A Trump supporter known as the MAGA Bomber is accused of the attempted bombing of a dozen Democrats and members of the media. He had pictures of many of his targets and additional potential future targets in his van windows.
After his arrest, President Donald Trump took a bow, saying: “We must never allow political violence. I’m doing everything in my power as president to stop it and stop it now.”
But six years ago to the day, Trump tweeted a speculation that an attempted bombing might help secure an election for the President in power.
Be careful of an Obama "bomb" to win election! Would be a horrible thing to do.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 26, 2012
Violent rhetoric from the far right is a powerful force in politics at the moment; Gavin McInnes, founder of the alt-right Proud Boys, is a big fan of choking as a means of political statement. The NRA regularly produces threatening commercials. In Nashville, gay bars have gotten vaguely threatening postcards. And, of course, there’s Trump himself.
Trump has encouraged attendees at his rallies to attack protesters and promised to pay their legal fees (which he at least considered actually doing), has praised body-slamming reporters and encouraged police brutality.
And of course, there’s the time the President of the United States tweeted a gif depicting him body-slamming a person representing CNN. CNN received one of the suspect’s bombs.
All the while, Republicans have accused Democrats of being a “mob“. This apparently references how protesters of Republican policies have interrupted dinners of government officials and took to the halls of Congress to oppose the appointment of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
“I really worry that someone is going to be killed and that those who are ratcheting up the conversation — they have to realize that they bear some responsibility if this elevates to violence,” said Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky).
Meanwhile, most instances of terrorism in America have been carried out by right-wing extremists, including, apparently, the Florida man arrested Friday. The recent instances of political violence reopen old wounds for survivors of past instances of domestic terror.
But for Trump, political violence is part of how he sees the world. It’s something he tweets about, something he campaigns with, and it’s something he sees as a tool a President would use in a tough election.
Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor and senior legal reporter for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.