ABC News Finds 54 Cases Invoking ‘Trump’ in Connection with Violence, Threats, Alleged Assaults
(May 30, 2020) —President Donald Trump has repeatedly distanced himself from acts of violence in communities across America, dismissing critics who point to his rhetoric as a potential source of inspiration or comfort for anyone acting on even long-held beliefs of bigotry and hate.
“I think my rhetoric brings people together,” he said last year, four days after a 21-year-old allegedly posted an anti-immigrant screed online and then allegedly opened fire at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, killing 22 and injuring dozens of others.
But a nationwide review conducted by ABC News has identified at least 54 criminal cases where Trump was invoked in direct connection with violent acts, threats of violence or allegations of assault.
After a Latino gas station attendant in Gainesville, Florida, was suddenly punched in the head by a white man, the victim could be heard on surveillance camera recounting the attacker’s own words: “He said, ‘This is for Trump.'” Charges were filed but the victim stopped pursuing them.
When police questioned a Washington state man about his threats to kill a local Syrian-born man, the suspect told police he wanted the victim to “get out of my country,” adding, “That’s why I like Trump.”
Reviewing police reports and court records, ABC News found that in at least 12 cases perpetrators hailed Trump in the midst or immediate aftermath of physically assaulting innocent victims. In another 18 cases, perpetrators cheered or defended Trump while taunting or threatening others. And in another 10 cases, Trump and his rhetoric were cited in court to explain a defendant’s violent or threatening behavior.
When three Kansas men were on trial for plotting to bomb a largely-Muslim apartment complex in Garden City, Kansas, one of their lawyers told the jury that the men “were concerned about what now-President Trump had to say about the concept of Islamic terrorism.” Another lawyer insisted Trump had become “the voice of a lost and ignored white, working-class set of voters,” and Trump’s rhetoric meant someone “who would often be at a 7 during a normal day, might ‘go to 11.'”
Thirteen cases identified by ABC News involved violent or threatening acts perpetrated in defiance of Trump, with many of them targeting Trump’s allies in Congress. But the vast majority of the cases — 41 of the 54 — reflect someone echoing presidential rhetoric, not protesting it.
ABC News could not find a single criminal case filed in federal or state court where an act of violence or threat was made in the name of President Barack Obama or President George W. Bush.
The 54 cases identified by ABC News are remarkable in that a link to the president is captured in court documents and police statements, under the penalty of perjury or contempt. These links are not speculative — they are documented in official records. And in the majority of cases identified by ABC News, it was perpetrators themselves who invoked the president in connection with their case, not anyone else.
The perpetrators and suspects identified in the 54 cases are mostly white men — as young as teenagers and as old as 75 — while the victims largely represent an array of minority groups — African-Americans, Latinos, Muslims and gay men.
Federal law enforcement authorities have privately told ABC News they worry that — although Trump has offered public denunciations of violence — his statements have been inconsistent and Trump’s style could inspire violence-prone individuals to take action against minorities or others they perceive to be against the president’s agenda.
“Any public figure could have the effect of inspiring people,” FBI Director Chris Wray told a Senate panel last year. “But remember that the people who commit hate fueled violence are not logical, rational people.”
While asserting that “fake” media coverage is exacerbating divisions in the country, Trump has noted that “a fan” of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders opened fire on Republican lawmakers playing baseball in a Washington suburb two years ago. “Nobody puts … ‘Bernie Sanders’ in the headline with the maniac,” Trump said last year.
And, last year, Trump similarly insisted that the man who fatally shot nine people in Dayton, Ohio, three days earlier “supported” Sanders and other liberal causes.
But there’s no indication either of those shooters mentioned Sanders while launching their attacks, and no charges were ever filed because they were both fatally shot during their assaults.
In addition, a president inhabits a unique position in America, with access to a special bully pulpit. On Twitter, Trump currently has 80.7 million followers — nearly seven times the number of Sanders followers.
In identifying the 54 Trump-related cases, ABC News excluded incidents of vandalism. ABC News also excluded many cases of violence — from attacks on anti-Trump protesters at Trump rallies to certain assaults on people wearing “Make America Great Again” hats — that did not establish explicit ties to Trump in court records or police reports.
Similarly, being a documented Trump supporter who committed an assault, even at a Trump-related location, would not be enough to be included if official records did not document a specific connection to Trump.
ABC News found several cases where pro-Trump defendants were charged with targeting minorities, or where speculation online suggested the defendants were motivated by Trump, but in those cases ABC News found no police records, court proceedings or other direct evidence presenting a definitive link to the president.
In many cases of assault or threat, charges are never filed, perpetrators are never identified or the incident is never even reported to authorities. And most criminal acts committed by Trump supporters or his detractors have nothing to do with the president. But in 54 cases, court records and police reports indicated some sort of link.
Nevertheless, Trump has said he deserves “no blame” for what he called the “hatred” seemingly coursing through parts of the country. And he told reporters that he’s “committed to doing everything” in his power to not let political violence “take root in America.”
The White House did not respond to a request seeking comment for this report.
Here Are the 54 Cases Identified by ABC News:
Aug. 19, 2015: In Boston, after he and his brother beat a sleeping homeless man of Mexican descent with a metal pole, Steven Leader, 30, told police “Donald Trump was right, all these illegals need to be deported.” The victim, however, was not in the United States illegally. The brothers, who are white, ultimately pleaded guilty to several assault-related charges and were each sentenced to at least two years in prison.
