The tweets and stump speech comments that Donald Trump so casually tosses out about those who have fallen into his disfavor generate likes, retweets, applause, boos and chants of “lock him/her/them up.” The former reality TV show host revels in it. But the reality is that the targets of his barbs are living with the real life consequences.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, recently the target of a kidnapping and assassination plot, has been forceful in calling on Trump to tone down his rhetoric, accusing him this morning of stoking a “mob mentality” toward public officials.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer slammed President Trump for downplaying the alleged kidnapping plot against her, accusing him of stoking a "mob mentality" toward public officials. https://t.co/k4ujJBETwN
— CBS Mornings (@CBSMornings) October 28, 2020
Every time Trump rails against the Democratic governor during one of his speeches, online hostility against her spikes.
“I am the Governor’s Deputy Digital Director,” Tori Saylor said in a posting to Twitter. “I see everything that is said about and to her online. Every single time the president does this at a rally, the violent rhetoric towards her immediately escalates on social media. It has to stop. It just has to.”
CBS News correspondent Leslie Stahl, whose contentious “60 Minutes” interview with Trump was the subject of a number of derogatory presidential tweets, now has been provided with full-time security after she and her family received death threats.
National Institutes of Health infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci and his family received death threats after Trump called him “an idiot” and rage tweeted about him after Fauci publicly objected to being included in a Trump campaign ad. Fauci said it was sad 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.”
And, according to a Washington Post report, “The CIA’s most endangered employee for much of the past year was not an operative on a mission abroad, but an analyst who faced a torrent of threats after filing a whistleblower report that led to the impeachment of President Trump.
“The analyst spent months living in no-frills hotels under surveillance by CIA security, current and former U.S. officials said. He was driven to work by armed officers in an unmarked sedan. On the few occasions he was allowed to reenter his home to retrieve belongings, a security team had to sweep the apartment first to make sure it was safe.”
The CIA’s Security Protective Service monitored thousands of threats against the whistleblower across social media and Internet chat rooms. Just like with Whitmer, an unmistakable pattern emerged: violent messages surged each time the analyst was targeted in tweets or public remarks by Trump.
According to The Post, 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.”