WASHINGTON – The last throes of Donald Trump’s presidency have turned ugly — even dangerous.
Death threats are on the rise. Local and state election officials are being hounded into hiding. A Trump campaign lawyer is declaring publicly that a federal official who defended the integrity of the election should be “drawn and quartered" or simply shot.
Neutral public servants, Democrats and a growing number of Republicans who won’t do what Trump wants are being caught in a menacing postelection undertow stirred by Trump’s grievances about the election he lost.
“Death threats, physical threats, intimidation — it’s too much, it’s not right,” said Gabriel Sterling, a Republican elections official in Georgia who implored Trump to “stop inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence.” Trump in response only pressed his groundless case that he lost unfairly, neither discouraging trouble nor explicitly calling for it.
The triggering of emotions has always been a Trump staple. His political movement was born in arenas that echoed with chants of “lock her up.” His support has been animated over the past four years by his relentlessly mocking ways, his slams against the “enemy of the people,” and his raw talent for belittling political foes with insulting nicknames like “Sleepy Joe” Biden. That’s one of the nicer ones.
But in the final weeks of Trump’s presidency, the tenor has taken on an even more toxic edge as state after state has affirmed Biden’s victory, judge after judge has dismissed Trump's legal challenges and his cadre of loyalists has played to his frustrations. As Biden builds the foundation of his new administration, Trump is commanding attention for the agitations he is likely to carry forward when he is gone from office.
“I do not think this goes away on January 20,” Eric Coomer, security director for Dominion Voting Systems, said from the secret location where he is hiding out from death threats. "I think it will continue for a long time."
Tough beans, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said of the state officials who are fearing for their safety.