Dec. 5, 2015: After Penn State University student Nicholas Tavella, 19, was charged with “ethnic intimidation” and other crimes for threatening to “put a bullet” in a young Indian man on campus, his attorney argued in court that Tavella was just motivated by “a love of country,” not “hate.” “Donald Trump is running for President of the United States saying that, ‘We’ve got to check people out more closely,'” Tavella’s attorney argued in his defense. Tavella, who is white, ultimately pleaded guilty to ethnic intimidation and was sentenced to up to two years in prison.
One of four IEDs recovered by law enforcement at the home of John Roos in April 2016. (U.S. Department of Justice)
April 28, 2016: When FBI agents arrested 61-year-old John Martin Roos in White City, Oregon, for threatening federal officials, including then-President Barack Obama, they found several pipe bombs and guns in his home. In the three months before his arrest, Roos posted at least 34 messages to Twitter about Trump, repeatedly threatening African Americans, Muslims, Mexican immigrants and the “liberal media,” and in court documents, prosecutors noted that the avowed Trump supporter posted this threatening message to Facebook a month earlier: “The establishment is trying to steal the election from Trump. … Obama is already on a kill list … Your [name] can be there too.”
Roos, who is white, has since pleaded guilty to possessing an unregistered explosive device and posting Internet threats against federal officials. He was sentenced to more than five years in prison.
June 3, 2016: After 54-year-old Henry Slapnik attacked his African-American neighbors with a knife in Cleveland, he told police “Donald Trump will fix them because they are scared of Donald Trump,” according to police reports. Slapnik, who is white, ultimately pleaded guilty to “ethnic intimidation” and other charges. It’s unclear what sentence he received.
Aug. 16, 2016: In Olympia, Washington, 32-year-old Daniel Rowe attacked a white woman and a black man with a knife after seeing them kiss on a popular street. When police arrived on the scene, Rowe professed to being “a white supremacist” and said “he planned on heading down to the next Donald Trump rally and stomping out more of the Black Lives Matter group,” according to court documents filed in the case. Rowe, who is white, ultimately pleaded guilty to charges of assault and malicious harassment, and he was sentenced to more than four years in prison.
Henry Slapnik in an undated police photo. (Cleveland Police Department)
Sept. 1, 2016: The then-chief of the Bordentown, New Jersey, police department, Frank Nucera, allegedly assaulted an African American teenager who was handcuffed. Federal prosecutors said the attack was part of Nucera’s “intense racial animus,” noting in federal court that “within hours” of the assault, Nucera was secretly recorded saying “Donald Trump is the last hope for white people.”
The 60-year-old Nucera, who is white, was indicted by a federal grand jury on three charges, including committing a federal hate crime and lying to the FBI about the alleged assault. He was convicted of lying to the FBI, but a jury deadlocked on the other charges, so Nucera is now awaiting a second trial. He has pleaded not guilty.
September 2016: After 40-year-old Mark Feigin of Los Angeles was arrested for posting anti-Muslim and allegedly threatening statements to a mosque’s Facebook page, his attorney argued in court that the comments were protected by the First Amendment because Feigin was “using similar language and expressing similar views” to “campaign statements from then-candidate Donald Trump.”
Noting that his client “supported Donald Trump,” attorney Caleb Mason added that “Mr. Feigin’s comments were directed toward a pressing issue of public concern that was a central theme of the Trump campaign and the 2016 election generally: the Islamic roots of many international and U.S. terrorist acts.” Feigin, who is white, ultimately pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of sending harassing communications electronically. He was sentenced to probation.
Oct. 10, 2016: Police in Albany, New York, arrested 55-year-old Todd Warnken for threatening an African-American woman at a local grocery store “because of her race,” according to a police report. Warnken allegedly told the victim, “Trump is going to win, and if you don’t like it I’m gonna beat your ass you n—-r,” the police report said. He ultimately pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge in the case and completed a local “restorative justice program,” allowing the charges against him to be dismissed, according to the district attorney’s office.
Oct. 13, 2016: After the FBI arrested three white Kansas men for plotting to bomb an apartment complex in Garden City, Kansas, where many Somali immigrants lived, one of the men’s attorneys insisted to a federal judge that the plot was “self-defensive” because the three men believed “that if Donald Trump won the election, President Obama would not recognize the validity of those results, that he would declare martial law, and that at that point militias all over the country would have to step in.”
Then, after a federal grand jury convicted 47-year-old Patrick Stein and the two other men of conspiracy-related charges, Stein’s attorney argued for a lighter sentence based on “the backdrop” of Stein’s actions: Trump had become “the voice of a lost and ignored white, working-class set of voters” like Stein, and the “climate” at the time could propel someone like Stein to “go to 11,” attorney Jim Pratt said in court. Stein and his two accomplices were each sentenced to at least 25 years in prison.
Nov. 3, 2016: In Tampa, Florida, David Howard threatened to burn down the house next to his “simply because” it was being purchased by a Muslim family, according to the Justice Department. He later said under oath that while he harbored a years-long dislike for Muslims, the circumstances around the home sale were “the match that lit the wick.”
He cited Trump’s warnings about immigrants from majority-Muslim countries. “[With] the fact that the president wants these six countries vetted, everybody vetted before they come over, there’s a concern about Muslims,” Howard said. Howard, who is white, ultimately pleaded guilty to a federal civil rights violation, and the 59-year-old was sentenced to eight months in prison.
