Is suggesting that Second Amendment advocates assassinate Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton enough for Republicans to finally renounce their endorsements of Donald Trump? You already know the answer.
This week, Donald Trump went where no presidential nominee has gone before. At a campaign stop in Wilmington, North Carolina, Trump suggested that Hillary Clinton should be assassinated to stop her from appointing liberal Supreme Court justices.
Donald Trump on Tuesday warned his supporters that if Hillary Clinton is elected president and appoints judges to the Supreme Court, there is nothing anyone can do about it. But then he added that, given the Second Amendment, maybe there is.
“If she gets to pick her judges ― nothing you can do, folks,” Trump said with a shrug at a rally in Wilmington, North Carolina. “Although, the Second Amendment people. Maybe there is. I don’t know.”
If anyone else said that, they’d have the Secret Service knocking on their door. (And apparently, the Secret Service did talk to Trump about it, more than once.) But everybody should just calm down, because Trump was only joking. His comments were misconstrued. The real jokes are the various explanations Trump surrogates have been floating in desperate attempts to contain the damage, while their candidate douses his dumpster fire of a campaign with gasoline.
● In an interview on “Good Morning America,” former New York City mayor and Trump surrogate Rudy Giuliani said that Trump’s supporters would have cheered louder if he’d really alluded to Hillary Clinton’s possible assassination. “With a crowd like that, if that’s what they thought he meant, they would’ve gone wild,” Giuliani said.
● CNN host Chris Cuomo reduced Giuliani to a stuttering, stammering mess as he challenged Giuliani’s defense of Trump’s statements.
● Former Trump campaign manager turned CNN commentator Corey Lewandowski flamed out when asked to explain Trump’s remarks. “I don’t know what he meant,” Lewandowski told CNN host Chris Cuomo.
● Trump spokesperson Katrina Pierson claimed Trump was talking about gun control, not threatening Hillary Clinton. “He was talking about Hillary Clinton and gun control … Hillary Clinton is a gun grabber,” Pierson told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “Mr Trump was clearly pointing that out as he does every day on the campaign trail.” Pierson’s logic-free defense of Trump also left MSNBC host Kate Snow speechless.
● Trump communications advisor Jason Miller said Trump’s remarks were “American voters who are passionate about their Second Amendment rights … to use that power at the ballot box.”
● Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) claimed Trump’s remarks were merely a play on words. “What he meant was we can stop Hillary Clinton from being elected,” he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.
● Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) defended Trump, saying that he was merely issuing a call for gun toters to become voters.
● House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters that Trump’s remarks sounded “like a joke gone bad.” Ryan doubled back and added, “You should never joke about that. I hope he clears it up quickly.” Ryan won his primary against a Trump-esque challenger, despite Trump withholding his endorsement until the 11th hour, but has not abandoned his support for Trump.
● A Trump supporter from Michigan called C-SPAN to explain that Trump was predicting armed revolt, not calling for assassination.
● Televangelist Pat Robertson defended Trump, saying that “the devil” inspires liberals to lie about Donald Trump (and him).
The truth is, Trump’s not saying anything new. The right-wing has long been shooting down political discourse with thinly veiled threats of violence under the euphemism, “Second Amendment Solutions.” His violence rhetoric just brings to the surface what’s been festering in the GOP for decades.
But this joke isn’t funny anymore. Trump’s schtick is getting repetitive. And coming from a guy who regularly incites political violence, it’s not just tiresome. It’s dangerous. Trump may say he’s just joking, but what do his supporters hear? They hear the same implicit threat and justification of political violence that Republicans have been using for years, to suggest they may impose with bullets what they failed to win with ballots.
Here’s the best of the rest of the worst in wingnuttia this week:
● Trump also called President Obama and Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton the “founders of ISIS.” He doubled down on his claim in an interview with conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt.
● Rudy Giuliani agreed with Trump’s assessment, telling CNN’s “News Day” that Trump’s comment was “legitimate political commentary.”
● Trump later tried to walk back his rhetoric about Clinton, Obama and ISIS, by claiming it was “sarcasm.”
● Veterans’ affairs advisor Al Baldasaro — who last month called for Hillary Clinton’s execution by firing squad — is still on Trump’s payroll.
● Trump told the Miami Herald that it “would be fine” for military tribunals at the infamous Guantanamo Bay to prosecute U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism.
● Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence got softened up by an 11-year-old who grilled him on whether he was just “softening up” Trump’s policies. That’s right, the GOP’s veep nominee lost an debate with an 11-year-old.
