By Robert Reich
Donald Trump recently threatened that if he is indicted on a charge of mishandling classified documents after leaving the White House, there would be “problems in this country the likes of which perhaps we’ve never seen before,” adding “I don’t think the people of the United States would stand for it.”
These words followed on last month’s threat by Senator Lindsey Graham that if Trump is prosecuted, there would be “riots in the street.” Trump appeared to endorse Graham’s threat, sharing a video link on his Truth Social platform.
Trump’s latest threat requires four responses:
1. Trump is daring the Justice Department to prosecute him, in effect asserting he is above the law. He is not above the law. The Justice Department is methodically and carefully sifting through evidence and presenting it to a grand jury.
Neither the Department nor the grand jury should be intimidated by Trump’s latest threat.
2. Trump’s rhetoric is dangerous. We have already seen the consequences of what happens when Trump invites a mob to the streets. Five people died on January 6, 2021. Many more – including members of Congress and the former Vice President – could have been killed on that day. Since the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s incendiary words have fueled death threats to numerous federal officials, judges, and lawmakers.
All Americans should condemn Trump’s latest threat and incitement to violence.
3. We are dealing with a sociopathic narcissist who wants nothing more than to divide the nation over himself. This is not a matter of left versus right, liberal versus conservative, Democrat versus Republican. It is a question of the Constitution and the rule of law versus authoritarianism and tyranny. If Trump prevails — if he intimidates law-enforcement officials from doing their jobs over his attempted coup or his theft from the White House of secret documents — we lose our democracy.
The media must stop covering this as if there are two sides to this story. There are not.
4. The time has come for Republican lawmakers, candidates, and rightwing media owners and personalities to show some backbone and vigorously repudiate Trump. Their failure to do so before now has created a monster that threatens to consume this country. It is up to them to tell their constituents, followers, readers and viewers that there is no place in America for Trump’s threats to law enforcement and his incitements to violence.
Mitch McConnell, Kevin McCarthy, Lindsey Graham, Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Rupert Murdoch, and others must say it loudly and clearly: We repudiate Trump and his threats. No person is above the law.