now Um even though he didn't lose the last Election But uh even still Um yeah he's the commander-in-chief and So if he's if he's still the president Of the United States then he's still the Commander-in-chief and he's still has Pole in the military and um and and oh By the way Um a whole bunch of the military is is Is supportive of trump and and we'll We'll you know go with his every word I Hope the sarcasm is coming through by The way I under I I can hear some of the Sarcasm in there I guess what helped me Walk through a little bit of it sounds It sounds ridiculous but it's not the Only time I've heard this out and about I know people are denying the idea that Donald Trump lost the election but there Are people who still believe okay he Lost and Biden is in charge but that There is something going on that we Cannot see where Donald Trump is in Charge of the military apparatus can you Speak to that mindset I know it's it's Not true but speak to the mindset what Is something like that Come from why are there people who are Grasping onto this is there like a Military idea that there is some sort of Shadow General Shadow leader like what

What draws people to this other than the Inability to let go uh of the idea that Trump is still president Well I think it would come I think Primarily you look back to the Q Anon uh Conspiracy of of you know the the there There's this big you know massive Underground you know lizard Galaxy of of Uh you know Democrats and celebrities uh You know stealing children and and doing All kinds of stuff and that all came From uh uh a person calling himself Himself Q uh you know many people became Convinced by this this whole idea of Getting really highly classified Information inside the government and The idea was at that time was q q was Was inside you know it was it was Supportive of the Trump Administration And fighting back against the the So-called deep State uh that is that is Trying to thwart his agenda and so you Know if you if you think that if you can Believe that that there's some you know Person inside the government who's not Only sharing all this really highly Classified information with The public on a message board Uh I don't see much uh separation I Don't see how you you know how we go From that to believing that Trump is Still president that's not that wacky When you think about it you know I think What always what always makes me laugh

Within it though is the the belief in The fun Parts the wearing of the uniform And the stars and the power but none of The accountability of what has happened You know we discuss the critical things That people are critical of the Afghanistan withdrawal and the person That I talked to very clearly was like No no he had nothing to do with that It's almost as if you know in military Parlance you have a dress uniform Correct I'm not somebody who was in the Military but I've definitely watched Films that are about the military and I'm to understand that you have a dress Uniform and you also has an infantry man You're in the Marines correct correct Yes you also have something you might Wear functionally to go do dirtier more Applicable things right camouflage yes Camo I knew it camo I've done all the Research and it's as if believing in This theory is a belief that you only Get to wear your dress whites and that There is no secondary part to it all Which is sort of emblematic of the whole American thought process Um I I think you you actually you bring Up a really good point which is a lot of These conspiracy theories They hinge on people's ignorance of the Military you know less than less than One percent of the of Americans serve in The military it's a very small number

During World War II uh we had about 10 Of of the of Americans in the in in the Military and of course we're fighting a Gigantic war and that makes sense but That um that number is is so much Smaller now and so what we what I found From Um you know just reporting on these Issues for the past decade being in the Marine Corps before that most people Have no idea how the military works you Know I I think Um a lot of people think that we just You know March around we salute and and Then you know they like press a button Break glass and you go to war and like There's a black box in there nobody Really understands what it's actually Like cake and and you know the thing is That most of it's really boring you know We're just sitting around waiting Waiting to do things Um we're doing maintenance or other Kinds of stuff but those are less sexy Parts of the military that the the Military itself doesn't really share all That much with the public Um and you know that ignorance really Feeds these ideas you know that the Military is you know doing nefarious Things and you know they're up to no Good and and also Um also the the idea that the military Can do these amazing things with ease

You know like uh like like the Benghazi Attack could have just been stopped just Just easily by uh by you know the Military just swooping in there with Jets from Italy and stuff like that Um it takes more planning and and Actually you know diving in and figuring Out how to actually do things uh it's It's like um I it's it's almost like a Comic book caricature of of the military Is what what you get from from a lot of Americans who just you know don't really Know any better so you're telling me if Even if you've played Call of Duty That's not enough information to fully Understand how the military works I mean The call it call of duty is realistic For combat experience an upset enough Said enough said well I I I much like if You've watched Wag the Dog you Understand American politics as well That and maybe half of American President you get it you know how this Thing works now you should talk about it And fear the institutions in and of Themselves if Call of Duty was more Realistic there would be soldiers Sitting around really bored you know Smoking cigarettes uh you know really You know bitching about their chain of Command and complaining about Um complaining about you know going out On patrol that day like that's that's The more realistic version of combat

