The last time, following the search of the former president’s resort/club/residence at Mar a Lago, he had Lindsey Graham making his threats for him: “And I’ll say this. If there is a prosecution of Donald Trump for mishandling classified information after the Clinton debacle … there will be riots in the street,” Graham said during an appearance on a Fox News show on August 28.
This time, Trump isn’t deputizing others to do his dirty work for him. Appearing on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show – yes, the smiling face of the so-called reasonable right has a show, as well as a column in the Washington Post – Trump made a double threat of what would happen if he is indicted by the DOJ. He began this way: “If a thing like that happened, I would have no prohibition against running,” Trump told Lapdog Hewitt, clearly threatening to run for president even if under indictment.
But he saved his best threat for last: “I think if it happened, I think you’d have problems in this country the likes of which perhaps we’ve never seen before. I don’t think the people of the United States would stand for it.” Asked by Hewitt what he meant by “problems,” Trump doubled down. “I think they’d have big problems. Big problems. I just don’t think they’d stand for it. They will not sit still and stand for this ultimate of hoaxes,” Trump said, making an obvious reference to his followers.
Hewitt then asked Trump how he would deal with the “legacy media” when they inevitably accuse him of inciting violence. “That’s not inciting. I’m just saying what my opinion is,” Trump answered, perhaps having been warned by his lawyers to watch his words. “I don’t think the people of this country would stand for it.”
Okay, it doesn’t meet the legal definition of incitement of violence, but Trump was obviously calling out to his supporters using the pronoun “they,” as he goaded them to “not sit still and stand for this ultimate of hoaxes.” His prediction of “big problems…big problems” was reminiscent of Trump goading his followers to come to Washington D.C. on Jan. 6 because it will “be wild!”
The words are deliberately indistinct, parsed in Trumpian fashion to get around any potential future charge of inciting a riot, but the MAGA hordes know exactly what he’s talking about. He’s telling them if the DOJ indicts him, they should take to the streets and not only “be wild” but do things that will cause “big problems,” as if the problem of the assault on the Capitol wasn’t “big” enough.
They are armed, folks, Trump’s followers are, with high-powered assault rifles and high-capacity magazines and plenty of ammunition. Forbes magazine in 2021 quoted the National Sports Shooting Foundation, an industry trade group that refers to assault rifles as “modern sporting rifles,” as estimating that there were about 20 million of them in the country in 2018.
“About 22.8 million firearms were sold nationwide in 2020, a record-breaking figure,” Forbes reported. “There were about 393 million guns in U.S. civilians’ hands in 2018, about 120 guns for every 100 people, according to a study by the Swiss-based Small Arms Survey. NSSF places the number even higher, at 434 million in 2020.”
Those figures are four years and two years old, respectively. But if we just take the number of assault rifles estimated in 2018, 20 million, and ignore the obvious fact that the number has doubtlessly increased significantly since then, the fact is that civilians in the U.S. are walking around with at least 10 times the number of such weapons that are in the armies of Ukraine and Russia combined. Those armies, and our army, have trained their soldiers to handle their weapons safely and fire them accurately. However, the average American civilian has had zero training in the use of the high-powered weapons because our laws don’t require such training.
There are more than 20 million assault rifles out there, not to mention semiautomatic pistols and other kinds of “sporting rifles,” as the firearms trade group absurdly calls them, and we have to assume that a lot of them are owned by the hordes of “conservative” supporters of Donald Trump.
These are the people who listened to Trump as he was ginning up his followers to attack the Capitol back in December of 2020, and they are the people Trump is addressing right now as he all-but comes right out and says they should prepare themselves to cause “big problems” if or when he is eventually indicted for committing crimes in the multiple investigations he is facing.
The last time this happened, we and the FBI and the Capitol Police and the Pentagon and every other law enforcement authority in the country just sat back and said to ourselves, oh, that’s just Trump shooting his mouth off. Nothing to see here.
And then the people who listened to what he was really saying attacked the United States Capitol, injuring some 140 police officers and directly or indirectly causing the death of 10 people.
They are listening this time, too, and some of them, as I’ve written previously in this column, are out there wearing ridiculous uniforms and face masks and they have been training themselves for the next time Trump calls them out.
He is preparing the ground for his armed followers to take to the streets if the DOJ or any other law enforcement authority indicts him for committing the multiple crimes he has been accused of.
It’s time we take him at his word, and it’s time the FBI and the DOJ and Homeland Security and the Pentagon started preparing for what’s coming.
Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.
Reprinted with permission from Lucian Truscott Newsletter
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