● According to recently released court documents in the “Bridgegate” scandal, one of New Jersey governor Chris Christie’s aides texted another that Christie “flat out lied” about senior staff not being involved, at a December 2013 press conference.
● Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said in an interview with Politico that he opposes abortions for women infected with the Zika virus.
● Trump surrogate Scottie Nell Hughes argued that pregnant women who contract the Zika virus should be banned from having abortions, because birth defects are “nothing new.”
● Four female Fox News co-hosts dropped their talking points and let Fox Business contributor Bernard McGuirk have it when he called Donald Trump “the ultimate feminist.”
● The Fox News sexual harassment scandal keeps growing, despite chairman Roger Ailes’ exit. The network already severed ties with five of Ailes’ longtime associates, and are rumored to be on their way out, amid reports of several Ailes’ top deputies aiding his behavior.
● New York magazine reported that Ailes used Fox News funds to run a “Black Room” operation at the network’s headquarters, where investigators and PR staff investigated and plotted against Ailes’ “enemies,” including Fox employees who sued the company.
● Fox News host Andrea Tantaros said she was taken off the air after speaking out about being harassed by Ailes. Fox News has not used Tantaros on camera since April, when she filed a harassment complaint against Ailes. The network says it suspended Tantaros for not submitting her latest book for review before publishing.
● CNN media critic Brian Stelter ripped Fox News host Sean Hannity for bolstering Donald Trump’s claims that the presidential election is “rigged.” “Hannity is not a journalist,” Stelter concluded. “But he has a megaphone and he’s using his megaphone irresponsibly.”
● Fading teen idol Scott Baio doesn’t care if he never works again after his RNC speech supporting Republican nominee Donald Trump. “I don’t care. I genuinely, in my heart, do not care if I ever work again. I don’t care.” Neither does anyone else, Scottie. Neither does anyone else.
● “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson threatened to run for president. During a teleconference at Ben Carson’s My Faith Votes event, Robertson said, “I can’t tell you how to vote, but if they keep fooling around long enough, they’re going to force me to run. If you want to see a change in America, get me in there, dude, and there will be a big change then, if you all are ready for it.”
● Robertson is also the star of a bizarre new extreme right-wing movie called “Torchbearer,” featuring ISIS beheadings.
● Friend of “the Gays,” Donald Trump addressed a summit held by the anti-LGBT organization the American Renewal Project, held in — of all places — Orlando, Florida. Founder David Lane told the Christian Broadcasting network’s Christie Jenkins how he plans to quiz Trump on how he plans to fight “homosexual totalitarianism” and the gay rights “militants.”
● Trump told the evangelist gathering that he would increase church attendance by abolishing the Johnson Amendment, which bars tax-exempt organizations from endorsing candidates. Trump joked that he needed to be elected, because repealing the Johnson Amendment is the only way he could get into heaven.
● Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) defended attending Lane’s event, and called for a debate that is “respectful of the views and the dignity of those on both sides.” Lane once claimed that God would punish America’s growing acceptance of homosexuality with “car bombs in Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and Des Moines, Iowa,” and possibly the total destruction of the country.
● Anti-LGBT activist Flip Benham lived up to his name when he flipped out during a city council meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina. Benham accused the city of “middle finger right in the eye of almighty God,” by passing a measure to protect LGBT equality earlier this year. The Charlotte law was the catalyst for the “bathroom” bill currency costing the state millions in economic activity.
● A court has decided that Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore will face trial for violating judicial ethics after he ordered state judges not to issue same-sex marriage licenses early this year.
● Missouri Republican gubernatorial candidate Eric Greitens has a new campaign ad that features him firing a high-power machine gun, and that bears an strong resemblance to an ISIS propaganda video.
● Right-wing lawyer Larry Klayman, who is currently suing President Obama for endangering his life as a white man, told Newsmax’s Steve Malzberg that President Obama is a “traitor” who would have been impeached by now if he wasn’t black.
● A judge has ruled that conservative commentator Glenn Beck must reveal the sources he used in reports alleging that Abdulrahman Alharbi funded the Boston Marathon bombing. Alharbi, who was injured in the bombing, is suing Beck for defamation. Beck is attempting to use the right-wing conspiracy theory about a murdered DNC staffer to justify not naming his sources.
● A Trump supporter called C-SPAN and admitted that World War III “might happen with him because he’s so bull-headed and headstrong,” but that’s OK because, “We’d probably win. Hopefully.”