Operations the the joke is like the joke Is like you know combat is is 90 or one Percent sheer Terror and 99 boredom Right and that that usually is is is Pretty accurate yeah so like bitching And moaning is a part of the military so Play your Call of Duty but then make Sure you watch a good season of Curb Your Enthusiasm to get the full Understanding right I knew it I knew it Uh I I want to actually fill out this We're talking about the military here But sort of our conversation today is Going to fold in also the worlds of uh Militias and citizen militians so I want To bring Amy in Amy a lot of these Conspiracy theories they become Incoherent the further you look into Them but I want to talk about what You've studied citizen militias can you Define for audience what is a militia Compared to what being in the military Is and also as somebody who studied Who's talked about militias I'm curious If you have a malicious code name Because I do and it's cold brew and it Got me a lot of cred with the Georgia State militia does everybody here get a Cool nickname yes sir if you don't have One we'll help uh get one for you could I be a cold brew or if that's taken a French press Cold Brew Works better I think you like That yes sir feels very bold yet smooth

Finish Well to start with your first question Um U.S domestic militias are civilian Militias they are intended to exist Outside the military outside the National Guard and their members are People who really see it as their Personal civic duty to kind of act in Concert in some ways with the military To be almost a civilian line of defense Against potentially Invasion potentially Natural disasters anything in between a Lot of the members actually have Military training among the groups I Studied about two-thirds of the leaders And about one-third of the other members Had some service experience and many of The others who did not kind of felt like They had missed out they had wanted to Be in the service but didn't qualify Medically or for some other reason Didn't get that service and this was Almost like a surrogate for them their Experiences were really about trying to In their view stand up for their country Defend the Constitution and the American Way of life in terms of how they Specifically defined it and as to a code Name do you have a code name some of Them actually did call me renegade Because I would study them at a time When it was not really popular for uh Liberal academics to be dealing with More conservative topics well I would

Say this I was talking with Amy offline A little bit about this but uh I I read Amy's dissertation years ago because I'm I am fascinated about militias I'm from Michigan which if you're into militias Michigan's a great place to be we got Some OG militia action happening there Um and I think what is fascinating about It is uh there's a lot of talk about the Effects of militias and extremist groups Uh recently but you've been doing this For quite some time right now what a lot Of people I don't think look into is What is appealing about militias uh the Process of militias and the average Militia goer I think what I noticed with Some of the time that I spent with a few Militia members I spent some time with Some Oath Keepers recently uh just Hanging out having fun watching Mailboxes trying to save the election And I hung out with some folks in Georgia way back when and I think the military side of it is Fascinating because there are some of Those people Oath Keepers in particular Who are ex-military folks ex-cops who See it as an extension of their service They they made a note to this country Into the Constitution and this is their Extension of it there are other folks Too who feel like Uh just uh day players who wanted to be In the military and perhaps some had

Very interesting stories about uh um an Inability to get into the military uh Like you had an astigmatism so now you Want to be in the militia it's good Enough okay fine I get it seeing a lot Of Cosplay here there's military here And then there's a lot of these people Who are pretending to be military here You know how you know Because they don't have badges they just Have notes from their wife that says you Can go for the weekend and hang out with Your friends but be back on time but There's this funny balance of people Wanting to serve people Pretending to serve and I guess I'm Curious too of of how you see that Aligned with their relationships to the To to actual military forces did you Find is is do you often see it as in Concert with the American uh military System or is oftentimes some of these Militias looking to act in case the Military in and of itself is something That turns on the American people yeah The relationship that militias have with The military is frankly quite Complicated it's something that they Tend to like in the abstract in theory At least because they believe that Military and National Defense are kind Of the the primary functions of what the Federal government is supposed to do It's one of the few legitimate functions

Of the federal government from their Perspective but they think that in Practice the military is prone to Corruption or other problems that they See as being kind of endemic to the Government as a whole so it tends to be The case and there can be variation Across units or even across sometimes Individual militia members but it tends To be the case that they really honor And Revere are veterans and service Members themselves but have a lot of Distrust for the military as an Institution have a lot of distrust for Military leadership Paul does Echo both ways you you know The military world and those circles What is the feeling for those in service When they look at the modern militia Movement There's military people in the militias But also there are those people who are Kind of Uh you know we kind of call it stolen Valor uh if you're trying to kind of Um you know represent yourself as as Part of the military you know and you You know like some people will do it a Whole lot you know throwing metals on Their chest and stuff like that others Will just kind of pretend and wear the Gear and you know there's like there's Airsofters and stuff that where all the Gear they look very military and

