Along with this warning comes Trumpâs call for supporters to act as âpoll watchersâ to prevent imaginary fraud at voting locations. âWatch it,â he said last week during a rally in North Carolina. âBe poll watchers when you go there. Watch all the thieving and stealing and robbing they do.â He added that after they vote, his supporters should âmake sure it countsâ because the âonly wayâ Democrats can win is by âdoing very bad things.â
Thereâs also the presidentâs rhetoric toward his political opponents. Asked on Fox News about âriotsâ if he wins re-election, Trump said he would âput them down very quickly,â before adding:
Look, itâs called insurrection. We just send in and we do it, very easy. I mean, itâs very easy. Iâd rather not do that because thereâs no reason for it, but if we had to weâd do that and put it down within minutes.
Later in the interview, Trump commented on the Sept. 3 killing of Michael Forest Reinoehl by U.S. marshals. Reinoehl was suspected of shooting a member of the far-right group Patriot Prayer during a protest in Portland, Ore., on Aug. 29. Trump, who swore to uphold the Constitution when he was inaugurated, claimed to have essentially called for an extrajudicial killing:
Now we sent in the U.S. marshals for the killer, the man that killed the young man in the street. Two and a half days went by, and I put out âwhen are you going to go get him.â And the U.S. marshals went in to get him. There was a shootout. This guy was a violent criminal, and the U.S. marshalls killed him. And Iâll tell you something â thatâs the way it has to be. There has to be retribution.
Instead of making a conventional appeal to voters to give him another term in office, Trump is issuing a threat, of sorts: I cannot lose. If I do lose, the election was stolen. Anyone protesting my effort to hold onto power is an insurrectionist. And sometimes, âthere has to be retribution.â
You can dismiss Trumpâs statements as mere ranting and raving, but remember: This is a president who makes policy with his ranting and raving. And his allies, both in and out of government, have gotten the message. Asked in an interview with Alex Jones, the far-right conspiracy theorist, what Trump should do against Democrats who âthink they can stealâ the election, Roger Stone â a close confidant of the president whose 40-month prison sentence for witness tampering and lying to Congress was commuted by Trump earlier this year â said that âthe ballots in Nevada on election night should be seized by federal marshals and taken from the stateâ because âthey are completely corrupted.â He also urged the president to declare âmartial lawâ and invoke the Insurrection Act to arrest political opponents.