Donald Trump said at a rally today that “second amendment people” might be the only ones who could stop Hillary Clinton, specifically her ability to nominate Supreme Court justices:
“If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the second amendment people, maybe there is.”
The remark, referring to the constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to bear arms, was seen by many critics as an incitement to violent action. Threatening violence against presidential candidates is a federal crime. In a statement, the US Secret Service said it is “aware” of Trump’s remarks.
The statement, delivered at a campaign event in Wilmington, NC, is provocatively ambiguous. On Twitter, some said it was a suggestion of gun violence against Clinton. Others said Trump was talking about shooting Clinton’s nominated judges.
Regardless, the reference to political violence, even if it was only in jest, is unprecedented in recent US history and is likely to dominate headlines in the coming days and perhaps longer.
In a “campaign statement on dishonest media,” Trump advisor Jason Miller said: “Second Amendment people have amazing spirit and are tremendously unified, which gives them great political power.”
But it’s unclear how that would apply to a scenario where Clinton already has the ability to pick her judges, as Trump described. “Second amendment remedies” is a phrase used by some gun-rights advocates to describe violent action against a tyrannical government.
Clinton’s campaign assailed the Trump comment.
In recent days, Trump has suggested that the election outcome will be rigged, and adviser Roger Stone has forecast “civil disobedience” and a “bloodbath” by Trump supporters should he lose. Stone said he was not referring to violence but a government shutdown.
Trump critics have noted a record of the Republican nominee tossing out provocative and sometimes incendiary statements. He recently suggested that Russia hack Clinton’s computer, but when criticism arose, he said he was being “sarcastic.”