Represent themselves as if you know like Hey I can get get your thank you for Your service free meal at Denny's or Something Um but I I think I think um you know Military members probably looking at the Militia they think they're a bunch of Geeks you know like you know get a job Like get do do uh you know if you want To join the military then join the Military uh it just looks like this kind Of pretend defense thing and it really Ignores the the reality of of mill Military operations and what the US Military is capable of you know if You're looking at a militia if you're in A militia and uh You're you're there you know you're Training to uh defend the Constitution Whatever that that that idea they think They are doing Um but you know bottom line is is They're also thinking about potentially Going up against the US military Um and That's not a winning battle you know Like a a guys with uh guys with uh small Arms aren't gonna really do much against An army with you know drones and and Missiles and all kinds of stuff uh and So it's it it seems a little bit Lopsided Um but I I think I think also they they Tap into

The military legitimacy of of wearing a Uniform and and looking like you're Organized Um and you know following some sort of Chain of command these are these are Military Concepts and they uh they make You look you know more professional and That's the reason why they seek out Military members and Veterans because That lends them credibility and Legitimacy among Um among their their followers and Supporters you know even even if you're Even if you're you know if you're a uh Uh you know some nerd who could never Could never get into the military well You can at least join the militia and be Close to you know former military Members and kind of It kind of brushes Off on you Um you are spilling that tea spilling That Tia that militia well also I do Think it also plays off of also the Public perspective of the military There's As as a civilian I think there is a General misunderstanding of the ranks And the difficulties in the world of the Military and so somebody purporting to Be a militia member who wears the outfit To talks the talk Um In a public setting is almost treated as A person with law enforcement Bona fides

Or has has put in the time it's like you If you buy enough t-shirts with flags on Them and you have good enough posture Then liberal Elites like myself are Going to let you get on a plane before Them and they're not going to say Anything about it so you can you can Steal enough Valor to get you in certain Positions Um it's it's interesting I uh I'm Curious Amy We talk about some of the some perhaps Of the goofier sides of that uh and the The desire to be more legitimate like The military but you look at something Like January 6th and you have uh militia Members Oath Keepers Um proud boys people who are storming The capital with a legitimate fear that The military in and of itself could be Utilized against them the one thing you Couldn't help but notice was just how Many people look like they were Preparing for battle from the tactical Vest to the pitchforks this rally felt Charged you can tell these people really Love America by the number of weapons They brought to hurt other Americans Where where does a theory like that come From and how do they get to that point Well you know I think it can come from a Few different places but among some of The specific groups that I have spent Time with it's come in part from an

Interesting Dynamic where everything That Paul just described is true that There are these folks who really want to Attach on to the military sort of Aura If you will and try to kind of claim Some of that legitimacy but also there Are veterans who actively seek out Something like a militia to join and That can be for one of two reasons one Reason is that they kind of miss the Camaraderie of the military they've been Honorably discharged and they want to Find a space where people are trying to Look up to them and learn from some of Their experiences on the other hand I've Encountered some folks who really did Not enjoy their military experience to Say the least they really felt like There was no legitimate purpose to some Of the conflicts they were involved in One man in particular for example really Believes Um that Desert Storm was truly all about Experimentation on service members that There was no other legitimate purpose For it he came back incredibly angry and Told me that he wanted to join something Like a militia as a way to figure out How to fight back against the government To take a proactive stand against the Government so I think some of that kind Of my mentality kind of seeps in there Where even some people who have direct Military experience kind of feed those

Narratives that the military might be The enemy and usually that narrative is Not about the rank and file but again About the leadership or about the Government and then they're misleading The rank and file and they're doing all This nefarious stuff that most military Or service members may not even be aware Is happening so they feel like it's Their job to raise awareness of that to Fight back against it in some ways That's the logic that kind of undergirds The Oath Keepers as an organization as a Whole because their their whole purpose Was supposedly to remember mind military And law enforcement about those that They took to serve the people as opposed To serving the government I want to talk A little bit about that distrust there Uh Paul you've written uh and you've Been very critical of some of the Conspiracy theories that have been Perpetrated by Donald Trump uh you've Called him America's crazy uncle because Of these conspiracies that he has spread Including one that claims Joe Biden Killed SEAL Team Six to cover up the Reality that Osama Bin Laden was never Shot and it was a body double Which is wild but it was something that He pushed out there what what is the Story behind that one So this one is very very strange and Weird and it's it's worth noting right

Away that Rob O'Neal the uh the Seal Team Six member who uh who who claimed To have shot Bin Laden uh he's credited With killing Bin Laden on that raid he Was and he's also a a a a a big fan of Donald Trump uh but even he was like Whoa Bro can you kind of back this off a Little bit and and and push back on this Theory it goes back to the Seal Team Six Raid on Osama Bin Laden this happened in In 2011 uh the seals went into Pakistan They uh they raided Bin Laden's house They killed him Um and they they took his body back they Got a ton of intelligence for it it was A very successful operation uh by by all Kinds of measures Uh soon after that I'd say uh you know Maybe within months or so there was a Helicopter crash in Afghanistan Um and a large number unfortunately of Of of Navy SEALs uh were in that crash And this this helicopter call sign was Extortion 17. And the theory of Extortion 17 going Down was that these were seals that were Involved in the bin Laden raid and in Order to you know keep them silent to Make sure that you know and nothing Nothing about the bin Laden raid that The government didn't want getting out Obama killed them made the made that Made the helicopter crash somehow and