A surveillance camera at a store in Gainesville, Fla., captures what police described as an unprovoked attack on a Hispanic man cleaning the store’s parking lot. Nov. 10, 2016. (Gainesville Police Department)More
Nov. 10, 2016: A 23-year-old man from High Springs, Florida, allegedly assaulted an unsuspecting Hispanic man who was cleaning a parking lot outside of a local food store. “[H]e was suddenly struck in the back of the head,” a police report said of the victim. “[The victim] asked the suspect why he hit him, to which the suspect replied, ‘This is for Donald Trump.’ The suspect then grabbed [the victim] by the jacket and proceeded to strike him several more times,” according to the report.
Surveillance video of the incident “completely corroborated [the victim’s] account of events,” police said. The suspect was arrested on battery charges, but the case was dropped after the victim decided not to pursue the matter, police said. Efforts by ABC News to reach the victim for further explanation were not successful.
Nov. 12, 2016: In Grand Rapids, Michigan, while attacking a cab driver from East Africa, 23-year-old Jacob Holtzlander shouted racial epithets and repeatedly yelled the word, “Trump,” according to law enforcement records. Holtzlander, who is white, ultimately pleaded guilty to a charge of ethnic intimidation, and he was sentenced to 30 days in jail.
Nov. 16, 2016: Police in San Antonio, Texas, arrested 32-year-old Dusty Paul Lacombe after he and a companion assaulted a black man at a convenience store. According to a police report, Lacombe “stepped out of a vehicle and walked to the [victim] and stated he was a Trump supporter and swung at him several times.” The victim “was punched in the face several times,” the police report said.
When police arrived, Lacombe — who “smelled strongly of alcohol” — “stated something about Trump and admitted to fighting with [the victim],” the police report noted. Lacombe was charged with misdemeanor assault and ultimately received “deferred adjudication,” which is akin to probation. Lacombe ultimately pleaded “no contest” to the charge and was granted “deferred adjudication” with a $450 fine.
Jan. 3, 2017: In Chicago, four young African-Americans — sisters Brittany and Tanishia Covington, Jordan Hill and Tesfaye Cooper — tied up a white, mentally disabled man and assaulted him, forcing him to recite the phrases “F–k Donald Trump” and “F–k white people” while they broadcast the attack online. Each of them ultimately pleaded guilty to committing a hate crime and other charges, and three of them were sentenced to several years in prison.
Jan. 25, 2017: At JFK International Airport in New York, a female Delta employee, wearing a hijab in accordance with her Muslim faith, was “physically and verbally” attacked by 57-year-old Robin Rhodes of Worcester, Mass., “for no apparent reason,” prosecutors said at the time. When the victim asked Brown what she did to him, he replied: “You did nothing, but … [Expletive] Islam. [Expletive] ISIS. Trump is here now. He will get rid of all of you.” Rhodes ultimately pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of “menacing,” and he was sentenced to probation.
Feb. 19, 2017: After 35-year-old Gerald Wallace called a mosque in Miami Gardens, Florida, and threatened to “shoot all y’all,” he told the FBI and police that he made the call because he “got angry” from a local TV news report about a terrorist act. At a rally in Florida the day before, Trump falsely claimed that Muslim refugees had just launched a terrorist attack in Sweden.
Wallace’s attorney, Katie Carmon, later tried to convince a federal judge that the threat to kill worshippers could be “protected speech” due to the “very distinctly political climate” at the time. “There are courts considering President Trump’s travel ban … and the president himself has made some very pointed statements about what he thinks about people of this descent,” Carmon argued in court.
Wallace, who is African American, ultimately pleaded guilty to obstructing the free exercise of his victims’ religious beliefs, and he was sentenced to one year in prison.
Feb. 23, 2017: Kevin Seymour and his partner Kevin price were riding their bicycles in Key West, Florida, when a man on a moped, 30-year-old Brandon Davis of North Carolina, hurled anti-gay slurs at them and “intentionally” ran into Seymour’s bike, shouting, “You live in Trump country now,” according to police reports and Davis’ attorney. Davis ultimately pleaded guilty to a charge of battery evidencing prejudice, but in court, he expressed remorse and was sentenced to four years of probation.
May 3, 2017: In South Padre Island, Texas, 35-year-old Alexander Jennes Downing of Waterford, Connecticut, was captured on cellphone video taunting and aggressively approaching a Muslim family, repeatedly shouting, “Donald Trump will stop you!” and other Trump-related remarks. Police arrested downing, of Waterford, Connecticut, for public intoxication. It’s unclear what came of the charge.
May 11, 2017: Authorities arrested Steven Martan of Tucson, Arizona, after he left three threatening messages at the office Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz. In one message, he told McSally he was going to “blow your brains out,” and in another he told her that her “days are numbered.” He later told FBI agents “that he was venting frustrations with Congresswoman McSally’s congressional votes in support of the President of the United States,” according to charging documents.
Martan’s attorney, Walter Goncalves Jr., later told a judge that Martan had “an alcohol problem” and left the messages “after becoming intoxicated” and “greatly upset” by news that McSally “agreed with decisions by President Donald Trump.” Martan, 58, has since pleaded guilty to three counts of retaliating against a federal official and was sentenced to more than one year in prison.
May 23, 2017: George Jarjour and his brother, Sam Jarjour, were getting gas at a station in Bellevue, Washington, when 56-year-old Kenneth Sjarpe started yelling at them to “go back to your country,” according to a police report. Sjarpe then drove his truck toward the brothers, rolled down his window, and declared, “F–k you, you Muslims,” and “I’ll f—ing kill you,” the police report stated.
