CNN (among other outlets) has been running one clip from President Trump’s address to his supporters at the White House from January 6 on a loop. It shows the President telling the assembled crowd to “fight like hell.” It should have been obvious that Trump was using the word “fight” in the political sense and a quick Google search will show the majority of candidates for various offices around the country saying variations of the same thing. But the subsequent riot at the Capitol building appears to indicate that too many people took him far too literally.
The latest worrisome bit of news to come out is that the FBI has collected intelligence that anticipates “armed protests” at all fifty state capitals and Washington, D.C. next week. We’ll get to what that might really mean in a moment, but considering how the attack on January 6 has left everyone on edge, you can understand why law enforcement agencies are growing a bit nervous. (Associated Press)
The FBI is warning of plans for armed protests at all 50 state capitals and in Washington, D.C., in the days leading up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, stoking fears of more bloodshed after last week’s deadly siege at the U.S. Capitol.
An internal FBI bulletin warned, as of Sunday, that the nationwide protests may start later this week and extend through Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration, according to two law enforcement officials who read details of the memo to The Associated Press. Investigators believe some of the people are members of extremist groups, the officials said. The bulletin was first reported by ABC.
When I think of “armed protests” being planned by ostensibly conservative groups, I generally think of people who are legally open carrying during a demonstration in support of Second Amendment rights. Such activities take place on a regular basis without anyone winding up needing a trip to the hospital. But after the events of January 6, does it seem likely that law enforcement, particularly on Capitol Hill, are going to blithely make that assumption? (I’m not entirely sure any of us should, to be honest.)
There still may be a way to stave off any potential nightmare scenarios and it could help President Trump undo some of the damage he’s taken in the wake of the Capitol Hill riot. He’s actually already taken the first step in that direction. Just yesterday, the President approved an emergency declaration for Washington D.C., ordering federal resources to complement the local law enforcement response. FEMA will be prepared with emergency resources to respond to any incidents. The order runs from today through January 24th, four days after Joe Biden’s anticipated inauguration.
That’s a good first step. If anyone is seriously thinking of attempting more violence in the run-up to the inauguration, that emergency order should make it clear that Trump not only opposes such actions but is authorizing the appropriate people to meet force with force. But just because that order should send a message, that doesn’t mean everyone is going to take the hint. With that in mind, there’s one more definitive step that the President could take.
While we know that the President has been kicked off of Twitter, he still has more traditional methods available to communicate with his supporters. Why not sit down in the Oval Office with the cameras rolling and issue a gentle but firm message telling anyone thinking of resorting to violence over the next week to stand down? He could easily cushion the message by thanking people for the outwelling of support that he’s seen, but insist that he doesn’t want any violence undertaken on his behalf. He could follow that up with a cautionary note about how law enforcement will be standing by, locked and loaded, for anyone who decides to attempt to take the law into their own hands by violence. Remind all of his followers that they put up a good battle in the recent election, but fate has other things in store.
This would be a very easy speech to write and it would deflate the various alarmists on cable news who still insinuate that Trump wants more violence before he departs the White House. Any supporters who might actually be considering acts of violence will be most likely to avoid such a path if they hear it from the President’s own lips and are further reminded that this time they might not survive the response from the police and the National Guard.
Also, the video would be promulgated on Twitter and every other social media and news outlet whether the woke lords of the MSM liked it or not. The President wouldn’t actually need his Twitter account to get the message out. This is at least something to consider, and I hope some of the President’s advisors and family members are trying to steer him in that direction. As for anyone out there who may read this and think that “standing down is for losers” and that violence is somehow justified in this moment, I honestly don’t know what to tell you. You’ve lost your way. And an actual armed insurrection this month will most assuredly fail in a bloody and spectacular way without changing the coming course of events. On top of that, you’ll simply feed into the media narrative and the talking heads on cable news will proclaim that they were right all along about both the President and his supporters.