That it was a cover-up of the of the bin Laden raid and now we see that this is Sort of refashioned into oh well Actually no it was the vice president at The time Joe Biden and he was the one Who set down this helicopter for some Reason Um and it just it just doesn't make any Sense Um and it also it also makes very little Sense if if the government is trying to You know suppress Seals from you know revealing the truth And why is why is uh Rob O'Neal still Alive why is Matt bissonnette who wrote A book about the entire raid two seals Have revealed details of this Um and yet the government wanted to you Know take down take down a helicopter And and and you know bring down the Truth it's it's totally ludicrous Um and and really really unfortunate the Thing about this these conspiracy Theories that people forget Is that there are these were seals that Went down in a helicopter crash there's A pilot there were pilots in this in This crash Army Pilots they all have Families you know they have they have Friends and they're they uh they are now I'm sure affected by this conspiracy Theory nonsense Um and you know it whenever there's some Kind of new article coming out about the

Extortion 17 cover-up Um it's you know it's if that were if That were my loved one that that was Lost I'd be pretty pissed off by by this Stuff and it just continues and and kind Of snowballs and and you know one Conspiracy theorist cites the other Conspiracy theorists and it kind of you Know goes on and on Trump was challenged On this one by Savannah Guthrie during The 2020 election uh at a town hall just This week you retweeted to your 87 Million followers a conspiracy theory That Joe Biden orchestrated to have SEAL Team Six the Navy SEAL to six killed to Cover up the the fake death of Bin Laden Now why would you send a live followers That was a retweet that was a an opinion Of somebody and that was a retweet I'll Put it out there people can decide for Themselves how do you think members of The military react when they see a Conspiracy theory like this probably Like what the what the hell like why are People believing this crap like that's That that would be my initial reaction Like can we can we teach some more Critical thinking skills in in school I Look at these kinds of things and I Think like We are uh we are a society with a whole Lot of people that are fooled by Uh misinformation disinformation And what I fear is is nation states

Using that to their advantage and I'm Talking about China and Russia That is not a conspiracy theory uh that These these nations do this they have uh Substantial intelligence apparatuses They have information Warfare uh Specialists just as we do and they have Budgets that support this stuff and so If you have a society that's already You know not even not even able to Discern fact from fiction uh because you Have a former American president you Know throwing fuel on that fire Um that's going to be uh that's going to Be used to the advantage of of China and Russia Um and it's not it's not propaganda That's like you know like so obvious That it's you know it's like suddenly You're uh you're gonna see some message That says like you know Vladimir Putin Is the greatest leader of all time it's It's more about egging these things on And and sort of adding more fuel to the Fire and more BS to actually expand the Amount of people who are confused about What the truth is Um or just questioning questioning Complete you know reality of what's Going on And you know there's examples of this Stuff and like like Jade Helm uh there Was an operation in Texas uh this Training exercise

In which uh a huge number of conspiracy Theorists you know started talking about Jade Helm Um as you know some kind of government Takeover the military was going to take Over the entire United States and this Training exercise was some kind of cover Of course it was bogus and ludicrous but You know that's that's like our internal Conspiracy stuff just imagine if if you Know that that expands that goes out and You have China sharing this stuff that Actually happened with Jade Helm right Is it Jade Helm specifically didn't Governor Abbott in Texas put troops yeah Uh activated troops because of that Conspiracy and China uh activated Bots To Gin up more chaos around it because They saw that as a weakness right it was I think what you're describe is our our Susceptibility to conspiracies is a Legitimate vulnerability to our own National Security I want to pause it Right there I want to talk a little bit More about Jade Helm after the break We'll be right back Uh Paul we were talking a little bit About Jade Helm technically what is it Jade helm15 Um I don't know I don't know what number We're on of of the times that Jade Helm Has led to the collapse of the Government I don't know I just I know Sometimes they throw a number on there

