Donald Trump, even before he started running for president for the first time in 2015, was known for going a lot further with his rhetoric than most people in politics. He spent years pushing the ludicrous notion that Barack Obama was not born in the United States. In his presidential announcement speech, he said of Mexican immigrants that “they’re rapists.” He referred to the press, numerous times, as “the enemy of the people.”
But now, in his third presidential campaign, conducted as he faces four separate criminal indictments in addition to civil suits, Trump has ramped up the violent rhetoric. Personal shots at the judges and prosecutors in his cases are joined by implications that he will use the government, in a second term, to strike back at his enemies.
According to an NBC News analysis, the former president has been using “increasingly violent terms” of late. And some of his supporters, as quoted by NBC News, have echoed Trump’s arguments that the former president’s critics are guilty of “treason” and should face penalties including death.
“In the past week, Trump suggested in an online post that Gen. Mark Milley, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, deserved to face the death penalty. In California, he called for shoplifters to be shot on sight,” the NBC News analysis said. “Criticizing former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., during the same speech, he mockingly asked how Pelosi’s husband was doing, referring to the violent attack on Paul Pelosi last year during a home invasion by an assailant authorities say was steeped in Trump’s election conspiracy theories.”
When Paul Pelosi was attacked in his own home in late 2022, a popular conspiracy theory emerged on the right that the former speaker’s husband had been attacked by a gay lover. There was never any factual basis for this, and the language of the indictment completely debunked that theory. Even so, Paul Pelosi’s name is frequently invoked as a laugh line by Trump and other Republican politicians.
Trump has been making many incendiary comments on Truth Social, a social media platform that he himself owns and from which he does not ever face the risk of banishment. Furthermore, he’s writing for an audience consisting only of his supporters, and with an unlimited word count.
However, this week Trump actually made a rare deletion of a Truth Social post. According to NBC News, the former president was ordered to delete a post that disparaged a clerk of the judge in one of his cases.
The order came from Judge Arthur Engoron, who is presiding over Trump’s ongoing civil fraud trial. Trump attended the trial in person earlier this week, something he has avoided doing in past civil trials.
“Personal attacks on members of my court staff are unacceptable, inappropriate and I won’t tolerate it,” the judge said in his order. “Consider this a gag order on all parties with respect to posting or publicly speaking about any member of my staff.”
The post that was deleted featured a picture of the clerk with Senate Majority Leader Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), and Trump insinuating that the clerk is Schumer’s “girlfriend.” There is no evidence that the clerk has any relationship with Schumer, other than having once had her picture taken with him, nor that the Senate majority leader is acting as any kind of hidden hand in the fraud trial.
“As is well known, Sen. Schumer attends countless events in every corner of the state where tens of thousands of constituents take photos with him, just like this one, which was taken at a stop at an annual brunch in Manhattan,” a spokesman for the majority leader told the New York Post, adding that the accusation is “ridiculous, absurd, and false.”
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Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Stephen has authored thousands of articles over the years that focus on politics, technology, and the economy for over a decade. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter) at @StephenSilver, and subscribe to his Substack newsletter.
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