When police officers interviewed Sjarpe the next day, according to the report, he “became animated and his voice got louder as he started talking about how he hated those people… [particularly] Iranians, Indians and Middle Easterners.” And, the report recounted, “He said he supports Trump in keeping them out.” A week later, Sjarpe threatened another man at a local business, yelling, “I hate foreigners,” according to a police report. He was arrested days later. Sjarpe ultimately pleaded guilty to one count of malicious harassment and was sentenced to six months behind bars.
Oct. 22, 2017: A 44-year-old California man threatened to kill Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., for her frequent criticism of Trump and her promise to “take out” the president. Anthony Scott Lloyd left a voicemail at the congresswoman’s Washington office, declaring: “If you continue to make threats towards the president, you’re going to wind up dead, Maxine. Cause we’ll kill you.”
After pleading guilty to one count of threatening a U.S. official, Lloyd asked the judge for leniency, saying he suffered from addiction-inducing mental illness and became “far too immersed in listening to polarizing political commentators and engaging in heated political debates online.” His lawyer put it this way to the judge: “Mr. Lloyd was a voracious consumer of political news online, on television and on radio … [that are] commonly viewed as ‘right wing,’ unconditionally supportive of President Trump, and fiercely critical of anyone who opposed President Trump’s policies.” The judge sentenced Lloyd to six months of house arrest and three years of probation.
President Donald J. Trump stops to talk to reporters and members of the media as he walks to Marine One to depart from the South Lawn at the White House on Wednesday, Aug 07, 2019 in Washington. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)More
Feb. 21, 2018: A federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., indicted a former U.S. diplomat — William Patrick Syring, 60, of Arlington, Virginia — on several counts for threatening employees of the Arab American Institute. He had previously served nearly a year in prison for threats he made in emails and voicemails to the same organization in 2006, but soon after serving his time he began emailing the organization again.
In January 2017, a week after Trump was inaugurated, Syring sent one email saying: “It’s time for ethnic cleansing of Arabs in America. Elections have consequences. President Trump will cleanse America of [AAI President James] Zogby … and all Arab American terrorists.” Within months, he began sending particularly “charged” rhetoric that constituted “a true threat” — and emails like the one from January 2017 reflect the type of language that was “part and parcel of” his threats, prosecutors said in court documents.
In May 2019, a federal jury convicted Syring on all 14 counts against him, including seven hate-crime charges and seven interstate-threat charges. He was sentenced to five years in prison.
March 1, 2018: The FBI arrested 24-year-old Daniel Frisiello of Beverly, Massachusetts, for sending envelopes with white powder to at least five politically-charged locations around the country. One of those envelopes was addressed to “Donald Trump Jr.” in New York, and it included a typed letter stating, “You are an awful, awful person, I am surprised that your father lets you speak on TV.” Trump Jr.’s then-wife received and then opened the letter.
The FBI ultimately determined Frisiello was responsible for a rash of threatening letters sent to various public servants since 2015. In 2016, Frisiello sent white powder to Trump’s family in what federal authorities called “a bid to persuade [Trump] to drop out of the presidential race.”
Frisiello then sent white powder to Trump Jr. in early 2018 “because of the victim’s connection with his father,” federal authorities said. Frisiello ultimately pleaded guilty to 13 federal counts of mailing a threat. He was sentenced to five years’ probation, including one year of home confinement, after even prosecutors acknowledged there were “unique circumstances concerning Mr. Frisiello’s mental and emotional conditions,” as they said in court documents.
April 6, 2018: The FBI arrested 38-year-old Christopher Michael McGowan of Roanoke, Virginia, for allegedly posting a series of Twitter threats against Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., over several months. In one posting in December 2017, McGowan wrote to Goodlatte: “I threatened to kill you if you help Trump violate the constitution,” according to charging documents. In another alleged post, the self-described Army veteran wrote: “If Trump tries to fire [special counsel Robert] Mueller I WILL make an attempt to execute a citizens arrest against [Goodlatte] and I will kill him if he resist.”
In subsequent statements to police, he said he drinks too much, was “hoping to get someone’s attention over his concerns about the current status of our country,” and did not actually intend to harm Goodlatte, court documents recount. A federal grand jury has indicted McGowan on one count of transmitting a threat over state lines, and it’s unclear if he has entered a plea as he awaits trial.
June 8, 2018: Federal authorities arrested Nicholas Bukoski of Anne Arundel County, Maryland, for threatening to kill Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California. “You wouldn’t want to be caught off guard when I use my second amendment protected firearms to rid the world of you,” Bukowski wrote to Sanders via Instagram on March, 24, 2018. Two minutes later, he wrote to Harris saying he will “make sure you and your radical lefty friends never get back in power … because you won’t make it to see that day.”
At a mental treatment facility shortly after his arrest, he said, “He was watching the news and social media, which made him want to send the threats. He stated that he was frustrated with liberals and he is very supportive of the current president,” court documents signed by Bukoski recount.
Other court documents describe Bukoski’s criminal past unrelated to politics, including a series of arsons he committed in 2017 and early 2018 and an armed robbery he committed in January 2018. In the most recent case involving threats to lawmakers, he ultimately pleaded guilty to one count of transmitting interstate threats and was sentenced to six months in prison.
July 6, 2018: Martin Astrof, 75, approached a volunteer at the campaign office of Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., in Suffolk County, New York, and “state[d] he was going to kill supporters of U.S. congressman Lee Zeldin and President Donald Trump,” according to charging documents. Astrof was arrested and ultimately pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment. He was sentenced to one year of probation.
