East County News Service
Rep. Duncan Hunter defends Trump's remarks
August 10, 2016 (Washington D.C.) – Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is drawing fire for remarks that many believe were intended to incite gun owners to shoot Hillary Clinton, his rival, and potentially, justices she may appoint to the Supreme Court if elected. Trump’s campaign has said he only meant to encourage political action, not violence.
At a rally yesterday in North Carolina, he stated that Clinton wants to “abolish the Second Amendment” right to bear arms (though Clinton has never said this). Trump then appeared to incite assassination, stating,” By the way, and if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.” View video: https://youtu.be/3sSUpKqMScw
Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign and Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said Trump’s statement was “repulsive — literally using the Second Amendment as cover to encourage people to kill someone with whom they disagree,” the Los Angeles Times reports.
Bernice A. King, daughter of murdered civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., called Trump’s remarks “distasteful, disturbing, dangerous.”
Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook swiftly sent out this statement after a barrage of criticism. “This is simple — what Trump is saying is dangerous. A person seeking to be the president of the United States should not suggest violence in any way.”
Clinton super PAC Priorities USA went even further. ”Donald Trump Just Suggested That Someone Shoot Hillary Clinton,” the group’s spokesman Justin Barasky wrote in an email to media. “THIS IS NOT OK.”
Trump spokesman Jason Miller tried to downplay the inflammatory remarks, claiming Trump was merely urging gun owners to support his campaign – not take aim literally. “It’s called the power of unification — 2nd Amendment people have amazing spirit and are tremendously unified, which gives them great political power,” he stated, CNN reports.
But former National Security Administration director Michael Hayden observed, “You’re not just responsible for what you say, you are responsible for what people hear.”
Many people believed they heard Trump call for gun owners to kill Clinton, the Democratic nominee—and fear that some mentally unstable followers of Trump could take his seeming call to arms seriously.
Rep. Eric Swallwell, a California Democrat, called on Twitter for the Secret Service to investigate, Politico reports. “Donald Trump suggested someone kill Sec. Clinton. We must take people at their word. @SecretService must investigate #TrumpThreat,” he wrote.
The Secret Service has issued a statement that it is aware of the threat, but has not clarified whether it has discussed concerns with Trump. The Secret Service is providing protection to both Clinton and Trump on the campaign trail. It is a federal crime to threaten anyone under Secret Service protection. A veiled incitement to others to commit violence against a presidential candidate may not meet the legal standard as a crime—though it could potentially result in a crime occurring if anyone took action based on Trump’s inflammatory words.
The comments, at the very least, showed a shocking disregard for the safety of Hillary Clinton and the lives of future judicial candidates.
But National Rifle Association spokeswoman Jennifer Baker called the uproar over Trump’s remarks a “distraction created by the dishonest media,” according to the Guardian newspaper.
Republican House Speaker said perhaps Trump was joking, but added pointedly, “You should never joke about something like that.”
One defender who has emerged is Rep. Duncan Hunter, who represents much of East County. In a CNN interview, Hunter said "He can be inarticulate at times" and noted Trump is a businessman, not a politician. However Hunter indicated he did not believe Trump meant his words as a call for violence.