President Donald Trump’s nominee to become a senior Pentagon official spread debunked conspiracies on Twitter that called Trump’s election loss to Joe Biden a “coup” attempt and shared tweets that suggest Trump should declare martial law.
Scott O’Grady, a former fighter pilot and Trump loyalist, repeatedly retweeted tweets that falsely stated Trump won the election in “landslide fashion” and that millions of votes were stolen from the President.
On November 25, O’Grady retweeted a tweet that said, “Trump won & Biden & his Comrades will now attempt a coup,” next to a photoshopped image of Biden beside Xi Jinping, the President of China.
On December 2, he retweeted an account that shared an article that said former national security adviser Michael Flynn had shared a petition that called for martial law. He then retweeted the same account which suggested that Trump should declare martial law.
“I don’t know who needs to hear this,” the account said, “But calling for martial law is not a bad idea when there is an attempted coup against the president and this country happening right now.”
The tweet references a petition Flynn shared on Twitter calling for Trump to declare martial law and order a new presidential election. The petition falsely called November’s presidential election “fraudulent” and called on Trump to have the military oversee a new election. Attorney General William Barr said in an interview published Tuesday that there is no evidence that widespread fraud occurred during the election.
In the aftermath of the election, Trump himself has spread numerous conspiracies and falsehoods alleging that Democrats and other outside forces have stolen the election from him. He has also upended management in the Defense Department by making wholesale changes in the Pentagon’s civilian leadership since firing Defense Secretary Mark Esper by tweet November 9, ousting at least three other officials and replacing them with perceived loyalists.
CNN’s KFile reviewed O’Grady’s tweets and media appearances and found that O’Grady shared other debunked election conspiracies and that he also degraded top military and intelligence officials. In a radio interview, he called former President Barack Obama and military generals “sworn socialists,” and advocated that the military justice system should bring back treason charges. He retweeted a tweet that called former Defense Secretary James Mattis a “traitor.”
He tweeted that Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a star witness during the Trump impeachment hearings, should be charged “for insurrection because he is a biased liberal political operative” and said on a radio show that it was “disgusting” for Vindman to testify against Trump. He also spread a baseless claim that the whistleblower in the impeachment saga dated the daughter of House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff.
O’Grady was nominated by the White House to become an assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs at the Pentagon, a key position within the Department of Defense’s policy shop overseeing operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The position is a political appointment, and if O’Grady is confirmed, he would only fill the role until the start of the Biden administration.
His nomination, which was sent to the Senate on Monday, comes as the Pentagon’s top civilian officials have been hastily replaced with perceived Trump loyalists and conspiracy theorists despite some lacking credentials – and in some cases, lacking Senate confirmation – for the positions.
CNN has reached out to O’Grady and the Defense Department for comment but has received no response. CNN has also reached out to Republican and Democratic lawmakers on the Senate Armed Services Committee for comment, but received no response.
In the aftermath of this year’s presidential election, O’Grady has taken to retweeting dozens of conspiracies and falsehoods about the results, all of which allege that Trump won the election or that the election results were tampered with or covered up.
On November 19, O’Grady retweeted a tweet that falsely claimed Hillary Clinton and George Soros were involved in allowing foreign interference in the presidential election.
On November 23, O’Grady retweeted a user who falsely claimed, “They stopped counting votes when @realDonaldTrump was winning “in landslide fashion.”
On November 25, O’Grady retweeted a baseless accusation that Brian Kemp and Brad Raffensperger–the governor, and secretary of state, of Georgia, respectively—may be covering up information about election results in Georgia.
“Brian & Brad seem to have something to hide,” the tweet said. “We need to find out what it is. I suspect they are hiding the TRUTH.”
Trump lost Georgia to President-elect Biden by more than 12,000 votes. Though Georgia implemented an automatic recount, state officials say they have seen “no substantial change” in the results.
On November 27, O’Grady retweeted the false claim that Trump won California, despite the fact that Trump lost the state by more than 5 million votes.
Behind Enemy Lines
O’Grady has also signaled support for attorney Sidney Powell after the Trump campaign severed ties with her after she expressed beliefs that a network of communists, CIA agents, Democrats, Republicans, and Hugo Chavez, the dead former president of Venezuela, worked with Dominion Voting Systems to steal the election from Trump.
O’Grady has also shared or interacted with other online conspiracies not related to the election.
On November 25, he retweeted a tweet that asked if the Covid-19 virus was partisan since it seemed to be disproportionately impacting Republican politicians over Democrats.
In February 2020, O’Grady retweeted a tweet with a pro-QAnon hashtag. The far-right conspiracy theory claims that a cabal of Satan-worshiping Democratic politicians and celebrities abuse children and are working toward overthrowing Trump.
Before O’Grady established himself as a Trump loyalist, he first rose to fame when he served as a fighter pilot whose plane was shot down over war-torn Bosnia in 1995. The air force captain ejected himself from the plane and evaded capture for nearly a week before being rescued by US Marines. The 2001 film “Behind Enemy Lines” had a similar plotline to O’Grady’s experience and he later sued the film studio and then settled the suit for an undisclosed amount.
After leaving active military service in 2001, O’Grady obtained a theology degree and launched a speaking and writing career about his time in Bosnia. He co-chaired the Veterans for Trump campaign effort in 2020.
While a representative of Veterans for Trump, O’Grady alluded to other conspiracies. In a radio interview from the spring of 2020, O’Grady said “open-source unclassified material” shows that Covid-19 was created out of a lab in China. There is no evidence for this and the conspiracy has been widely rejected by the scientific community.
In 2019, he also tweeted, “Europe is going to face a serious problem in our lifetime with the growing muslim [sic] populations inside their countries. It’s not going to be a pretty outcome in my opinion.”