August 2018: After the Boston Globe called on news outlets around the country to resist what it called “Trump’s assault on journalism,” the Boston Globe received more than a dozen threatening phone calls. “You are the enemy of the people,” the alleged caller, 68-year-old Robert Chain of Encino, California, told a Boston Globe employee on Aug. 22. “As long as you keep attacking the President, the duly elected President of the United States … I will continue to threat[en], harass, and annoy the Boston Globe.”
A week later, authorities arrested Chain on threat-related charges. After a hearing in his case, he told reporters, “America was saved when Donald J. Trump was elected president.” Chain has pleaded guilty to seven threat-related charges, and he is awaiting sentencing.
Oct. 4, 2018: The Polk County Sheriff’s Office in Florida arrested 53-year-old James Patrick of Winter Haven, Florida, for allegedly threatening “to kill Democratic office holders, members of their families and members of both local and federal law enforcement agencies,” according to a police report.
In messages posted online, Patrick detailed a “plan” for his attacks, which he said he would launch if then-nominee Brett Kavanaugh was not confirmed as a Supreme Court justice, the police report said. Seeking Patrick’s release from jail after his arrest, Patrick’s attorney, Terri Stewart, told a judge that her client’s “rantings” were akin to comments from “a certain high-ranking official” — Trump. The president had “threatened the North Korean people — to blow them all up. It was on Twitter,” Stewart said, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Patrick has been charged with making a written threat to kill or injure, and he has pleaded not guilty. His trial is pending.
Mail bombing suspect Cesar Sayoc’s van — covered with Trump stickers — is seen in Boca Raton, Floria.
Late October 2018: Over the course of a week, Florida man Cesar Sayoc allegedly mailed at least 15 potential bombs to prominent critics of Trump and members of the media. Sayoc had been living in a van plastered with pro-Trump stickers, and he had posted several pro-Trump messages on social media. Federal prosecutors have accused him of “domestic terrorism,” and Sayoc has since pleaded guilty to 65 counts, including use of a weapon of mass destruction. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison. “We believe the president’s rhetoric contributed to Mr. Sayoc’s behavior,” Sayoc’s attorney told the judge at sentencing.
Oct. 21, 2018: While Bruce M. Alexander of Tampa, Florida, was flying on a Southwest Airlines flight from Houston, Texas, to Albuquerque, New Mexico, he assaulted a woman by “reaching around the seat” in front of him and “offensively touching” her, he acknowledged in court documents. When federal authorities then arrested him, he “stated that the President of the United States says it’s ok to grab women by their private parts,” an FBI agent wrote in court documents. Alexander ultimately pleaded guilty to a federal misdemeanor count of simple assault and was sentenced to two days behind bars.
Nov. 3, 2018: Police in Tucson, Arizona, arrested 42-year-old Daniel Brito of Rockville, Maryland, on a robbery charge after he allegedly stole a Tucson man’s “Make America Great Again” hat and punched the victim several times. When a police officer responded to the scene, Brito told the officer, “I saw this guy with a Trump hat walk by and think about, ‘You know what, f–k him,” according to a police report. Brito later told two other officers that he believed the victim was a “Neo-nazi Jew hater” because the victim supported Trump, another police report said.
Dec. 4, 2018: Michael Brogan, 51, of Brooklyn, New York, left a voicemail at an unidentified U.S. Senator’s office in Washington insisting, “I’m going to put a bullet in ya. … You and your constant lambasting of President Trump. Oh, reproductive rights, reproductive rights.”
He later told an FBI agent that before leaving the voicemail he became “very angry” by “an Internet video of the Senator, including the Senator’s criticism of the President of the United States as well as the Senator’s views on reproductive rights.” “The threats were made to discourage the Senator from criticizing the President,” the Justice Department said in a later press release. Brogan has since pleaded guilty to one count of threatening a U.S. official, and he is awaiting sentencing.
Jan. 17, 2019: Stephen Taubert of Syracuse, New York, was arrested by the U.S. Capitol Police for threatening to kill Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., and for threatening to “hang” former President Barack Obama. Taubert used “overtly bigoted, hateful language” in his threats, according to federal prosecutors.
On July 20, 2018, Taubert called the congresswoman’s Los Angeles office to say he would find her at public events and kill her and her entire staff. In a letter to the judge just days before Taubert’s trial began, his defense attorney, Courtenay McKeon, noted: “During that time period, Congresswoman Waters was embroiled in a public feud with the Trump administration. … On June 25, 2018, in response to Congresswoman Waters’ public statements, President Trump tweeted: ‘Congresswoman Maxine Waters, an extraordinarily low IQ person, has … just called for harm to supporters … of the Make America Great Again movement. Be careful what you wish for Max!'”
As McKeon insisted to the judge: “This context is relevant to the case.” A federal jury ultimately convicted Taubert on three federal charges, including retaliating against a federal official and making a threat over state lines. He was sentenced to nearly four years in prison.
A cache of guns and ammunition uncovered by federal investigators in the home of Coast Guard lieutenant Christopher Paul Hasson, Feb. 20, 2019. (U.S. Attorney’s Office Maryland/Reuters)
Jan. 22, 2019: David Boileau of Holiday, Florida, was arrested by the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office for allegedly burglarizing an Iraqi family’s home and “going through” their mailbox, according to a police report. After officers arrived at the home, Boileau “made several statements of his dislike for people of Middle Eastern descent,” the report said. “He also stated if he doesn’t get rid of them, Trump will handle it.”
