In the last two weeks Donald Trump said shoplifters should be shot immediately, suggested executing the top general of the United States and mocked the husband of a political opponent who was hit with a hammer.
The former president and current front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination has also promoted the impeachment of the Democratic president in recent weeks Joe Biden Because the “bad guys have indicted me TWICE,” he called on his party to shut down the U.S. government in hopes of stalling some of the criminal cases he is facing, saying that he, If he were re-elected to the White House, NBC News would threaten MSNBC’s access to the airwaves due to coverage of him that he described as “nationally threatening treason.”
Since his earliest days in public life as a New York real estate tycoon, Trump has favored language that makes him appear tough and abrasive, especially when it comes to crimes and retribution for his perceived enemies. But the rhetorical escalation seen in recent weeks bears striking parallels to the hardline approaches characteristic of his authoritarian regimes occasionally praisedlike the rule of the Russian president Wladimir Putin or North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
“Violence is now his political project,” said Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a historian at New York University. “Aside from his own victimhood, that’s what he brings up the most.”
Ben-Ghiat, author of a book called “Strongmen,” argues that Trump fits well into this category. His recent comments about shooting shoplifters, for example, are reminiscent of strong figures he has previously praised, such as the former Philippine president Rodrigo Dutertewhose war on drugs took center stage “Extrajudicial killings” of thousands of suspects without trial or in other countries where military leader disappear afterwards fall into disgrace with the regime.
Trump has made inflammatory and violent statements for nearly a decade, often without consequence.
He has considered shooting illegal border crossers in the legs and has offered to pay the legal fees of people who beat up protesters who disrupted his campaign rallies in 2016.
Trump’s words can also anger his supporters and have direct consequences, most clearly in the case of January 6, 2021, when his lies about his election defeat in 2020 energized a crowd of supporters who attacked the U.S. Capitol in a failed attempt to stop Congress from certifying Biden’s presidential victory.
They can also incite Trump’s own party, which then incorporates the former president’s vendettas and impulses into its own agenda.
After Trump’s complaints about political persecution by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Republicans have now demanded Dissolution of the law enforcement agency and the GOP-controlled House of Representatives has created an investigative committee “armament” the federal government.
After Trump mused about bombing drug labs in Mexico, his rivals for the Republican nomination have made increasingly aggressive proposals to use the military to attack cartels in the U.S.’s southern neighbor, which would amount to a unilateral use of force on foreign soil, as they have Trump’s proposal railed against it.
The violence and revenge in Trump’s comments have increased in recent weeks as his lead in the Republican primary appeared to solidify and his legal jeopardy loomed four criminal casesand a fraud case threatening its business have intensified.
The comments have also alarmed the legal system.
On Tuesday, a New York judge oversaw the civil fraud trial against the former president issue a silence order Trump was blocked from speaking about his staff after the former president posted a picture of the court clerk on his social media network Truth Social.
Last month, federal prosecutor Jack Smith requested a gag order his criminal case against Trump about his attempt to overturn the 2020 election results, pointing to Trump’s series of inflammatory statements about prosecutors, the judge in the case and even his recent suggestion that Mark Milley, the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had committed treason and Doing so should also be executed.
The comment referenced phone calls Milley made to his counterpart in China toward the end of Trump’s term, including after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol Give “reassurance”. the main opponent of the USA.
Trump described the calls as a “treasonous act” for which “in earlier times, death would have been the punishment!” In an interview with “60 Minutes,” Milley said he took precautions after Trump’s social media post to protect his family.
Although most members of his party have remained silent, Trump’s comments about Milley horrified some Republicans. His former vice president, Mike Pence, called her on Tuesday “completely unacceptable” at a national security and foreign policy event at Georgetown University in Washington co-sponsored by The Associated Press.
Trump’s former White House chief of staff, John Kelly, released a statement to CNN on Tuesday in which he also decried his former boss’s attack on Milley. It also contained a long list of conduct that Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general, said showed Trump “has nothing but contempt for our democratic institutions, our Constitution and the rule of law.”
Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung did not respond to a request for comment about the former president’s language.
On the debate stage last week, Trump’s rivals for the Republican Party nomination did not address the former president’s more inflammatory rhetoric. Instead, they focused their relatively rare criticism of Trump on his decision to skip the debate, how he increased the national debt while running the country and his comments on abortion.
Democrats, including Biden, have warned that Trump and his supporters in his “Make America Great Again” movement pose a threat to American democracy. In a speech The day after the debate, Biden told Republicans that “the silence is deafening.”
“I think there’s a feeling that you don’t want to offend your voters and that your words don’t matter,” Alex Conant, a Republican strategist, said of how carefully Trump’s rivals are skirting his violent rhetoric. “But if you only criticize him in passing, you won’t convince anyone to change their vote.”
In fact, some of Trump’s rivals have even tried to emulate his more violent rhetoric, such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who vowed to “cut the throats” of federal bureaucrats after his election.
Conant said that “part of Trump’s chicness is that he says things no one else will say,” and while it might offend people and endear him to independent voters, his supporters see it as a sign of authenticity and love that on him.
“Nothing he says has ever really cost him his own base,” he said.
At the California Republican Party convention last week in an Anaheim hotel ballroom, Trump’s rhetoric reached another level. In a heavily Democratic state where Republican faithful had little to cheer, the former president’s arrival sparked a celebration with attendees wearing red, white and blue Trump gear forming a conga line before the speech of the former president began.
Trump joked about a hammer attack in which Paul Pelosi, the 80-year-old husband of former Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, suffered a fractured skull after a man spreading conservative conspiracy theories broke into their home last year.
“We’re going to stand up to crazy Nancy Pelosi who ruined San Francisco – how’s her husband, anyone know?” Trump said as the crowd laughed and cheered loudly.
Associated Press writers Jonathan J. Cooper and Michael R. Blood in Anaheim, California, contributed to this report.