After a long day of rage-tweeting about how unfairly he’s been treated over his efforts to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate Joe Biden, President Trump on Sunday night raised the specter of a civil war should the Democrats’ new impeachment inquiry prove successful.
The nod to a potential violent outbreak came as part of a four-tweet thread quoting Texas-based pastor and Fox News contributor Robert Jeffress. “If the Democrats are successful in removing the President from office (which they will never be), it will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal,” the quote ended.
The tweets provoked outrage from the left, and also one of the harshest condemnations of the president we’ve seen from a Republican lawmaker. “I have visited nations ravaged by civil war. @realDonaldTrump I have never imagined such a quote to be repeated by a President,” tweeted Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), an Iraq and Afghanistan veteran. “This is beyond repugnant.”
— Adam Kinzinger (@RepKinzinger) September 30, 2019
The president wasn’t alone in implying that the impeachment inquiry could result in violence.
At the center of the effort to solicit election interference from a foreign government is Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer who has been working with Ukrainian officials to dig into the Bidens for months. A day before Trump tweeted about a potential civil war breaking out, Giuliani suggested violence could be on the horizon. “I appeal to honest and fair-minded Democrats to realize that ‘equal treatment under law’ is necessary for domestic tranquillity,” he wrote on Saturday. “We are all Americans. The differing treatment by media and law enforcement for Trumps vs. Bidens and Clintons is a real problem for all of us to solve.”
Though some may dismiss talk of a civil war and the loss of “domestic tranquility” as Trump being Trump and Giuliani being… whatever Giuliani has become since he crawled into Trump’s pocket prior to the 2016 election, some of the people who could spark such a conflict are taking these dog whistles to heart. “We ARE on the verge of a HOT civil war,” tweeted Stewart Rhodes, leader of the Oath Keepers, an extremist militia that has been flagged by the Southern Poverty Law Center. “Like in 1859. That’s where we are.”
Stewart Rhodes, leader of the Oath Keepers militia, is already embracing Trump's "Civil War" tweet. pic.twitter.com/YyPfBPWxaR
— Nick Martin (@nickmartin) September 30, 2019
It would be nice if more Republican lawmakers could step up and do something as seemingly uncontroversial as denouncing the prospect of a civil war, like Kinzinger did on Sunday. But we’re not holding our breath.