It sounds so much of these conspiracies They have to sound somewhere between a Bourne Identity movie and an exotic Dancer if you can get that right right There in the middle then it's going to Catch fire and Jade Helm was one of Those correct the thing is that that's That's crazy about the Jade Helm Conspiracy is that you had a whole lot Of people who are thinking that this was Some kind of government takeover the Military was you know planning some kind Of coup And you know the governor of Texas Actually uh had troops uh from the National Guard you know activated and And kind of keeping an eye on Jade Helm Activities which is it's just wild to Think about that you have Straight up BS Actually affecting Policy makers and moving them to action Uh this is this is I mean you know part Of it is is probably uh you know I'd Imagine there's some kind of politics at Play where the governor is you know Trying to kind of Pretend like he's you know uh he's he's Uh he's doing something about this this Problem but I would really hope instead that you'd Say hey this is this is nutty this makes No sense and this isn't happening and I Don't actually waste National

Guardsmen's time sending them out to to Take care of this Um but it's not like outside the realm Of possibility to to think about these Types of conspiracies or or just simple Misinformation disinformation The people that are making National Security decisions uh policy decisions Uh movements in the military they're Susceptible to this this information Just like anybody else and you know some Of them have training on these types of Things some are are you know understand Counterintelligence and information Warfare Um but a lot of them a lot of them don't You know they they're just like they're Just like every other American you know And they you know so if you know where Where you come from in America that's That's your your neighbors are some of Them are in the military and they're Still getting the same information that You're doing on Facebook you know They're still looking at it too oh no Don't say it don't say that I mean yeah You're saying our susceptibility to Conspiracies is a vulnerability at a National security level especially when People in positions of power buy into This right do we are we handing out Stars too easily in the military I look At I mean General Flynn I don't know General seems like a pretty big position

And general Flynn now he believes in all The Q a nonsense he believes that the The Democratic party is all demotic Satan worshipers this man was a general And from all the movies I've watched That's like Tip Top If I recall so What's what's going on there are we not Vetting our generals enough or is this Just what an American General looks like Right now batshit crazy well To be fair he is not the first batshit Crazy General that the US military has Ever had uh if you look well is that a Pro I guess you know what is that a Problem too because I think that brings Up a larger question right the the Military in and of itself we we put the Military on a pedestal and rightfully so They protect our country and and keep us Safe uh and yet there's this American Ideal of the wild General who goes on in There Custer with all of his crazy dogs And what have you from the beginning There's stories of generals who's who Let uh reality be damned and that makes Them Heroes but is that a myth that is Starting to erode and hurt us in modern Day Warfare well I think it's it's Always a it's just generally a mistake To put uh put people uh you know high up Military leaders military members in General on a pedestal you know they the We should we should we should respect And honor the US Military and and

Service members who you know swear an Oath to the Constitution and raise their Raise their right hand to do so that is Something that most people don't do and They um they in the vast majority of of Them do do so honorably Then there's people like Michael Flynn Who rise up in the ranks and and and and And and and go go places up there and The thing about Flynn is that he was he Was a very widely respected Uh Intel guy Um he he he's credited with with really Sort of transforming the intelligence World and you know on that sort of Reputation he moved up the ranks and he Was he was eventually part of or the Leader of the defense intelligence Agency it's like the military's version Of the CIA Um and they they deal with uh you know Gathering Intelligence on foreign Militaries And you know at that point there's a There's a there's a really famous Washington Post article about Flynn's Time at DIA and after and one of the Quotes that I found really fascinating Is is some uh some of the some of his Subordinates started talking about uh His sharing of uh what were called Flynn Facts which were basically ideas crazy Sounding ideas that he would put out There

And try to get the intelligence to sort Of molding to his idea so for example He'd say something like like you know There's definitely like an Iraq correct Connection to this thing or you know the Iranians are behind us or something and It's like that's not actually how you're Supposed to start with intelligence You're supposed to like like you don't Want to find the bad guy like you tell Me this what what are the architects of The Iraq War like the idea of oh there's Weapons of mass destruction over here uh Let's go invade this country that's not A good starting point for a good clean Intel you actually want to have a Starting point of of being open to being Wrong and but the military doesn't Create that right does the military Create those types of people it seems Like that is a vulnerability in a modern Uh modern military right you were a Soldier were there any classes on we're Learning improv classes about being Wrong and saying yes and to any other Idea uh yes and no I I Um I you know the thing about that well The thing about that article that you Know really sticks out to me is that you Don't rise to this position without Other people seeing warning signs along The way

And the thing about the military Um you know it's it's it's sometimes uh It is easier to pass the problem off to Someone else than deal with it right now You know it's the federal government and So it's hard to fire somebody especially Hard to get rid of somebody out of the Military and how do you get rid of Somebody from the military who's you Know a little like saying some weird Stuff like what is how do you put that In the performance review and justify it You know and so he he uh he and others Have have sort of moved up into higher Up ranks And and now we're kind of seeing the Consequences of that where uh you know It's not Michael Flynn anymore you know It's General Flynn it's all over his Twitter it's you know he introduced Himself so much as general Flynn and and Yeah I get it you know if you're a Retired General sure you want to you Want to maintain the you know the Respect and and you know kind of the Dignity of that rank but I'm not walking Around you know telling everybody I'm Sergeant zoldra you know like it's it's A it's a way to uh you know get more Legitimacy to your ideas and it's it's People hear a lieutenant general a Former lieutenant general or a former Colonel Um there are you know there's there's