The police report noted that a day before, Boileau threw screws at a vehicle outside the family’s house. On that day, Boileau allegedly told police, “We’ll get rid of them one way or another.” Boileau, 58, has since pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of trespassing, and he was sentenced to 90 days in jail.
Feb. 15, 2019: The FBI in Maryland arrested a Marine veteran and U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant, Christopher Paul Hasson, who they said was stockpiling weapons and “espoused” racist and anti-immigrant views for years as he sought to “murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country.” In court documents, prosecutors said the 49-year-old “domestic terrorist” compiled a “hit list” of prominent Democrats.
Two months later, while seeking Hasson’s release from jail before trial, his public defender, Elizabeth Oyer, told a federal judge: “This looks like the sort of list that our commander-in-chief might have compiled while watching Fox News in the morning. … Is it legitimately frustrating that offensive language and ideology has now become part of our national vocabulary? Yes, it is very frustrating. But … it is hard to differentiate it from the random musings of someone like Donald Trump who uses similar epithets in his everyday language and tweets.”
Hasson ultimately pleaded guilty to federal weapons-related charges, and he was sentenced to more than 13 years in federal prison.
U.S. Coast Guard Lieutenant Christopher Paul Hasson was allegedly stockpiling weapons as he sought to launch a major attack, authorities said. Feb. 20, 2019.
Feb. 15, 2019: Police in Falmouth, Massachusetts, arrested 41-year-old Rosiane Santos after she “verbally assault[ed]” a man for wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat in a Mexican restaurant and then “violently push[ed] his head down,” according to police reports. Apparently intoxicated, “she stated that [the victim] was a ‘motherf—-r’ for supporting Trump,” one of the responding officers wrote.
“She also stated that he shouldn’t be allowed in a Mexican restaurant with that.” Santos was in the United States unlawfully, federal authorities said. Police arrested her on charges of “simple assault” and disorderly conduct. She has since admitted in local court that there are “sufficient facts” to warrant charges, and she has been placed on a form of probation.
Feb. 25, 2019: An 18-year-old student at Edmond Santa Fe High School in Edmond, Oklahoma, was captured on cellphone video “confronting a younger classmate who [was] wearing a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat and carrying a ‘Trump’ flag,” according to a press release from the local school system. “The [older] student then proceeds to grab the flag and knock the hat off of his classmate’s head.” The 18-year-old student was charged in local court with assault and battery, according to Edmond City Attorney Steve Murdock. The student has since pleaded guilty and was placed on probation, Murdock added.
March 16, 2019: Anthony Comello, 24, of Staten Island, New York, was taken into custody for allegedly killing Francesco “Franky Boy” Cali, the reputed head of the infamous Gambino crime family. It marked the first mob boss murder in New York in 30 years, law enforcement officials told ABC News the murder may have stemmed from Comello’s romantic relationship with a Cali family member.
Court documents since filed in state court by Comello’s defense attorney, Robert Gottlieb, said Comello suffers from mental defect and was a believer in the “conspiratorial fringe right-wing political group” QAnon. In addition, Gottlieb wrote: “Beginning with the election of President Trump in November 2016, Anthony Comello’s family began to notice changes to his personality. … Mr. Comello became certain that he was enjoying the protection of President Trump himself, and that he had the president’s full support.
Mr. Comello grew to believe that several well-known politicians and celebrities were actually members of the Deep State, and were actively trying to bring about the destruction of America.” Comello has been charged with one count of murder and two counts of criminal possession of a weapon. His trial is pending, and he has pleaded not guilty.
Anthony Comello appears for his extradition hearing in Toms River, N.J., March 18, 2019. (ABC News)
April 5, 2019: The FBI arrested a 55-year-old man from upstate New York for allegedly threatening to kill Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., one of the first two Muslim women elected to the U.S. Congress. She is an outspoken critic of Trump, and Trump has frequently launched public attacks against her and three other female lawmakers of color.
Two weeks before his arrest, Patrick Carlineo Jr. allegedly called Omar’s office in Washington labeling the congresswoman a “terrorist” and declaring: “I’ll put a bullet in her f—-ing skull.” When an FBI agent then traced the call to Carlineo and interviewed him, Carlineo “stated that he was a patriot, that he loves the President, and that he hates radical Muslims in our government,” according to the FBI agent’s summary of the interview. Federal prosecutors charged Carlineo with threatening to assault and murder a United States official. He has since pleaded guilty to the charge and was sentenced to one year in prison.
April 13, 2019: 27-year-old Jovan Crawford, of Gaithersburg, Maryland, and 25-year-old Scott Roberson Washington, D.C., assaulted and robbed a black man wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat while walking through his suburban Maryland neighborhood. Before punching and kicking him, “The two suspects harassed [the victim] about the hat and asked why he was wearing it. [The victim] told them he has his own beliefs and views,” according to charging documents filed after their arrest by Montgomery County, Maryland, police. Crawford later received a text message noting that, “They jumped some trump supporter,” the charging documents said. Crawford and Roberson have since pleaded guilty to assault charges. They were each sentenced to at least one year in prison.
April 18, 2019: The FBI arrested John Joseph Kless of Tamarac, Florida, for calling the Washington offices of three prominent Democrats and threatening to kill each of them. At his home, authorities found a loaded handgun in a backpack, an AR-15 rifle and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.
