Trump Attacks On Political Adversaries Often Followed By Threats To Their Safety
Safety threats against President Trump’s political adversaries tend to increase after the president launches public attacks against them, The Washington Post reports.
The dynamic appears to be without precedent: government agencies taking extraordinary measures to protect their people from strains of seething hostility stoked by a sitting president.
- The whistleblower whose complaint sparked Trump’s impeachment reportedly “spent months living in no-frills hotels under surveillance by CIA security” and “was driven to work by armed officers in an unmarked sedan” due to threats.
- The CIA’s Security Protective Service monitored the online threats.
- “Over time, a pattern emerged: Violent messages surged each time the analyst was targeted in tweets or public remarks by the president," The Post reported.
- Nine days after unsealed FBI documents revealed a plot to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI) over her COVID restrictions, Trump lashed out at her at a rally, leading to chants of “Lock her up!”
- Trump responded, “Lock them all up.”
- A fresh round of hostility on social media followed within hours, according to Whitmer’s Deputy Digital Director, Tori Saylor.
- Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, told “60 Minutes” he requires security nearly round-the-clock due to threats against him and his family amid the pandemic.
It’s “sad,” Fauci said, that “a public health message to save lives triggers such venom and animosity that it results in real and credible threats to my life and my safety.”
- The Post acknowledged that it is difficult to ascertain the precise degree to which Trump could be considered responsible for the spate of threats against public officials.
- However, Trump “has fomented mob-like anger at perceived adversaries throughout his presidency” more than any of his predecessors.
Elizabeth Neumann, a Trump appointee who left her post in April as the Department of Homeland Security’s assistant secretary for counterterrorism and threat prevention, said the president continues to use inflammatory rhetoric despite warnings about dangerous repercussions.
“A healthy leader, when confronted with such facts, would say, ‘Oh my gosh, I had no idea and that was not my intent. Let me clear the air to make it clear I do not support these causes,’ ” Neumann said in an interview. “He does the opposite. He doubles down. He cannot admit that his language is having this horrible effect, because he knows it’s motivating to his supporters.”
- Kevin Grisham, associate director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University at San Bernardino, told The Post that self-identified members of extremist groups tend to echo Trump's rhetoric online, right down to “the same pieces of wording."
Whether the president “really intends to incite violence,” Grisham said, “the evidence points to a strong correlation.”