Lieutenant Colonels out there that are Sharing conspiracies that I've found and And people hear these because cut and They they believe it because he's a General why would a general lie to me You know generals are very honorable and And they they they tell us the truth and They they've been there he's been in for A really long time and so of of course He's telling us the truth about the uh The you know the Kraken being released And you know the uh the you know the Colonel telling us that uh the the Green Berets have found mail-in ballots at Some secret facility in Europe that Should have gone to Trump you know of Course that's true because they're a Colonel I think there's there's a There's a secondary level of Stolen Valor that exists with folks like like Trump who takes somebody like a general Flynn and they use his title as a way to Bolster their own BS in a way that gives Them credibility just because they're Hiding behind the shield of somebody With a title like that that that's but That's a whole that's a whole different That's an editorial I'm working on I I Want to talk about some of these real Real life examples of theories and ideas That get put into action I want to talk About the Wolverine Watchman uh they're A splinter group of the Michigan Liberty Militia and they're the guys who wanted

To kidnap Gretchen Whitmer I want to know a little bit about the Story behind uh them and how they Plotted to do exactly that Yeah I mean I think the main thing to Know with them is that they have been Stirred up by this broader milieu that We've been talking about where Conspiracism about a variety of things But especially about covid-19 was kind Of at the Forefront of their motivation For them it seems that they really Believed that the lockdown efforts in Michigan and perhaps some that were Being discussed nationally were really Interpreted as Government tyranny they Felt like it was going to slip into Further tyranny that that was just kind Of the the beginning of telling citizens What they could and could not do and Seem to believe that it was their Personal responsibility to do something About that and I think to Paul's earlier Point part of the reason this kind of Conspiratorial thinking is damaging to Our national security is not just what It can potentially open up Internationally but how it creates Divisive content even among Americans It's been really interesting to observe The militia movement over a long period Of time because folks that I was Watching in 2008 2009 2010 who were very Skeptical of some conspiracy theories

Who openly laughed at some of them that People kind of assumed were part and Parcel of the militia movement got Turned on to more and more of them Especially during Trump's Administration Especially as Q Anon theories sort of Spread across the internet and Especially on places like Facebook and So I think that the idea that that some People have special knowledge or special Insights into the way the world really Works is a major variable creating some Of this divisiveness and potentially Creating the the ability for some people To get so wrapped up in it that they They feel like they have to commit Violence to do something to course Correct our culture here I think that's That's a that's a great Point there's Something special about feeling like you Have that secret information and that's Something you can sort of of build an Identity around it makes you feel like You have a sense of purpose I guess the Time that you've spent with militias Talking to militia members what is Something that people don't understand About the modern militia movement that That you noticed Probably the major thing is that most Militia members are average people like They they can they're really not social Outliers they have families they have Jobs militia activity is something that

They care very much about but they're Not necessarily just considering their Entire life around it in the way that we Sort of stereotypically portray and I Think we have ignored that at our Peril Because something that I've been trying To get people to understand for a long Time is that much of what they believe Politically ideologically in other ways Too is very similar to what a lot of Middle America believes at least a lot Of White Middle America and I think that I kind of anticipated where we would go With the Trump election campaign and Beyond in ways that took a lot of people By surprise Um because we we sort of dismiss militia Ideology as Fringe when actually they've Just been a little bit louder and more Comfortable with it in terms of sort of Owning it really when it's been Something that's been shared among a Broader swath of the population really Forever but what do you say to somebody Who hears militia and they're like oh Those are white nationalists uh Far-right extremists how do you respond To that how far off are they with that Assessment you know those elements do Overlap but I think that that's overly Simplistic in a way that makes us Downplay what real white nationalism is Makes us kind of Miss opportunities for Intervention potentially with people who

Aren't that extreme people who could Potentially be talked out of in some Ways at least they're conspiratorial Thinking and some of that divisiveness As well if we sort of paint them all With one brush it is more of a bleak Picture than I think what we really have Okay we're going to take a short break And we come back we'll talk about what's Next for military extremism here in the United States Amy groups like The Oath Keepers have Been emboldened by extremists of the Republican Party supporting them but Also hit with the realities of Court Sentences because of their role in January 6th what's next for groups like The Oath Keepers yeah I think probably With The Oath Keepers specifically that They are done as we know them it's kind Of interesting because the oathkeepers Have always had a bit of a mixed Reputation within the broader militia World some people sort of appreciated What Stuart Rhodes and some of the other Members were trying to do in terms of of Prioritizing Oaths to civilians Basically whereas others thought that Rhodes was too big for his britches and Speaking beyond what he was really able To do so based off of his own Experiences and based off of how he kind Of excluded some other long-standing Militia organizations when when he was

