More than three days after ex-President Donald Trump issued an explicit death threat against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and incited racist violence against his wife, Elaine Chao, leading Republicans and Democrats have refused to publicly condemn Trump.
On Friday, September 30, after McConnell joined 74 other Democratic and Republican senators in voting in favor of a continuing resolution to prevent a federal shutdown and for a token reform to the Electoral Count Act, Trump sent out a death threat on his Truth Social media platform.
Trump wrote that McConnell voted for the bills “because he hates Donald J. Trump,” or “he believes in the Fake and Highly Destructive Green New Deal, and is willing to take the Country down with him.”
“[E]ither reason is unacceptable,” Trump declared. “He has a DEATH WISH.”
In a Sunday appearance on Face the Nation with Margaret Brennan, Florida Republican Senator Rick Scott, the former governor of Florida and current chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, refused to denounce Trump’s death threat when asked directly by Brennan multiple times.
“Well I think what we got to do is we got to bring everybody together,” Scott said in his first reply to Brennan when asked to rebuke Trump. Scott immediately transitioned to an attack on Vice President Kamala Harris. “I would also say what Vice President Harris said yesterday, or the day before yesterday, that, you know, if you’re a different skin color you are going to get relief faster…”
“That’s not what the vice president said,” Brennan interjected. She again asked Scott specifically about Trump’s “DEATH WISH” statement and Marjorie Taylor Greene’s fascistic comments at his “Save America” rally in Warren, Michigan, held on Saturday night.
During the Republican rally, held a day after Trump attacked McConnell and his wife, none of the Trump-endorsed candidates, including Michigan Republican gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon, candidate for attorney general Matthew DePerno or secretary of state candidate Kristina Karamo, defended McConnell or sought to distance themselves from Trump in any way.
In her speech Saturday night, which featured her usual attacks on LGBTQ persons and Jewish billionaire and Holocaust survivor George Soros, Greene, in a flagrant lie and incitement to violence, said that Democrats have “already started killing” Republicans.
Asked again by Brennan to respond to Trump’s and Greene’s comments, Senator Scott refused, pivoting to “inflation” and “out of control spending,” by which he means social programs for the working class, not Wall Street bailouts.
Brennan again attempted to get Scott to denounce Trump’s threats, asking the senator if Trump’s language was “dangerous.”
“I think we all have to figure out how to start bringing people together,” Scott replied mechanically. Asked by Brennan if Trump’s language “brought people together,” Scott defended the aspiring dictator, telling his host, “I think what President Trump was talking about was we can’t keep spending money, we are going to hurt our poorest families the most with this reckless Democrat spending and we can’t cave in to their spending.”
“Ok, that’s not what the former president said,” Brennan replied, reminding Scott that Trump also referred to Taiwanese-born Elaine Chao, McConnell’s wife and Trump’s former transportation secretary, as “China-loving... Coco Chow.”
“He likes ... he gives people nicknames,” Scott replied. “I am sure he has a nickname for me. All right. So. You can ask him what he means by those nicknames.”
Brennan again referred to QAnon fascist Marjorie Taylor Greene’s comments Saturday night about Democrats having “already” started to kill Republicans, to which Scott said he “didn’t see what she said, but it is also not helpful what the vice president said,” in another attempt to deflect the question back to alleged comments by Kamala Harris.
Scott ended the interview without once denouncing or rebuking Trump or Greene for their comments, in the process implicitly endorsing their fascistic statements.
In another interview that same Sunday morning, this time with CNN’s Dana Bash, Scott was again asked to comment on Trump’s death threat against McConnell. Again, the high-ranking Republican senator and potential contender for Senate Republican majority leader deflected.
“Look, I can never talk about, respond to, why anybody else says what they said,” Scott replied. He employed the “nickname” defense again, saying that “the president likes to give people nicknames. You can ask him how he came up with the nickname, I am sure he has a nickname for me.”
Trump messaging his 4 million followers on Truth Social that McConnell has a “DEATH WISH” and that he should seek “advice” from his “China-loving wife... Coco Chow” is hardly ambiguous and not a playful nickname. It is a deadly serious threat coming from Trump, the leader of the largest fascist movement in the United States.
Trump chooses his incitements carefully, as he did when he told the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by.” Less than four months later, they, along with other fascist pro-Trump militia groups, stormed the Capitol in an attempt to block the Electoral College certification by capturing and/or killing politicians. Trump knows exactly what he doing, and that it can and will lead to political violence.
This is not the first time Trump has placed a target on a Republican politician’s back, or neck, for not showing enough “loyalty” to the boss. For refusing to go along with Trump coup lawyer John Eastman’s ploy to unilaterally reject Electoral College votes from states Trump lost on January 6, Vice President Mike Pence was targeted by Trump on Twitter. In a direct message to his brownshirts, who were in the process of storming the deliberately under-defended Capitol, Trump wrote on January 6 at 2:24 p.m.: “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done.”
Within minutes of Trump’s tweet, the fascist mob, both outside and inside the Capitol at this point, was chanting, “Hang Mike Pence.”
According to informants and text messages obtained in the seditious conspiracy case against the Proud Boys, members of the group involved in the attack were specifically targeting Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi once they broke into the Capitol. The January 6 House Select Committee has stated that Trump’s armed mob was at one point roughly 40 feet (about 12 meters) away from Pence as he was fleeing the Senate chamber during the attack.
Neither Scott nor McConnell, both of whom voted against convicting Trump in the second impeachment trial, has decided to speak out against Trump, nor have any other of the 50 Republican senators, including the 2012 Republican nominee for president Mitt Romney. This prompted the right-wing editorial board of the Wall Street Journal, owned by billionaire Rupert Murdoch, to publish an editorial Sunday night denouncing Trump’s violent threats.
“[T]he ‘death wish’ rhetoric is ugly even by Mr. Trump’s standards and deserves to be condemned,” this leading organ of finance capital wrote. “Mr. Trump’s apologists claim he merely meant Mr. McConnell has a political death wish, but that isn’t what he wrote. It’s all too easy to imagine some fanatic taking Mr. Trump seriously and literally, and attempting to kill Mr. McConnell.”
The silence of the Republicans in the face of Trump’s threats is mirrored by the alleged “political alternative,” the Democratic Party. Despite his longstanding friendship with McConnell, fostered over 24 years of “bipartisanship” in the Senate beginning in 1984, President Joe Biden, as of this writing, has yet to make any public statement denouncing Trump’s death threats.
The fecklessness of both big business parties in the face of Trump’s violent threats expresses a real fear on the part of the ruling class not of Trump and fascism, but of a mass movement of the working class that will develop against the threat of a right-wing dictatorship.
The leadership of both capitalist parties, reflecting the attitudes of the ruling class as a whole, are terrified that if they loudly denounced Trump for the fascist thug he is, they would alert the working class to the true extent of the fascist danger, with much of the Republican Party embracing dictatorial methods of rule.
The response of a politically mobilized working class would represent the greatest threat to their ill-gotten wealth and to the capitalist system as a whole.