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MAGA Cultists Are Calling For Political Violence After Trump’s Indictment

Jun 12, 2023

In the wake of former President Donald Trump’s indictment, MAGA Republicans are turning to calls for political violence. Even though the indictment suggests Trump has risked “the national security of the United States, foreign relations, the safety of the United States military, and human sources” by unlawfully keeping classified documents at his Florida home and club open to members of the public, Republicans are using wartime rhetoric with some MAGA groups working to bus-in heavily armed Trump supporters from all across Florida. In response, Congressional Integrity Project executive director, Kyle Herrig, issued the following statement.

“The MAGA cultists in Congress who follow Donald Trump not only refuse to condemn his illegal actions but are portraying the indictment as an act of war and calling for armed protests and other violence – just like they did in the lead up to January 6th, while attempting to overthrow an election. This clearly shows that they have the wrong priorities and only care about their own political power, returning Trump to office by whatever means necessary (including unlawful and violent ones), and pushing their extreme agenda onto the American people. There is no place in our democracy for political violence or the rhetoric which incites it and such actions should be roundly condemned.”

MAGA Republicans Are Using Wartime Rhetoric & Calling For Armed Protests In Response To Trump’s Indictment:

  • Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA) Told Trump Supporters To “Buckle Up” and “Know Your Bridges.” After Trump announced his indictment, Higgins tweeted a call-to-action: “This is a perimeter probe from the oppressors. Hold. rPOTUS has this. Buckle up. 1/50K know your bridges. Rock steady calm. That is all.” Higgins spent decades in paramilitary groups, and 1:50,000 is an apparent reference for supporters to scale approaches to military targets (in this case, strateigically important bridges). After facing significant backlash, Higgins walked back earlier comments, writing: “Patriots, we’ve manipulated the MSM to establish deep commo, now copy this… do NOT trip the wire they’ve laid for you. Maintain your family. Live your life. Know your bridges. Hold. Let Trump handle Trump, he’s got this. We use the Constitution as our only weapon. Peace. Hold.”
  • Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) Announced A “War Phase.” In reponse to Trump’s indictment, Biggs took to Twitter to write, “We have now reached a war phase. Eye for an eye.” He later suggested that the Biden administration was “an authoritarian regime.”
  • Former Arizona GOP Governor Nominee Kari Lake: “We Will Not Let You Lay A Finger On President Trump. Frankly, Now Is The Time To Cling To Our Guns.” “I have a message tonight for [US attorney general] Merrick Garland, and Jack Smith, and Joe Biden. And the guys back there in the fake news media, you should listen up as well, this one’s for you. If you want to get to President Trump, you’re going to have to go through me, and you’re going to have to go through 75 million Americans just like me. And I’m going to tell you, most of us are card-carrying members of the NRA [National Rifle Association]. That’s not a threat – that’s a public service announcement. We will not let you lay a finger on President Trump. Frankly, now is the time to cling to our guns and our religion.” [The Guardian, 6/12/23]
  • Trump’s Daughter-In-Law To Be Vowed “Retribution.” After the former President was indicted, Donald Trump Jr.’s fiance Kimberly Guilfoyle posted on Instagram, writing “Retribution Is Coming.” [New York Times, 6/12/23]
  • Vice: ‘I Want Blood’: Heavily-Armed Trump Supporters Say They’ll Protest Trump’s Indictment. “Supporters of former president Donald Trump are planning mass protests at a Miami courthouse on Tuesday, following Trump’s indictment last week. Many are promising to come ‘well-armed.’ […] But the use of military and extremist language around the protests has not been limited to fringe message boards: politicians and right-wing commentators are fanning the flames as well. Within minutes of Trump announcing on Truth Social that he had been indicted, right-wing media figures like Charlie Kirk were calling for mass protests in Miami this Tuesday. […] As extremism researcher Caroline Orr pointed out… ‘The involvement of members of Congress, prominent political figures, and Trump himself in promoting, inciting, and even hinting at violence is a risk factor for acts of political violence,’ Orr wrote in her newsletter about the comments. And over the weekend, multiple groups formed more concrete plans. The Christian conservative group Florida Republican Assembly said they chartered four buses to bring Trump fans from all corners of the state to Miami on Tuesday, in what they are dubbing the ‘America First Freedom Road Trip.’” [Vice, 6/12/23]

MAGA Republicans Are Calling The Biden Administration a “Banana Republic” In Order To Spark Retribution. 

  • Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC): “This is a banana republic. I can’t believe this is happening.” [Fox News, 6/8/23, VIDEO]
  • Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX): “Dictatorships & banana republics try to imprison their predecessors & opponents.” [Twitter, 6/9/23]
  • Senator Mike Lee (R-UT): “The Biden administration’s actions can only be compared to the type of oppressive tactics routinely seen in nations such as Venezuela, Bolivia, and Nicaragua, which are absolutely alien and unacceptable in America.” [Twitter, 6/9/23]

The New Republic: Inside the GOP’s Latest Desperate Attempt to Smear Joe Biden. “If you get your news on planet Earth, you agree with me that the biggest news story of last week was the federal indictment of Donald Trump. If, however, you get your news on planet Wingnuttia, you have been led to believe that while the Trump matter was certainly news, the bigger deal by several orders of magnitude was the ‘proof’ that emerged last week that Joe Biden took a $5 million bribe from Ukraine and that Representative Jamie Raskin lied about it. You’ve also been told that the timing of the Trump indictment was no mere coincidence—it was handed down precisely to distract America from the ‘fact’ of Biden’s corruption. […[ It’s all right out of the playbook the right wing has been using for the last 30 years. They just make up stuff about Democratic presidents and presidential candidates. It has failed more often than it’s worked. But it’s worked often enough that we need to pay some attention to it and understand what’s going on here.” [The New Republic, 6/12/23]