First starting so personally I think That the the trials and everything That's going to follow from that is Going to be pretty devastating to The Oath Keepers as we have known them but That doesn't mean that the underlying Ideology has gone away many groups that Have previously Affiliated as Oath Keepers have just changed their name or Taken down their Facebook pages or their Other websites and they still very much Believe that the election was stolen That it is their personal responsibility To do something to prevent the next Presidential election from being stolen So I think headed into 2024 we're going To have to be incredibly cautious and Keep an eye on the narratives that Develop that As Trump continues his next Campaign as other people sort of out try To out Trump him Um we may see other figures even rise to The Forefront in terms of their ability To appeal to these groups to make them Feel like their fears are legitimate Paul um I'm curious how we talk to people in the Military people in citizen militias you Served in the military you served with White supremacists who had Nazi tattoos Uh how do you talk to someone like that About about their beliefs I uh I wish I Had a good answer for this Um but it's

Um it's it's terribly difficult Um I can you know you know you brought Up a point about the you know Nazi Tattoo I I was I joined the Marine Corps In in you know after 9 11 and Um you know got to my first unit and Um you know one of my one of my senior Senior Marines uh you know was a little Bit higher in rank than than me and he You know they they were in charge and I Was the junior guy and Um I didn't know what it was at the time But he had some he had some kind of like Heil Hitler kind of like coded tattoo Um on his arm and and It's you know having a person like that In your unit Um is is incredibly dangerous uh first And foremost it you know can so Discord Among a close unit you know the thing in The Marine Corps that we we talk about Is is is a spree decor this this sense Of of you know working together Um and you're very very close and so uh And we're also we were also serving with Uh you know black black you know I got Black grunts in my platoon I've got uh You know people from Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic and you know Mexico Like it's all every it's it's just Everybody it's it's a it's a mixed bag It's all of America and you have One one person who you know basically Hates uh a a portion of your platoon

Um it kind of like makes you wonder like What are they gonna are they gonna do The right thing in combat will they Will they uh will they do you know will They will they protect the the people That are you know they they don't like Um you know it's there's there's that Fear but but also it's it's it's the Fear of of stealing weapons uh stealing Ammunition and militias have uh done This many times in in the past uh There's there's plenty of examples of of Of using military members uh who are Parts of of militias or parts of uh you Know these kind of extremist groups And they basically use their military Access to supply them with with guns and Ammunition It's also really concerning from an Intelligence standpoint uh to have have Someone like that Who who's you know loyalty is Maybe not with a hundred percent with The unit and with the military when you Have this dual loyalty to a militia Group or or some you know extremist Group outside of the military it's right For the defense department to wonder you Know what are what are these what are These people doing and Um it's it's a it's a real it's a real Problem Um because once you're in inside you're Largely trusted you know you've made it

Through the the basic training you maybe Have gone through some kind of security Clearance or you know but you're you're Trusted people aren't you know skeptical Of you uh or pushing back on you as much As they would a civilian you know that's Outside of this military sphere and and It's um you know it's it's the it's the Supposed it's it's called an Insider Threat and the military takes that takes That very seriously when it comes to Like cyber security there's Insider Threat uh you know software and things Like that Um but there's not a lot to do for The Insider threat for you know the the guy Like me who's joining the platoon and Like this is my senior Marine I couldn't You know if I knew what that tattoo was At the time like how do I report that What am I supposed to tell people like It shouldn't be a hard or difficult Decision to get rid of you know what I Think is a scumbag Um Um you know like but that's it's not Always that easy is the military ripe For conspiratorial thinking uh An institution that uh relies on loyalty But also Blind Faith can be hijacked by Charisma and power to have people follow I I think the stamp was something like 15 of the folks charged on January 6th Um we're a part of the military at some

Point does that number surprise you not Not really Um I I think it goes back to it goes Back to what I said before which is the Military is a reflection of society They're the people in the military Um they're they're not you know better Or worse than the rest of America Um they're you just have all the guns All the guns and tanks they they should Be better shouldn't they shouldn't that Be the goal the people with the tanks And the guns should be better than all Of us they should be smarter they should Have the research more disciplined more Loyal dear God I hope the people with The tanks are better than me they must Be they have to be look look Jordan You're a dirt bag so I'm sure they're Better thank you that makes me feel Better thank you but for seriously I Think it's it's they're just like you And I Um and they're just as susceptible to This stuff and and I I still I mean just The other day I had a a friend of mine Um you know sharing something on on Instagram like something about Um Funding for for the Ukraine war Um and how it's way too much you know The the Biden Administration is wasting All our money and sending 90 billion Dollars to this war and he could be

