This morning, Eric Swalwell was on Inside with Jen Psaki torturing fellow Californian Kevin McCarthy. He’s got a rapier tongue and told her that “McCarthy is a spectator speaker. He may have the title, but Donald Trump and Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz, they all share the job… only worried about his own job and keeping it… McCarthy could simply bring forward the same legislation that Senator Schumer and McConnell have worked on in the Senate, that President Biden would sign, and be an adult and put the country first, and we would fund the government before funding run out. But, instead, the House Republicans are failures. They are the failures. They failed to govern. And because they can’t govern, they failed to fund. And because they can’t fund on every core area where we need government, they’re going to fail to protect.”
But don’t get the idea that that’s the only plague the Republican Party is inflicting on the country. This afternoon, a quintet of NY Times reporters took on the increasingly threats of violence emanating from the MAGAts in light of Trump’s prosecutions. Judges, FBI agents’ families, prosecutors are being threatened by violent Trumpists. “As the prosecutions of Trump have accelerated,” wrote Michael Schmidt, Adam Goldman, Alan Feuer, Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush, “so too have threats against law enforcement authorities, judges, elected officials and others. The threats, in turn, are prompting protective measures, a legal effort to curb his angry and sometimes incendiary public statements, and renewed concern about the potential for an election campaign in which Trump has promised ‘retribution’ to produce violence.”
Yesterday Trump posted this about Mark Milley:
And today Arizona Nazi Paul Gosar followed up with his own threat to Milley in a deranged newsletter (funded with taxpayer dollar): “General Milley, the homosexual-promoting-BLM-activist Chairman of the military joint chiefs, delayed. Of course, we now know that the deviant Milley was coordinating with Nancy Pelosi to hurt President Trump, and treasonously working behind Trump’s back. In a better society, quislings like the strange sodomy-promoting General Milley would be hung. He had one boss: President Trump, and instead he was secretly meeting with Pelosi and coordinating with her to hurt Trump. That is, when he wasn’t also secretly coordinating and sharing intelligence with the Chinese military. How this traitor remains in office is a question we need answered.
Back to Schmidt, Goldman, Feuer, Haberman and Thrush: “Given the attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters on Jan. 6, 2021, scholars, security experts, law enforcement officials and others are increasingly warning about the potential for lone-wolf attacks or riots by angry or troubled Americans who have taken in the heated rhetoric. In April, before federal prosecutors indicted Trump, one survey showed that 4.5 percent of American adults agreed with the idea that the use of force was “justified to restore Donald Trump to the presidency.” Just two months later, after the first federal indictment of Trump, that figure surged to 7 percent. The indictments of Trump “are the most important current drivers of political violence we now have,” said the author of the study, Robert Pape, a political scientist who studies political violence at the University of Chicago.”
Let’s keep in mind this pretty dire warning from yesterday: “Trump’s racism is linked to his willingness to deploy violence in order to foster identification. Trump’s lies became the vehicle for bringing together large numbers of people who would have liked to lash out but didn’t have the courage. He made them feel that their anger and contempt [especially toward people of color]— whatever its source— was legitimate. And, very importantly, he convinced people viscerally that the norms of civilized society were part of a rigged system.”
[T]he threats have been steady and credible enough to prompt intense concern among law enforcement officials. Attorney General Merrick Garland addressed the climate in testimony to Congress on Wednesday, saying that while he recognized that the department’s work came with scrutiny, the demonization of career prosecutors and FBI agents was menacing not only his employees but also the rule of law.
“Singling out individual career public servants who are just doing their jobs is dangerous— particularly at a time of increased threats to the safety of public servants and their families,” Garland said.
“We will not be intimidated,” he added. “We will do our jobs free from outside influence. And we will not back down from defending our democracy.”
Security details have been added for several high-profile law enforcement officials across the country, including career prosecutors running the day-to-day investigations.
