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Matt Gaetz accuses media of ‘greenlighting’ Trump assassination

Washington Post editor writes most Americans may not care about move to dictatorship if they ‘can go about their daily business ... just as many Russians and Hungarians do not care’

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Tuesday 05 December 2023 15:39 GMT
Related video: Trump issues chilling call to ‘watch’ votes

Far-right Florida Rep Matt Gaetz has claimed that the press is “green-lighting” the assassination of former President Donald Trump by reporting on what a second Trump term would look like.

On Monday, Mr Gaetz tweeted “They’re obviously green-lighting assassination” and included a screenshot from a Washington Post op-ed by Post Opinions contributing editor Robert Kagan bearing the headline “A Trump dictatorship is increasingly inevitable. We should stop pretending”.

Responding to Mr Gaetz, Condé Nast Legal Affairs Editor Luke Zaleski noted that “There is nothing you can say or do to confront Maga gaslighting that won’t be met with more MAGA gaslighting”.

“They’ll say anything to make themselves the victim and hero in everything. And there is nothing you can say to do anything about it. That is the MAGA gaslighting paradox,” he added.

The image for the op-ed was a split image with the top being the head of a statue of Roman dictator Julius Ceaser, who was assassinated in 44BC, and the bottom being the face of Mr Trump.

Mr Kagan writes that “the national mood less than a year before the election is one of bipartisan disgust with the political system in general. Rarely in American history has democracy’s inherent messiness been more striking”.

“In Weimar Germany, Hitler and other agitators benefited from the squabbling of the democratic parties, right and left, the endless fights over the budget, the logjams in the legislature, the fragile and fractious coalitions,” he added. “German voters increasingly yearned for someone to cut through it all and get something — anything — done. It didn’t matter who was behind the political paralysis, either, whether the intransigence came from the right or the left.”

The Post editor goes on to say that the “likeliest outcome” of Mr Trump’s many upcoming trials “will be to demonstrate our judicial system’s inability to contain someone like Trump and, incidentally, to reveal its impotence as a check should he become president”.

“Indicting Trump for trying to overthrow the government will prove akin to indicting Caesar for crossing the Rubicon, and just as effective. Like Caesar, Trump wields a clout that transcends the laws and institutions of government, based on the unswerving personal loyalty of his army of followers,” he adds.

Mr Kagan argues that if Mr Trump wins in 2024, he’ll “become the most powerful person ever to hold that office” with the “fewest constraints of any president, fewer even than in his own first term”.

“Would he even obey a directive of the Supreme Court? Or would he instead ask how many armored divisions the chief justice has?” he asks.

“Trump might not want or need a third term, but were he to decide he wanted one, as he has sometimes indicated, would the 22nd Amendment block him any more effectively from being president for life than the Supreme Court, if he refused to be blocked?” Mr Kagan notes.

“Today, there is the whiff of a new McCarthyism in the air,” he adds, noting the many baseless accusations of those not on Mr Trump’s side being “communists”.

“The Trump dictatorship will not be a communist tyranny, where almost everyone feels the oppression and has their lives shaped by it,” Mr Kagan goes on to say. “In conservative, anti-liberal tyrannies, ordinary people face all kinds of limitations on their freedoms, but it is a problem for them only to the degree that they value those freedoms, and many people do not ... if most Americans can go about their daily business, they might not care, just as many Russians and Hungarians do not care.”

Mr Gaetz’s followers on X were quick to respond with outrage.

Auron MacIntyre, a columnist at the rightwing outlet The Blaze, wrote: “Nobody talks about it but there were already assassination attempts on Trump. When Trump inevitably becomes the nominee you are going to watch the very last shred of sanity break in the media.”

He didn’t provide any evidence for his claims.

Failed GOP 2022 Arizona gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake simply called The Post “despicable”.

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