The US is in the middle of a coup and hasn't realised, according to Michael Moore.
The filmmaker and journalist, who was one of the few famous people to publicly predict that Donald Trump would become President, has warned that the US state is being overthrown by Mr Trump and the people he has appointed to govern alongside him.
Linking to a New York Times piece about the role of senior advisor Steve Bannon, he posted on Twitter: "If you're still trying to convince yourself that a 21st century coup is not underway, please, please snap out of it".
The article described how Mr Bannon, who until recently ran the far-right news site Breitbart News, had taken a major role in national security policy that usually would only be occupied by senior generals. That move was a major break with precedent and it and Mr Bannon himself have been credited with many of the extreme policy pronouncements coming from the White House in recent days.
But Mr Moore also posted the link soon after it emerged that the President had fired US attorney general Sally Yates because she had questioned whether the Muslim ban was legal and told Justice Department lawyers to stop defending it. A statement said that she had been relieved of her position because she was "weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration".
Mr Trump replaced Ms Yates with Dana Boente, who is thought to be much more favourable to the new administration. But it is likely that he will be soon replaced in turn by Senator Jeff Sessions, who is currently waiting to be confirmed by the Senate.
A Google engineer had made the same argument in a viral blog post just hours before, arguing that the institution of the Muslim ban could be seen as a "trial balloon for a coup". He pointed to a range of different events – including reports that the Muslim ban was opposed by lawyers at the Department for Homeland Security, who were then overruled by Mr Bannon, and a report from the Guardian that claimed that the White House had "purged" nearly all senior staff at the State Department.
The post by Yonatan Zunger claimed that the administration was in the middle of transferring all executive power "to a tight inner circle, eliminating any possible checks from either the Federal bureaucracy, Congress, or the Courts. Departments are being reorganized or purged to effect this". He also wrote that moves like the Muslim ban and the unexpected events that followed are a way of "actively probing the means by which they can seize unchallenged power".
That post was shared by a range of celebrities, including the creator of House of Cards.
Britannica defines a coup as "the sudden, violent overthrow of an existing government by a small group". It differs from a revolution in that it happens quickly and doesn't depend on large numbers of people – instead, it requires only "a change in power from the top that merely results in the abrupt replacement of leading government personnel".
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies