Alternative realities are nothing new in the era of Donald Trump. But as Trump spewed misinformation throughout his presidency, there was a sense that he was playing to his base. Meanwhile, conservatives in Washington kept their projects moving while Trump held rallies.
But now those policy makers and people close to the president appear to be sounding the alarm. Anonymous insiders warn that Trump has surrounded himself with conspiracy-minded loyalists who feed the president stories of a stolen election and appeal to his darkest impulses.
Unnamed Washington officials spoke with CNN and Axios and said that Trump is only listening to his most devout followers, who tell him that he's the rightful winner of the most recent presidential election.
The concern from insiders comes after Trump reportedly met with fringe advisers like Michael Flynn and Rudy Giuliani on Friday to discuss the idea of declaring martial law and reversing the election results by force. Lawyer Sidney Powell, who formerly worked on Trump's legal team attempting to overturn the election via the courts, was in the meeting and reportedly pushed for a coup that would use the military to force second elections in swing states. Though Trump himself has called the reports ludicrous, officials are worried that he might be swayed.
"We don't know what he might do," a Pentagon officer told CNN. "We are in strange times," said another.
Axios reported on a message sent to Republican lawmakers by Trump's personal assistant that seemed to indicate Trump viewed Mitch McConnell as traitorous after the Senate Majority Leader has admitted Joe Biden won the presidential election. The publication added that Trump is distancing himself from Vice President Mike Pence and would view his ratification of the election results on January 6 as a betrayal.
CNN reports that Trump hopes to challenge these results, moving beyond his many failed lawsuits to the halls of Congress. To that end, Trump has collaborated with Republican dead-enders in the hopes that they can create chaos during the ratification. Axios notes that Trump isn't so far gone to think that the ploy will actually work.
"No one is sure where this is heading," an official told CNN on Monday. "He's still President for another month."