House Democrat Sparks Controversy for Seeming to Call for Military Coup After Helsinki Summit

Rep. Steve Cohen (D., Tenn.) / Getty


Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen (Tenn.) sparked controversy on Monday after seeming to call for a military coup in response to the Helsinki Summit between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The summit garnered criticism from both Republicans and Democrats as a missed opportunity for the president to stand up and issue a stern signal that future meddling in American elections by Russia would not be tolerated.

A particular point of ire was the president's statement that Putin had denied meddling in the 2016 election and Trump's insistence he didn't "see any reason why" Russia would have intervened. The remarks were in contrast to affirmations made by the Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats that Russia interfered in an effort to "undermine our democracy."

Taking to social media to make his displeasure with the president clear, Cohen ambiguously questioned where the nation's "military folks" were considering the president was "in the hands" of the enemy.

"Where are our military folks?" Cohen asked. "The Commander in Chief is in the hands of our enemy!"

Initially, it remained unclear what Cohen meant by his tweet; however, some social media users were quick to draw the implication that Cohen was calling for a military coup to depose Trump, the country's lawfully elected leader.

While Cohen did not clarify his tweet immediately, his office did release a statement formally responding to the two world leaders meeting in Helsinki. In his statement, the Democrat lambasted Trump's "submissive posturing" towards Russia, describing it as an "insult" to the nation's armed services and law enforcement agencies.

"Trump’s submissive posturing to Putin is an insult to every American and especially the men and women of the Armed Services and the FBI whose job is to preserve our American values," Cohen said. "It is unprecedented. It is appalling. It is incomprehensible."

When pressed, the congressman clarified that he was not calling for a coup, rather, he said his initial tweet was an attempt to gauge how the intelligence community and the military felt about the president's comments. Cohen also castigated individuals for "jumping to conclusions without talking to the source."

The remarks come on the heels of an MSNBC appearance Cohen made on Saturday in which he asserted Russia had "invaded" the U.S. and was influencing the policies and actions of the Trump administration.

Cohen, who has served as a member of the House of Representatives since 2007, has been no stranger to controversy in the past, especially on social media.

In 2013, Cohen engendered criticism for making a racial joke on Twitter, which the congressman defended on the grounds "it was funny" and indicative of the strong African-American support he had in his congressional district.

Just last week the congressman was forced to issue an official apology after contending that embattled FBI Agent Peter Strzok deserved a purple heart for the line of questioning he faced in front of the House Government Oversight Committee. Strzok, who was responsible for overseeing the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and the probe of Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server, has come under fire for allegedly failing to put his work above personal and political bias.

Haris Alic

Haris Alic   Email | Full Bio | RSS
Haris Alic is a Social Media Writer at the Washington Free Beacon. Prior to joining the staff, Haris worked in communications and government relations at various non-profits. Haris lives in Northern Virginia. His Twitter handle is @realHarisAlic. He can be reached at

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