Spending it elsewhere and you know he Was sharing it in like a positive manner Like oh my God this is crazy and I it Totally makes sense if you see that like Oh that's that's screwed up And I looked at it it's one of those Things and this happens a lot it's like It's too good to check And a lot of these things are just too Good to check and I looked and I checked Because I care about this this person as I served with and I I looked it up it Took me like basically five seconds to Find the Congressional research service Report which is a non-partisan outlet And looking up Ukraine funding and it's Right around 19 billion it's like a Rounding error on the Department of Defense budget it's it's like the bang For our buck that we're getting in in Security and and um in in U.S security And protecting Americans from our Arc a Competitor of ours Russia who's that has Been a competitor of ours for a very Long time and will be a competitor Competitor of ours for a very long time That that spending is so small and yeah But but looking it up you know I'm like I'm like hey here's here's the actual Thing and he's like oh thank you you Know like some people some people I've Done that too and they get pissed at me You know they get they're really mad That I'm not buying into the conspiracy

Theory and it's like It's it's hard to it's really hard to to Push back on on on something like this When Um It's you've bought in so much to the Idea that there's some kind of Nefarious Thing you're closing off your mind to Alternatives And and it's Um it's just people it's it almost Becomes kind of kind of religious I Think you should host some sort of Facebook class because that may be the Only positive experience of people Pushing back with an alternative point Of view that was greeted with a thank You in any kind of social media media This was it was very impressive it was In the DM so I think you know we're Nicer in the DMS if it's on the comments You know I I I maybe that's what it is This is slide into the DMS and give Facts that's what people need to do it's About time I I actually I actually do Think that that is something we need to Do Um and more people should do that you Know it's it's really it it really is Like It is a bit Um It's it's it's it's a bit of a bummer to See you know like just these

Conspiracies flourish and then there's Nobody that's like saying like here's The actual reality you know and I I will Try my best if I think I might have a Shot at at you know correcting the Record for at least one other person Um and and really that's that's the That's the point for me you know it's Like it's like yeah you're not gonna Impact the entire world you're not gonna Push back on on this this conspiracy Mindset Um and you know just this the crazy Amount of misinformation no one person Is going to be able to to to stop that All but one person can have impact on One other person you know like and That's that's that's worthwhile I was Gonna say that I agree with that too I Mean there's this academic research that Talks about this backlash effect where If we factually correct conspiracy Theories people just kind of dig further Into them and I think that can be true In some circumstances although I think It's just a little bit too pessimistic For me to believe that must be true Always across the board but if nothing Else especially in sort of those more Public forums when we say no here's Factual information here's why the logic Of this is wrong I think at the very Least it can prevent other people from Slipping into that kind of thinking as

Well look at that it might be a backstop Too you might not save that person leave That man behind that's a military Concept right That's a lost cause that person oh too Bad but maybe you can throw something Down and they won't come rushing back in Um Amy I want to ask finally what you Expect to happen over the next few years With the citizen militia movement yeah You know I always say I wish I had a Crystal ball because there are so many Variables right now that is difficult to Know for sure what's going to happen but I expect it's likely that we will have a Resurgence once more not just of Militias but of those groups that we Tend to label right wing across the Board headed into the 2024 cycle because I think that there are multiple Political actors who now have learned How to play into the fears of these Groups in an instrumental kind of way And who see them as something that they Can weaponize for their their own Benefit so I expect that we will see Pockets of resistance I don't think We'll see another January 6th I think This is going to continue to be more About school boards and supposedly like Culture War right type issues but it's Really about sort of who has a voice in Culture who has a voice in politics in a Way that will absolutely show up in many

Of our campaign speeches and and what That election cycle is at least framed To be about which I believe they're Going to frame it to be more about sort Of like the soul of America in a way That's going to be very appealing to a Lot of these groups and galvanizing them Into action you hear that America the Weapon of the future it's us we are Being weaponized our susceptibilities Our free thinking we are being we are Being weaponized uh well thank you guys Uh thank you to Paul thank you to Amy For joining us here today you're Listening to Jordan Clapper fingers the Conspiracy we'll see you next week Listen to Jordan Clepper fingers the Conspiracy from The Daily Show on Apple Podcast the iHeartRadio app or wherever You get your podcasts [Music] [Music]