In later pleading guilty to one charge of transmitting threats over state lines, Kless admitted that in a threatening voicemail targeting Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., he stated: “You won’t f—ing tell Americans what to say, and you definitely don’t tell our president, Donald Trump, what to say.” Tlaib, a vocal critic of Trump, was scheduled to speak in Florida four days later. Kless was awaiting sentencing. In a letter to the federal judge, he said he “made a very big mistake,” never meant to hurt anyone, and “was way out of line with my language and attitude.” Kless was sentenced to one year behind bars.
April 24, 2019: The FBI arrested 30-year-old Matthew Haviland of North Kingstown, Rhode Island, for allegedly sending a series of violent and threatening emails to a college professor in Massachusetts who publicly expressed support for abortion rights and strongly criticized Trump.
In one of 28 emails sent to the professor on March 10, 2019, Haviland allegedly called the professor “pure evil” and said “all Democrats must be eradicated,” insisting the country now has “a president who’s taking our country in a place of more freedom rather than less.” In another email the same day, Haviland allegedly wrote the professor: “I will rip every limb from your body and … I will kill every member of your family.”
According to court documents, Haviland’s longtime friend later told the FBI that “within the last year, Haviland’s views regarding abortion and politics have become more extreme … at least in part because of the way the news media portrays President Trump.” Haviland has since pleaded guilty to charges of cyberstalking and transmitting a threat in interstate commerce. He is awaiting sentencing.
Law enforcement agencies respond to an active shooter at a Wal-Mart near Cielo Vista Mall in El Paso, Texas, Aug. 3, 2019.
June 5, 2019: The FBI arrested a Utah man for allegedly calling the U.S. Capitol more than 2,000 times over several months and threatening to kill Democratic lawmakers, whom he said were “trying to destroy Trump’s presidency.” “I am going to take up my second amendment right, and shoot you liberals in the head,” 54-year-old Scott Brian Haven allegedly stated in one of the calls on Oct. 18, 2018, according to charging documents.
When an FBI agent later interviewed Haven, he “explained the phone calls were made during periods of frustration with the way Democrats were treating President Trump,” the charging documents said. The FBI visit, however, didn’t stop Haven from making more threats, including: On March 21, 2019, he called an unidentified U.S. senator’s office to say that if Democrats refer to Trump as Hitler again he will shoot them, and two days later he called an unidentified congressman’s office to say he “was going to take [the congressman] out … because he is trying to remove a duly elected President.” A federal grand jury has since charged Haven with one count of transmitting a threat over state lines. Haven has since pleaded guilty to one count of transmitting a threat over state lines. He was sentenced to time served.
Aug. 3, 2019: A gunman opened fire at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, killing 22 people and injuring 24 others. The FBI labeled the massacre an act of “domestic terrorism,” and police determined that the alleged shooter, 21-year-old Patrick Crusius, posted a lengthy anti-immigrant diatribe online before the attack. “We attribute that manifesto directly to him,” according to El Paso police chief Greg Allen. Describing the coming assault as “a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas,” the screed’s writer said “the media” would “blame Trump’s rhetoric” for the attack but insisted his anti-immigrant views “predate Trump” — an apparent acknowledgement that at least some of his views align with some of Trump’s public statements.
The writer began his online essay by stating that he generally “support[s]” the previous writings of the man who killed 51 Muslim worshippers in New Zealand earlier this year. In that case, the shooter in New Zealand said he absolutely did not support Trump as “a policy maker and leader”— but “[a]s a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose? Sure.” Crusius has been charged with capital murder by the state of Texas.
Aug. 16, 2019: The FBI arrested Eric Lin, 35, of Clarksburg, Maryland, for sending threatening and hate-filled messages over Facebook vowing to kill a Miami-area woman and “all Hispanics in Miami and other places,” as the Justice Department described it. Over two months, the woman received 150 pages’ worth of messages from Lin, the FBI said.
In June 2019, Lin allegedly wrote: “In 3 short years your entire Race your entire culture will perish only then after I kill your [epithet] family will I permit you to Die by Hanging on Metal Wire.” A month later, on July 19, 2019, he allegedly wrote: “I Thank God everday President Donald John Trump is President and that he will launch a Racial War and Crusade to keep the n—-rs, S—s, and Muslims and any dangerous non-White or Ethnically or Culturally Foreign group ‘In Line.’”
On his Facebook account, Lin says he “Studied at Trump University,” and he repeatedly praises Trump for, among other things, “fomenting racial hatred” and “Making Racism Ok Again.” At the same time, a few of his posts seem to praise Democrats and minorities. In January, Lin pleaded guilty to one count of transmitting a threatening communication. He has yet to be sentenced.
Aug. 21, 2019: Nathan Semans of Humphreys County, Tennessee, was arrested by state law enforcement for allegedly emailing a threat to a local TV station that demanded the station broadcast a certain story. “Look if you don’t run story I’m going to state capital to blow someone’s brains out,” the email stated. The email then added in part: “I don’t look good at the moment cause the tyranny of what trump did … I’m sick of this nonsense and bologna hanging around that trumps [sic] the perfect American, hallelujah against Trump.” Semans has been charged with one count of making terrorist threats, and his trial is pending. It’s unclear if he has entered an initial plea.
Oct. 7, 2019: A woman driving in Moorhead, Minnesota, called police after 27-year-old Joseph Schumacher of North Dakota allegedly rolled down his window and “began yelling at the female expressing his dislike for the political bumper sticker [she] had displayed on her car,” according to police reports. Schumacher then allegedly pointed to the “Trump Pence” bumper sticker on his own vehicle “and further expressed his difference in national political views” before “brandishing a pistol” inside his vehicle, police said.
