Pundits, political rivals and allies have warned of the dangers of the rhetoric and targeted attacks of President Donald Trump on Twitter and during his MAGA rallies. Yet Trump continues to refuse to accept any responsibility for bomb threats, violence and acts of domestic terrorism that mimic the President’s own rhetoric from MAGA rallies and his Twitter feed.
But have any violent perpetrators specifically mentioned Trump as inspiration beyond mimicking his White nationalism, racist or xenophobic rhetoric? Is Trump inciting violence?
The President remarked after the act of domestic terrorism in El Paso:
“I think my rhetoric brings people together.”
I asked Trump whether he thinks his rhetoric contributes at all to violence. “No, I don’t think my rhetoric has at all,” he said. “I think my rhetoric is a very – it brings people together. Our country is doing incredibly well.”
— Jill Colvin (@colvinj) August 7, 2019
Trump just told the press “my rhetoric brings people together. pic.twitter.com/uzwOntBiKb
— Amee Vanderpool (@girlsreallyrule) August 7, 2019
But what kind of people and what are they rallying behind?
ABC News compiled 36 cases citing Trump in relation to violence and credible threats.
According to their research, in 36 criminal cases “Trump was invoked in direct connection with violent acts, threats of violence or allegations of assault.”
- 9 cases: “perpetrators hailed Trump in the midst or immediate aftermath of physically attacking innocent victims”
- 10 cases: “perpetrators cheered or defended Trump while taunting or threatening others”
- 10 cases: “Trump and his rhetoric were cited in court to explain a defendant’s violent or threatening behavior”
- 7 cases: “violent or threatening acts in defiance of Trump, most targeting Trump’s allies in Congress”
- 29 of 36 criminal cases: “echoing presidential rhetoric, not protesting it”
In compiling criminal cases that invoked Trump, ABC News excluded vandalism and violent assaults on anti-Trump protestors at MAGA rallies. They also excluded cases where speculation made a connection to Trump ideology or the individual identified as pro-Trump, but court documents did not specifically name the President.
Researchers were unable to find a single criminal case linked to the 43rd or 44th Presidents, George W. Bush or Barack Obama. Trump related cases were identified by official court documents and law enforcement statements made under the penalty of perjury or contempt.
Court documents show the perpetrators and suspects identified in the 36 cases are mostly White men—teenagers to 75 years old. Victims largely are from minority groups—African-Americans, Latinos, Muslims and gay men.
The actual number of violent acts or threats is likely far greater as in many cases, charges are ultimately not filed, perpetrators are not investigated or the assault or threat is never reported.
Federal law enforcement officials echoed the concerns of many. Trump’s MAGA rallies, delivery style, White nationalist rhetoric and constant attacks against political opponents, the media or anyone who fails to praise him could easily incite violence.
Included is the so-called MAGA bomber who attended Trump MAGA rallies and targeted individuals and organizations the President himself targeted during speeches, interviews and on Twitter.
Another more recent case is not included of a 29 year-old man justifying fracturing the skull of a 13 year-old boy under orders from the President according to witnesses and his defense attorney. The boy “disrespected” the national anthem by wearing a hat—according to his attacker—and deserved to be picked up and slammed into the ground.
This 37th case’s court documents were filed after ABC News completed their research.
Prior to leaving for El Paso and Dayton, President Trump rejected the premise that his rhetoric has divided the country, as his critics have claimed. He said “my rhetoric … brings people together.” We review his rhetoric. https://t.co/uQF9OeiXom
— FactCheck.org (@factcheckdotorg) August 9, 2019
Trump supporters are quick to point out the latest White nationalist domestic terrorist stated in his online manifesto that he held his views—which mirrored the President’s—long before Trump. However the xenophobic mass murderer’s math doesn’t work.
Private citizen Donald Trump began using White supremacist, White nationalist, xenophobic and racist rhetoric on Twitter during the presidency of Barack Obama. The El Paso terrorist is 21 years old.
If his manifesto—naming President Trump yet claiming Trump bears no responsibility for ideas and rhetoric he spread online—were to be believed, long before Trump would make the domestic terrorist 8-10 years old when he fully formed the identical talking points of President Trump and his administration.
Trump gaslighting: “I think my rhetoric brings people together.”
Facts: ABC News has identified at least 36 criminal cases where Trump was invoked in direct connection with violent acts, threats of violence or allegations of assault. https://t.co/yhy8XgHxTn
— Steven Beschloss (@StevenBeschloss) August 14, 2019
Donald Trump just now: “I think my rhetoric…brings people together.”
Brings people together? His rhetoric is tearing our nation apart and inspiring white supremacist terrorist attacks.
— Ryan Knight 🗽 (@ProudResister) August 7, 2019
When a reporter asked if his rhetoric divides Americans, Trump responded, “I don’t think my rhetoric does at all. My rhetoric is very—it brings people together.”
— Democratic Coalition (@TheDemCoalition) August 13, 2019
His rhetoric IS bringing people together… too bad those people are racists.
— =🤖= (@robotrobb) August 7, 2019
He is once again gaslighting, when is the press going to have the moral fortitude to check him on it-why are they afraid to do so? pic.twitter.com/PzaY3wwYEy
— Flash Gordon (@FlashGo56556854) August 7, 2019
Antifa is responsible for ZERO deaths. Proud Boys, Oath Keepers: that’s a far different story. Your rhetoric is taken from the speeches of Benito Mussolini.
— Anthony (@acuithaca) August 7, 2019
“[My rheteroic] brings people together.”
— Donald J. Trump, today
FACT CHECK: ABSOLUTELY TRUE.
Mr. Trump’s rhetoric brings people together to form two groups:
(1) White supremacists; and
(2) People who don’t go to his rallies.
— Mrs. Betty Bowers (@BettyBowers) August 7, 2019
Just recently, Gun control advocate Fred Guttenberg responded directly to President Trump telling him he was inciting violence.
(1,2) This tweet really angers me. Do not use the issue of Red Flag laws in such a way where you may ruin the ability to get them done. This is not a joke to me. My daughter was a victim of gun violence in Parkland. I wish we had Red Flag laws at the time.
— Fred Guttenberg (@fred_guttenberg) August 13, 2019
(2,2) You regularly use horrible language to incite hate and violence. You incite the kind of violence that pushes others to use weapons against other Americans. Rather than using Red Flag to put out a ridiculous tweet, stop the inciting language and lets work together on this.
— Fred Guttenberg (@fred_guttenberg) August 13, 2019
Whether the President tones down his Twitter attacks or his rhetoric at MAGA rallies remains to be seen.