Yesterday, the NY Times published a piece about the uptick in threats of violence directed at members of Congress. After Trump took office in 2016, threats against members of Congress jumped from 902 to 3,939. Trump's election gave the Nazis and assorted violent morons a kind of permission to let their freak flags fly. "The threats range from phone calls with gruesome, specific descriptions of violence that have led to jail time for the callers to broad threats posted on social media for which juries have, on occasion, acquitted those charged."
Catie Edmondson and Mark Walker wrote that since the beginning of Trump’s presidency, "a growing number of Americans have taken ideological grievance and political outrage to a new level, lodging concrete threats of violence against members of Congress... [T]hey surged during Trump’s time in office and in its aftermath, as the former president’s own violent language fueled a mainstreaming of menacing political speech and lawmakers used charged words and imagery to describe the stakes of the political moment. Far-right members of Congress have hinted that their followers should be prepared to take up arms and fight to save the country, and in one case even posted a video depicting explicitly violent acts against Democrats. A plurality of the cases reviewed by The Times, more than a third, involved Republican or pro-Trump individuals threatening Democrats or Republicans they found insufficiently loyal to the former president, with upticks around Trump’s first impeachment and, later, the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol last year. In some cases leading up to Congress’s official count of electoral votes on Jan. 6, callers left messages with lawmakers in both parties warning them to keep Trump in office or face violence."
Before dawn today, a senior Capitol Hill staffer told me that "While it is certainly true that there are crazy people from every corner of the political spectrum, only one major party leader is fomenting this dangerous violent rhetoric. I’ve personally fielded calls and listened to voicemails from some of these people and it is chilling. I’ve also worked with Capitol Police and the FBI as they tracked down and prosecuted some of the worst offenders. If anything these numbers understate how truly awful the political discourse has become. We only report the calls that are actual threats. Plenty of folks know the line and stay safely on the vile bigot side without crossing over to a specific threat. We’ve always had crazy people in the world, but now they have a party that legitimizes their delusion and it is truly dangerous."
In several cases, defense lawyers have taken to arguing that their client should not be punished for comments that were consistent with what elected officials and political pundits have said. Several rioters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 have employed similar “Trump made me do it” defenses.
When the judge in Carlineo’s case expressed concern during a hearing that the defendant had referred to [Ilhan] Omar in his phone call as a “radical Muslim” and said that people like her had no place in government, his lawyer cited comments both Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence had made about her.
In a second case involving a threat against [Maxine] Waters, the defendant’s lawyer argued that the judge should allow her to explain to the jury that her client’s call came after Trump had publicly feuded with Waters, and that the threat had even quoted some of Trump’s insults about the congresswoman.
In most cases, judges were clearly unsympathetic.
“Just because the current leader in Washington is permitting the type of discourse,” one judge fumed in 2017, when Trump was president, “that does not mean that it has to be countenanced. Some of this is just vile and threatening.”
Trump's own threats against his political opponents in Congress, though, are not violent-- even if they inspire violence from his two-digit IQ followers. Trump's threats are political-- and he's been following through on them. This morning, for example, Meg Kinnard reporting for the Associated Press wrote about Trump's latest effort to cancel Republican Congressman Nancy Mace in South Carolina. Yesterday, he gave her right-wing extremist Katie Arrington one of his one-size-fits-all rote endorsements in the Charleston-based swing district.
"Trump," wrote Kinnard, 'called Mace-- whom he endorsed in 2020, and who worked for his 2016 campaign-- 'an absolutely terrible candidate' whose 'remarks and attitude have been devastating for her community, and not at all representative of the Republican Party to which she has been very disloyal.' Arrington-- who ousted Rep. Mark Sanford in a 2018 GOP primary, only to lose the general election-- launched her primary challenge to Mace Tuesday. In a launch video [above], Arrington called Mace 'a sellout' who 'is more interested in being a mainstream media celebrity than fighting for the people she is supposed to represent.' Referencing some of Mace’s recent legislative efforts, including bills to protect large cats and legalize marijuana, Arrington then asked, 'Is Nancy Mace high?'" [Legalizing Marijuana in Charleston is probably more popular than Arrington and Trump combined.]
[A]fter the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, she went on TV to criticize Trump for his role in the day’s events, saying the president’s accomplishments in office “were wiped out in just a few short hours.”
Trump responded in November, soliciting “any interest from good and SMART America First Republican Patriots” to run against a list of sitting House Republicans, including Mace.
Many of the candidates Trump has endorsed across the country have received that backing after making public statements about the 2020 presidential election having been rigged so Trump would lose.
...Since her 2018 loss, Arrington has worked for the Defense Department as a chief information security officer. Her security clearance was suspended last year and she was placed on administrative leave as “a result of a reported Unauthorized Disclosure of Classified Information and subsequent removal of access by the National Security Agency,” according to a memo confirmed at the time by her attorney.
Arrington told the AP she resigned that post this week, saying she felt the agency had been “politicized” and Biden administration officials didn’t want a “Trump-era conservative leading a national effort.”
Trump’s endorsement puts him in direct conflict with Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor who served as his U.N. ambassador and, like Trump, is reportedly mulling a 2024 presidential bid. This week, Haley announced her support for Mace, saying she would raise money on her behalf.
Kevin McCarthy, who has told Republican members he had an agreement from Trump not to undercut incumbents who didn't vote against impeaching him-- and Mace did not-- had no comment on Trump slamming Mace. Several Republicans have noted that McCarthy is well-described by words like "spineless" and "jelly fish." There are 4 other Republicans in the primary. Mace has raised close to $3 million and none of the other Republicans have raised even $100,000. Presumably, with Arrington winning the coveted Trump endorsement, some of the others will drop out now.
There are also 3 Democrats competing for the party nomination in the R+7 district, where Trump beat Biden 52.1% to 46.1%. [Trump lost Charleston County by double digits, 55.5% to 42.6%.] Annie Andrews, a pediatrician, is the only Democrat's raising significant money (around half a million dollars as of December 30). Reading through her campaign's issues pages, I saw she didn't come out for Medicare-for-All per se, but did write that "We must put every American’s health over profits for insurance and pharmaceutical companies," often a short-hand way of expressing support for single payer.
She has strong planks on gun-control, Climate, voting rights and corruption but a moronic and completely ignorant perspective on what she calls "fiscal responsibility." I called her to offer to introduce her to Stephanie Kelton but she ignored my call. instead she wrote this claptrap, that a junior high school student would have been able to tell her is just flat-out wrong. "I believe," she wrote, "the federal government should operate under the same rules as most Lowcountry families: don’t spend more than you take in. That’s why I am a firm believer in implementing a Pay-As-You-Go policy to prevent Congress from adding to the deficit." People who have asked me why Blue America hasn't endorsed her, need only re-read that childishness and remember that Blue America is here to encourage Congress to solve the country's serious problems, not make them worse. (Our congressional candidates are here.)