Schumacher was ultimately arrested on three misdemeanor charges, including disorderly conduct that could “reasonably arouse alarm.” He ultimately pleaded guilty to the disorderly conduct charge and a “gross misdemeanor” charge of carrying a weapon without a permit. He was sentenced to a year behind bars.
Oct. 25, 2019: The FBI arrested Jan Peter Meister of Tucson, Arizona, for threatening to kill House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff, D-California. Three weeks earlier, he left a voicemail at Schiff’s office in Washington, D.C, promising to “blow your brains out.” According to court documents filed in the case, Meister told FBI agents that “he strongly dislikes the Democrats, and feels they are to blame for the country’s political issues.”
In other court documents, Meister’s attorney, Bradley Roach, noted that the charge his client ultimately accepted “involves threats of injury of death against a political figure who figures very prominently in the ongoing impeachment of President Trump.” Meister has pleaded guilty to one count of threatening a U.S. official. A plea agreement with prosecutors calls for Meister to be sentenced to time already served.
Oct. 26, 2019: During a Collier County fair in Florida, a teenage girl allegedly assaulted a man dressed as Trump. “While standing in line [with my wife and stepdaughter] waiting our turn to go in to the haunted house exhibit, [she] … walked over to me and punched me in my left jaw. She laughed and ran back to her place in line,” the man told police, according a police report of the incident.
The unidentified girl’s “sole motivation was to strike ‘Trump,’” and a video of the incident was posted on social media, the police report added. The girl was issued a civil citation and ordered to appear in court, according to the Collier County sheriff’s office.
Nov. 1, 2019: Clifton Blackwell, 61, of Milwaukee was arrested by local police after allegedly throwing acid on a Peruvian-American’s face and accusing him of being inside the United States illegally. Before attacking the victim outside of a Mexican restaurant, Blackwell allegedly asked the victim “Why you invade my country?” and “Why don’t you respect my laws?”
The attack was captured on video by surveillance cameras, and the victim suffered second-degree burns on his face and neck. When police then searched Blackwell’s home, they found gun parts and “three letters addressed to President Donald Trump,” a police report noted. And when police interviewed an employee at a grocery store frequented by Blackwell, the employee told police that Blackwell “many times talked about his political support for President Trump,” according to a police report.
“She stated she was even warned by the security guard James to not talk about political issued when [Blackwell] is in the store because of how he acts.” Blackwell was charged with first-degree reckless injury during a hate crime. He pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.
Nov. 6, 2019: Lawrence K. Garcia of the Albuquerque, New Mexico, area was arrested by the FBI for allegedly threatening to kill local law enforcement and bomb a U.S. bank’s offices. In a phone call to the bank, Garcia said, “If Donald J. Trump doesn’t step down by my birthday, the day after, we shall declare war against the devil. … [S]o Donald J. Trump you are going to bow to the American people,” according to charging documents filed in the case.
A federal grand jury indicted Garcia on one count of communicating a threat over state lines, but he has a history of mental illness and a federal judge later determined he “is not presently competent to stand trial.” Garcia was placed into federal custody to receive treatment.
Feb. 11, 2020: Patrick Bradley, 34, of Windham, N.H., was arrested by local police for allegedly assaulting a pro-Trump teenager on the day of New Hampshire’s primary election for presidential nominees. According to police, “Bradley had exited the voting polls located inside Windham High School and was walking by a TRUMP campaign tent occupied by several campaign supporters / workers.
As he passed by the tent, Bradley slapped [the] 15-year old juvenile across the face. He then assaulted two other adults who attempted to intercede. Bradley was also accused of throwing TRUMP campaign signs and attempting to knock over the aforementioned tent.” Bradley was charged with three misdemeanor counts of simple assault and one count of disorderly conduct. He has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.
Feb. 19, 2020: The FBI arrested Salvatore Lippa II, 57, of upstate New York for allegedly threatening to kill Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, the top Democrat in the Senate, and Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. In late January, he left a voicemail at Schiff’s office in Washington, D.C., calling Schiff a “scumbag” and threatening to “put a bullet in your [expletive] forehead,” according to charging documents.
Two weeks later, he allegedly left a voicemail at Schumer’s office in Albany, New York, saying “somebody wants to assassinate you.” When federal authorities confronted Lippa, he “admitted that he made the threatening calls because he was upset about the impeachment proceedings” targeting Trump. Lippa has been charged with threatening to kill a U.S. official and is currently engaged in plea negotiations with the government, according to court records.
April 30, 2020: A Pennsylvania man who fled Cuba nearly two decades ago, Alazo Alexander, allegedly opened fire on the Cuban embassy in Washington, D.C. When police officers first arrested Alexander, he was holding an American flag and yelling nonsensical statements, according to charging documents filed in the case. He had also unsuccessfully tried to burn a Cuban flag that had several phrases written on it, including, “Trump 2020.” After his arrest, Alexander told authorities he had heard voices in his head and believed certain Cubans were trying to kill him, so he “wanted to get them before they got him,” the charging documents said. His wife later told authorities that Garcia was previously diagnosed with a delusional disorder. Garcia has been charged with three firearms-related offenses, including one count of using a deadly weapon to attack a foreign official. It’s unclear if he’s entered an initial plea.
ABC News’ Aaron Katersky, Meg Cunningham, Luke Barr, Karen Travers, and Alexis Scott contributed to this report. EDITOR’S NOTE: This article has been updated since it was first published in October 2018.
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