He fired his defence assistant, set up a conspiracy-minded loyalist as chief advice at an intelligence company, and tapped a retired military colonel whom backed martial legislation on the mexican border for a high pentagon job.

And all this within times of being declared the loser of a presidential election an effect donald trump has actually announced fraudulent.

If we saw this in just about any various other country, a president declining to just accept the results after which firing the secretary of defence, you can imagine [journalists] writing that is an attempted coup, said anne-marie slaughter, an old senior state department official.

Mr trumps decision to overhaul the senior ranks associated with defence and areas of the cleverness organization including sacking defence assistant mark esper when you look at the instant aftermath of their failed re-election promotion has gripped washingtons governmental classes.

The reshuffle features sparked issue that norm-bending president may shatter more sacred of democratic standards: the calm transfer of energy. however many think mr trumps post-election skulduggery is for more pedestrian reasons, such as for example an eleventh-hour change in army pose overseas.

The firing of secretary esper is most worrisome as it removes a guy who may have resisted the effort to misuse and abuse our military for governmental functions, said william cohen, a former defence assistant under bill clinton. installing functionaries who're probably be supplicants for the rest of his term should-be of concern to all or any just who be worried about nationwide safety problems.

To make sure, mr trump hasn't broken any laws. the 18th-century us constitution and decades-old appropriate reforms result in the formal official certification of a fresh president a slow and complicated process, meaning a sitting commander-in-chief has free rein to overhaul the government while they see fit for very nearly three months after election day.

We have to understand that the election just isn't certified, ms slaughter told the ft global boardroom conference on wednesday. when [senate republican vast majority frontrunner] mitch mcconnell states trump is wholly within their liberties, he is appropriate.

But additionally indications mr trump has actually focused the entire process of guaranteeing the election itself. bill barr, us attorney-general, a primary enforcer of mr trumps much more controversial legal forays, has actually authorised national prosecutors to research feasible election crimes prior to the results are certified.

Plus the president may well not however be performed together with his overhaul. washington is awash with talk that the administrators for the cia together with federal bureau of research two of the couple of high-level opportunities that ordinarily carry over from administration to another are after that regarding chopping block.

You will have a smooth change to an extra trump administration, assistant of state mike pompeo said on tuesday, a range delivered with a half smile that still delivered shivers down the spine of numerous democrats in washington.

Even mr trumps harshest experts note, however, there are considerable safeguards to prevent any attempt by the president to subvert the constitutional order above all the uniformed army, in which officers are making clear their loyalty is to the country as opposed to the present president.

General mark milley, the chairman for the combined chiefs of staff, has delivered not-so-subtle communications to congress that he is ready to resist any extrajudicial steps taken by mr trump.

Gen milley makes those protestations after coming under intense criticism within the summer for joining the united states president while in consistent on a stroll to a chapel close to the white home after peaceful protesters was indeed dispersed with tear-gas. the general apologised across event.

Other pentagon experts think you can find probably much more boring grounds for mr trumps latest manoeuvres.

Some believe the president is merely being vindictive against officials considered insufficiently faithful. other individuals reckon mr trump really wants to remove obstacles to ordering the withdrawal of soldiers from afghanistan. that view is bolstered because of the hiring of douglas macgregor, a retired army colonel just who backs withdrawing through the country, as a pentagon adviser.

Other figures have actually privately raised concerns that the president might-be deciding on armed forces activity, such giving israel the green light to strike iran, and it is wanting to remove officials expected to object.

James stavridis, a retired united states admiral who served given that supreme allied commander at nato and remains in regular connection with pentagon officials, ended up being doubtful the techniques had been linked to iran.

I'd say the firings within pentagon tend to be a pretty great exemplory case of occams shaver, the easy description is the better, mr stavridis said. he had been frustrated because of the senior leadership whom he believed had been insufficiently supportive when you look at the months prior to the election which led to an act of vengeance and petulance.

For some of their tenure, mr esper had been named yesper, showing the scene that he ended up being reluctant to face around mr trump. but he dropped out-of favour with all the president within the summer as he opposed mr trumps press to invoke the insurrection act to deploy active-duty soldiers in american roads to answer anti-racism protests.

Ms slaughter stated numerous retired defence secretaries, including jim mattis, and former chairmen for the joint chiefs had delivered the best message they are able to that officials respect lies utilizing the constitution.

If donald trump disobeys the constitution, or truly subverts constitutional norms, they'll not react [to their orders], ms slaughter included.

Follow demetri sevastopulo on twitter