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Trumps Messaging on FBI Search Echos Statements January 6




In the week since the FBI executed a search warrant at the home of former President Donald Trump, many of his supporters continued to grow angry, prompting an upsurge in threats against federal agents, including a attempted attack on the FBI field office in Cincinnati which left the attacker dead.

In such a difficult time, Trump on Monday returned to a playbook he previously used on Jan. 6, 2021: apparently offering to help calm his supporters while feeding their anger by portraying that anger as justified.

Trump told Fox News Digital in an interview on Monday that “the country is in a very dangerous position.” He said: “Anything we can do to help – because the temperature needs to be lowered in the country. If not, terrible things will happen.

He then added: “The people of this country will not put up with another scam.”

Trump’s public offering of an olive branch, while continuing to inflame his supporters, echoed his handling of the mob that attacked the Capitol as Congress gathered to certify victory. of Joe Biden on him in the 2020 election. Prior to that deadly riot, Trump’s statements helped his supporters take action, according to evidence presented by the Jan. 6 committee in dramatic hearings this summer.

Once his supporters marched to the Capitol and began engaging in hand-to-hand combat with law enforcement, Trump refused several pleas from those around him to help end the violence. . Finally, he sent out a tweet that urged the crowd to leave and suggested he supported their behavior.

“These are the things and events that happen when a hallowed landslide election victory is so unceremoniously and viciously stripped of great patriots who have been treated poorly and unfairly for so long,” Trump wrote on Twitter at 6:01 p.m. the. “Go home with love and peace. Remember this day forever!”

Read more: What Trump knew: How the January 6 committee is building a case against a former president

In the week following the court-authorized search of his club Mar-a-Lago on August 8 to recover classified documents, Trump decried the move as politically motivated and strongly suggested it represented something bigger. and darker in the work of the federal government. government. “It’s important for you to know that it wasn’t just my home that was violated – it was the home of all American patriots,” he wrote in a fundraising email to his supporters. Other calls for fundraising include the often apocalyptic language used by the former president and his allies, but now largely focused on FBI research. “These are dark times for our nation,” read the subject line of an Aug. 10 email sent to supporters on behalf of Trump by his Save America PAC. “I need every red-blooded American patriot to step up during this time.”

Trump “tries to parse the language and create plausible deniability,” says David Gomez, a former FBI assistant special agent in charge of the FBI’s Seattle field office who spent 28 years investigating national security cases. including domestic extremism. “You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand what he’s doing, that he’s trying to get people to do what they did on [Jan. 6]adds Gomez. “He’s trying to get people to take his side without overtly saying, ‘Let’s do x, y and z.'”

On popular pro-Trump forums and far-right channels, Trump supporters have dissected his statements, including those he posts on his social media startup, Truth Social. In the days following the FBI raid, many of his supporters made it clear they were expecting the kind of signal from him that some thought he received through his inflammatory statements leading up to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. .

“When Trump says at a rally or other very public place, ‘Now is the time,’ now will be. Not before,” a supporter posted Aug. 9, a day after the FBI raid , on a forum that previously served as staging ground for the Jan. 6 attack. 2020 in response to Trump’s call for supporters to come to D.C. “There aren’t enough cops in DC to stop what’s happening.”

Read more: Analysts warn violent rhetoric after FBI Mar-a-Lago search is a glimpse of what’s to come

Last Thursday, three days after the FBI raid of Mar-a-Lago, a man who posted regularly on Truth Social was killed in a standoff at an FBI field office in Cincinnati, after attacking the office armed with a rifle type AR-15 and a nail gun. An account with the same name as the attacker had posted more than 374 times in the previous eight days, with numerous posts calling for action after the FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago and repeating the false fraud allegations of Trump in the 2020 election. In April, the account posted a message to Trump’s son, Donald Trump, Jr: “I’m just waiting for your dad.”

The day FBI agents searched Trump’s residence, the assailant posted, “People, this is it… This is your call to arms from me.” Leave work tomorrow as soon as the armory… opens, get everything you need to be ready for battle. The next day he called it “a direct fucking insurrection against the people who usurped our government… I will not be disarmed this time”. Trump Media & Technology Group, the parent company of Truth Social, did not respond to TIME’s request for comment.

Former national security officials and political violence experts told TIME such attacks are likely to intensify in the coming months as Trump faces a slew of ongoing investigations against him, all fueling speculation about a presidential election in 2024.

Prosecutors on Monday charged a Pennsylvania man with posting online threats against the FBI on the Gab website following the execution of the Mar-a-Lago search warrant. “I sincerely believe that if you work for the FBI, then you deserve to die,” prosecutors said. “I will slaughter you.”

Trump described the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago as a “break-in” and repeatedly implied, without evidence, that the FBI may have planted incriminating material during the search. In Monday’s interview, he was even more explicit about it, saying the FBI “could have planted anything they wanted” during the search.

Messages from supporters clearly show that they take these messages to heart. “They’re not after me, they’re after you,” one supporter wrote on a right-wing Trump forum summarizing the former president’s posts. “If the FBI continues to act in such a partisan fashion, we’ll be next.”

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Write to Vera Bergengruen at [email protected]




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