Counterterrorism Pros Warn That Trump’s Rhetoric Will Yield Violence

Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

No one yet knows who sent improvised bombs to current and former Democratic Party leaders, CNN, George Soros, and now Robert DeNiro. But counterterrorism professionals are warning—tentatively—that the incendiary rhetoric from President Trump is conducive to political violence.

The mail-borne bombs may not have anything to do with anything Trump has said, though all of their intended targets appear to be critics and rivals of the president. Even if they are unrelated, there remains a danger that the atmosphere Trump’s demonizations have created will yield violence against liberals, Democrats and journalists, some ex-counterterrorism practitioners said.

“By publicly demonizing his perceived adversaries at rallies and social media, Trump essentially painted a target on their backs,” said Daryl Johnson, a former Department of Homeland Security analyst of far-right extremism. “We’ve seen this same technique used by extremist spokespersons and leaders to incite others toward violent action.”

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