The FBI… created a special unit to deal with the threats. A U.S. official said threats since then have risen more than 300 percent, in part because the identities of employees, and information about them, are being spread online.
…In a brief filed in Washington federal court this month, Jack Smith, the special counsel overseeing the Justice Department’s prosecutions of Trump, took the extraordinary step of requesting a gag order against Trump. He linked threats against prosecutors and the judge presiding in the case accusing Trump of conspiring to overturn the results of the 2020 election to the rhetoric Trump had used before Jan. 6.
“The defendant defendant continues these attacks on individuals precisely because he knows that in doing so, he is able to roil the public and marshal and prompt his supporters,” the special counsel’s office said in a court filing.
…Trump’s language has often been, at a minimum, aggressive and confrontational toward his perceived foes, and sometimes has at least bordered on incitement.
On Friday, Trump baselessly suggested in a social media post that Gen. Mark Milley, the departing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, might have engaged in treason, “an act so egregious that, in times gone by, the penalty would have been DEATH.”
The day before the threatening call last month to Judge Tanya Chutkan’s chambers in Federal District Court in Washington, Trump posted on his social media site: “IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I’M COMING FOR YOU!” (A Texas woman was later charged with making the call.)
Smith— whom Trump has described as “a thug” and “deranged”— has been a particular target of violent threats, and his office is on pace to spend $8 million to $10 million on protective details for him, his family and senior staff members, according to officials.
Members of his plainclothes detail were conspicuously present as he entered an already locked-down Washington federal courtroom last month to witness Trump’s arraignment on the election interference charges— standing a few feet from the former president’s own contingent of Secret Service agents.
On Friday, a judge presiding over a case in Colorado about whether Trump can be disqualified from the ballot there for his role in promoting the Jan. 6 attack issued a protective order barring threats or intimidation of anyone connected to the case. The judge cited the types of potential dangers laid out by Smith in seeking the gag order on Trump in the federal election case.
…[M]any scholars and experts who study political violence place the blame for the current atmosphere most squarely on Trump— abetted by the unwillingness of many Republican politicians to object to or tamp down the violent and apocalyptic language on social media and in the conservative media.
In one example of how Trump’s sway over his followers can have real-world effects, a man who had been charged with storming the Capitol on Jan. 6 was arrested in June looking for ways to get near former President Barack Obama’s Washington home. The man— who was armed with two guns and 400 rounds of ammunition and had a machete in the van he was living in— had hours earlier reposted on social media an item Trump had posted that same day, which claimed to show Obama’s home address.
In his first two years out of office, Trump’s public comments largely focused on slowly revising the history of what happened on Jan. 6, depicting it as mostly peaceful. At his rallies and in interviews, he has described the rioters who have been arrested as “great patriots,” said they should be released, dangled pardons for them and talked repeatedly about rooting out “fascists,” “Marxists” and “communists” from government.
Perhaps you first read "Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?" in Salman Rushdie's novel The Satanic Verses or Michael Frayn's play Becket. Or perhaps in Christopher Hitchens' book God Isn't Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. But the quote is history as well as literature. In 1170, King Henry II used it in reference to Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury. Becket had been appointed by Pope Alexander III and he had been a vocal critic of Henry’s policies that directly interfered with the independence of the Church. Henry's knights interpreted his words as a request, and they assassinated Becket in Canterbury Cathedral.
The parallel with what Trump has been doing on social media is obvious— inciting violence against people he sees as a threat, just as Henry did. Henry knew that his knights would be eager to carry out his command to assassinate Becket, and Trump knows that his deranged MAGAt supporters are likely to be receptive to his messages about violence against his foes. And keep in mind that Trump's use of social media to foment violence is not just a historical curiosity. It is a real and present danger. In January 2021, a mob Trump incited sacked the Capitol in an attempt to overturn the results of the election. In Gosar’s words, “In a better society, quislings like” Trump would have his tongue cut out or would at the very least by forced to wear a muzzle.