The Atlantic: The Congressman Telling Trump Supporters to ‘Buckle Up’. “The night that Donald Trump was indicted, Republican politicians again swore their allegiance to the man and the base for which he stands. Most invoked banana republics, but a bolder faction suggested retaliation. […] So Higgins—like Andy Biggs, like Kari Lake, like Trump himself—alludes to the threat that fascism may yet pose. It’s a tidy maneuver: They spook liberals into mocking them. That mockery feeds their own base. Do they believe what they’re saying? Do they mean their violent implications? Does it matter? Their civil war is imaginary, but there really are men with guns, more now than I’ve seen in 20 years of reporting on the right. […] There are, of course, ‘Feds’ everywhere, as every militia member knows. Since January 6, it’s become conventional wisdom on the right that public displays of force are most likely antifa in disguise or FBI trolls, trying to make patriots simply fighting the cabal look crazy. The patriots aren’t. You are. You thought this was funny. That’s what they wanted you to think. Or so they tell themselves, communicating on a frequency that they believe the libs—the demon-crats—the globalists—the cabal—can’t hear. Too often, they’re right.” [The Atlantic, 6/11/23]

The Guardian: Fears That Republicans’ Rhetoric After Trump Indictment Could Spark Violence. “Belligerent and conspiracy-laden rhetoric from high-profile Republican backers of Donald Trump has heightened fears that the former US president’s campaign against his legal troubles could trigger political violence. […] The statements from the two far-right congressmen – both of whom voted to overturn the 2020 election – underscore the alarming way that violent rhetoric has seeped into mainstream US political discourse in the Republican party especially in the wake of Trump’s indictment. An estimated 12 million adults – 4.4% of the US population – believe violence is justified to return Trump to power, according to a recent survey by the University of Chicago’s Project on Security & Threats (CPOST). ‘I’ve been reporting on rightwing movements for 20 years. The ‘heat’ is hotter, the blast stronger. And the source more pungent,’ said Jeffrey Sharlet, a professor at Dartmouth College and author of The Undertow, a book studying the far right. ‘The ‘rhetoric’ is specific: while Twitter giggled at what it took to be the ‘word salad’ of Higgins’ statement, those who study militias read it as the call to arms it is.’ It is language that has been encouraged by Trump himself since before he was elected but that perhaps peaked around the January 6 attack on the US Capitol as his supporters invaded the building to try and prevent the certification of Joe Biden’s election win.” [The Guardian, 6/11/23]

Rolling Stone: Trump Extremists Demand Civil War, Mass Murder After New Indictment. “Extreme supporters of Donald Trump have met news of his federal indictment with visions of violence and retribution. At The Donald, a forum for ultra-MAGA Trump supporters, users demanded public executions and other forms of lynching to avenge the federal prosecution of Trump, for the alleged mishandling of state secrets at Mar a Lago after he was no longer president. The calls for violence appeared in comment threads, responding to posts on the front page of the forum Thursday night, after news broke of Trump’s latest legal troubles. The most extreme comments were written in response to a fanciful post insisting ‘the only solution’ to DOJ’s efforts to lock up Trump would be to vote him back into the presidency, so Trump could ‘pardon himself and begin arresting those guilty of insurrection and sedition.’ […] …users were also ‘very angry’ about Trump’s first indictment in New York, making posts that included ‘calls for civil war, violence, and retribution. […] In fact, the threat of civil war was on the minds of The Donald again on Thursday.” [Rolling Stone, 6/9/23]

The New York Times: Trump Supporters’ Violent Rhetoric in His Defense Disturbs Experts. “The federal indictment of former President Donald J. Trump has unleashed a wave of calls by his supporters for violence and an uprising to defend him, disturbing observers and raising concerns of a dangerous atmosphere ahead of his court appearance in Miami on Tuesday. In social media posts and public remarks, close allies of Mr. Trump — including a member of Congress — have portrayed the indictment as an act of war, called for retribution and highlighted the fact that much of his base carries weapons. The allies have painted Mr. Trump as a victim of a weaponized Justice Department controlled by President Biden, his potential opponent in the 2024 election. The calls to action and threats have been amplified on right-wing media sites and have been met by supportive responses from social media users and cheers from crowds, who have become conditioned over several years by Mr. Trump and his allies to see any efforts to hold him accountable as assaults against him. Experts on political violence warn that attacks against people or institutions become more likely when elected officials or prominent media figures are able to issue threats or calls for violence with impunity. The pro-Trump mob that attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, was drawn to Washington in part by a post on Twitter from Mr. Trump weeks earlier, promising that it would be ‘wild.’” [The New York Times, 6/10/23]

Axios: Trump Proclaims His “Final Battle” After Federal Indictment. “A wave of anger is spreading through the GOP after the federal indictment of former President Trump, with online message boards filled with disturbing vitriol and law enforcement on alert ahead of his Tuesday court date in Miami. […] Zoom in: Some of Trump’s ultra-MAGA supporters have turned to the online forum ‘The Donald’ to openly fantasize about acts of violence, per Rolling Stone. ‘The Donald’ is the same website that helped dream up and promote the deadly Jan. 6th insurrection. It’s been kicked off several web servers, including Reddit, for being too extreme and violating various rules. ‘If they steal the election again why are we talking about anything but dragging the political elite out of their homes and setting them on fire?’ asked one user named vax_was_a_bioweapon.” [Axios, 6/12/23]