For the last two years, if you dare speak ill of Donald Trump on social media, you run the risk of being viciously trolled, harassed, and threatened. This trend has continued unabated since Trump took office, with a number of Trump diehards claiming that people who dared to speak ill of their Orange Messiah have paid a stiff price. Supposedly, Carrie Underwood fell down after mocking Trump at the Country Music Association Awards, and Lindsey Vonn suffered a back injury after saying she was representing the American people at the Winter Olympics, not Trump.
But the idea that there is an 11th commandment–“Thou shalt not speak ill of Donald Trump”–can no longer be dismissed as “just the Internet.” There are elements among Trump diehards that are prepared to throw the First Amendment out altogether. That’s the only thing you can take from one of the loudest and most prominent of those diehards declaring that reporters who write critical stories about Trump may be committing treason.
Whenever right-wingers want to roll out a terrorism “expert,” one of their go-to guys is former FBI agent John Guandolo. To hear him talk, for instance, Muslim interfaith outreach efforts are part of an Islamist effort to take over our communities. For years, he has maintained that every major Muslim organization is a stalking horse for sharia law.
But lately, Guandolo has betrayed a disturbing willingness to put the First Amendment in the shredder. Last spring, he revealed that when his organization, Understanding the Threat, briefs law enforcement groups, he tells them that jihadist outfits are bankrolling many anti-Trump protests. The message was implicit–those resisting Trump are secretly being propped up by people who are out to kill us.
On Tuesday, he told Christian talk show host Perry Atkinson that those working on the investigation into Russia’s effort to hack the election should be arrested and possibly executed for treason. He contended that the investigation was part of a deep state effort to overthrow Trump. Translation: those who are investigating potentially treasonous behavior by the Trump campaign are themselves traitors. Lovely.
But it turns out that spiel was mild stuff compared to what he spewed earlier on Tuesday, when he had a chat with Rob Schilling, the lunchtime host on WINA in Charlottesville, Virginia. It turns out that this interview was the first time that day in which he claimed Mueller Time was part of a conspiracy against Trump. But to hear him talk, elements of the media are part of that conspiracy. People for the American Way’s Right Wing Watch got a clip.
Guandolo told Schilling that FBI agents, DOJ officials and the Hillary Clinton campaign pressed for a warrant on Trump Tower based on Christopher Steele’s “golden showers” dossier under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, they did so when they knew that the dossier was bogus. This has become a common theme among Trump tailenders. What they don’t want you to know is that multiple Western intelligence agencies believe that the dossier is credible, and that a number of key portions have been independently corroborated by American intelligence.
But such little things as facts have never gotten in the way of a good conspiracy theory. This was no different. Guandolo maintained that those who pressed for a FISA warrant knowing that the dossier was a forgery committed a criminal act. But Guandolo claimed it went further than that. He believed that it was part of “a larger movement” to not only rig the electoral system, but to “overthrow a duly elected president.” To his mind, this amounted to “sedition” and “treason,” and those responsible should be executed.
Tellingly, Schilling thought Guandolo’s account was “fascinating,” especially since people other than Trump seemed to be “completely excluded from public scrutiny.” Guandolo said that there was one other institution that should be under the hot lights–the media.
“This is a hostile Marxist movement in the United States, and the media is a part of that movement. They have a role to play, they do play a role.”
Guandolo claimed that “over 90 percent” of reporting about Trump is negative–something that “doesn’t happen randomly.” He contended that the media is part and parcel of this supposed movement to overthrow Trump, and called for it to be dealt with severely.
“When you can demonstrate that somebody is operating intentionally in furtherance of a movement that conspires to overthrow the government, that’s a violation of the law. It is, again, it’s for all those involved, it’s sedition. For people in positions of authority who have duties in the government, then treason can be applied to them. And for people in the media who are willingly supporting and knowingly supporting a movement to destroy the republic, overthrow the government, they can be charged for that.”
Guandolo claimed that this movement to overthow Trump is working hand in glove with a “Marxist counterstate” and “Islamic counterstate” on our shores.
As disturbing as this was by itself, it was equally disturbing to hear Schilling lap it up. Did he ask for Guandolo to provide evidence for such staggering claims? Nope. He actually asked if Jeff Sessions’ DOJ was working to investigate these allegations. No pushback whatsoever.
It cannot be stated enough. Guandolo effectively shredded the oath he swore to defend the Constitution. But then again, he has already demonstrated that he cared little about that oath. He has claimed for some time that he was driven out of the FBI for sounding the alarm about an Islamist takeover of the Hoover Building. In truth, however, he resigned in 2008 rather than face almost certain termination for having an affair with the star witness in the corruption case against former Congressman William Jefferson. It almost derailed the case.
The thing that should really frighten us is that Guandolo was merely saying what a number of Trump diehards are probably saying behind closed doors. At least now we know it’s out in the open. And we also know that a certain element of the right wants to put the First Amendment in the shredder.
(featured image: screengrab via YouTube)