On Wednesday morning, less than 48 hours after we learned that the FBI had executed a search warrant at Donald Trump‘s for-profit resort/private home, Mar-a-Lago, Fox News reported that “FBI agents, as well as US attorney general Merrick Garland and FBI director Chris Wray, are experiencing an uptick in death threats in the wake of the raid at former president Trump’s at Mar-a-Lago in Florida, according to sources speaking with Fox News.” Obviously, these threats are an extremely disturbing development. But are they at all surprising? In fact, not in the slightest, given the lengths of Trump’s allies—including, naturally, Fox News itself—have gone to convince the ex-president’s supporters that the government is not only out to get him but them.
Over on the cable news network, for instance, hosts and guests have spent the past two days describing the raid as a “partisan witch hunt,” “Third World bullshit,” an “abomination,” and a “dark day for our republic. ” Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon claimed the FBI “right now, is the gestapo,” ie the secret police of Nazi Germany. radio host Buck Sexton awning Jesse Watters that the search “almost feels like a preemptive coup” to stop Trump from running again, adding that “this is undermining our faith, not only in the peaceful transition of power, but in the executive arm of the government under an opposition party not to act like the Stasi, not to act like the secret police that we’ve seen in totalitarian regimes.” Watters, seemingly fantasizing about what he wanted to see happen, said himself on Monday: “I think there is going to be some more action you are going to see out on the streets from the base after they see this break tonight. There are a lot of honest Americans that’ve had it with what this corrupt government and what the FBI has done.” Meanwhile, over on Fox News’ website, details about the judge who reportedly signed off on the warrant—and would undoubtedly have been presented with credible evidence of a crime before doing so—were published. According to Vice News, online threats about the judge have included comments on social media like “This is the piece of shit judge who approved FBI’s raid on Mar-a-Lago. I see a rope around his neck.”
As my colleague Eric Lutz notes, it hasn’t just been Fox News that’s worked overtime to fan the flames, and by fan the flames we mean pour out the gasoline and light the match, but much of the Republican Party, including the House minority leader Kevin McCarthy, senator Rick Scott, and Representative Majorie Taylor Greene. On Tuesday and Wednesday, apparently having received their marching orders from the president, more than one of Trump’s allies baselessly claimed the FBI might have framed him.
And of course, few people have done as much to work Trump’s supporters into a worrisome frenzy than Senator Marco Rubio. After suggesting on Monday that Joe Biden was using his power to “persecute” Trump, Rubio took to Twitter on Wednesday to argue that anyone calling the right out for its obviously dangerous rhetoric is “laying the groundwork to criminalize opposition.” Also, in an unintentional bit of comedy, Rubio claimed that the FBI’s attempt to enforce the law is worse than anything our foreign enemies are doing. Which is probably giving Vladimir Putin a good tonight laugh.