Despite having a history of calling for Hillary Clinton to be “shot for treason,” Trump supporter and Republican New Hampshire Representative Al Baldasaro was present at a White House bill ceremony on Friday. The controversial appearance comes on the same day that Representative Steve Scalise was released from the ICU after being shot in the hip during a GOP baseball team practice last week.
Since the shooting, which was carried out by alleged “lone gunman” James Hodgkinson, politicians from both sides of the aisle have called for a reigning-in of violent political rhetoric. According to investigators, Hodgkinson had a “hit list” of Republican politicians when he was shot and killed by Capitol Hill police.
Donald Trump and Al Baldasaro have a fairly friendly professional relationship, with Baldasaro serving as a delegate for Trump at last year’s Republican National Convention. The duo met up again at Friday morning’s ceremony to sign a bill intended to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs, reports ABC News.
In the aftermath of last week’s shooting at a Republican baseball practice in Alexandria, the presence of Al Baldasaro at Friday’s event was of particular notice, especially given the push to tone-down talk and threats of political violence.
Less than a year ago, the Secret Service opened an investigation into Baldasaro after a radio appearance in which he advocated for the execution of Hillary Clinton. According to Al Baldasaro, Clinton’s handling of the September 11, 2012, Benghazi attack was tantamount to treason. He also expressed a concern for her management of her private email server, an issue that dogged Clinton’s failed 2016 presidential bid.
According to Baldasaro, the appropriate punishment for Clinton’s transgressions would be shooting her “in the firing line.”
“Hillary Clinton should be put in the firing line and shot for treason.”
The appearance of Al Baldasaro next to Trump on Friday raised even more eyebrows because it came just a day after actor Johnny Depp jokingly made a reference to the assassination of Donald Trump. As CNN reports, Depp made a comment about the “last time an actor assassinated a president” (believed to be a reference to John Wilkes Booth shooting and killing Lincoln 150 years ago) last night at the Glastonbury arts festival in England.
— Yashar Ali (@yashar) June 23, 2017
“When was the last time an actor assassinated a president?”
While last night’s crowd seemed to get a good laugh out of the joke, media pundits and critics around the globe lambasted Depp for his words, which he since apologized for, calling them a bad joke. According to critics, who have called for a boycott of all things Johnny, his “bad joke” was in exceptionally bad taste given that it was made just eight days after the Scalise shooting.
Disgusting! Johnny Depp talks about assassinating President Trump, referencing Abraham Lincoln's assassination by an actor pic.twitter.com/wfASurcd9q
— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) June 23, 2017
Criticism of Depp’s words even came from the White House itself. On Friday, the same day that Representative Al Baldasaro joined Donald Trump for his bill signing ceremony, Sean Spicer took Depp to task for his Thursday night joke.
“It is, frankly, in my belief, a little troubling, the lack of outrage in some of these instances where people have said what they’ve said with respect to the president and the actions that should be taken. The president has made it clear that we should denounce violence in all of its forms.”
It's ok to threaten women but not white men
— pkapauline (@pkapauline1) June 23, 2017
But he is Trump friendly so saying those things is Ok.. its only wrong if you are against Trump and GOP.
Like any dictator runs a country
— JM Fuller (@legsrlong) June 23, 2017
Another swamp creature jumps into the crowded, rancid pool.
— Randy Bowser (@randybowser) June 23, 2017
This is awful Don. But your dad just invited Al Baldasaro to WH today. He wanted Clinton shot. Consistency is good for all.
— Old Rant Dump (@TrumpinTheShark) June 23, 2017
Ironically, and despite Spicer’s statement, Donald Trump is currently being sued for inciting violence at his campaign rallies. As Fox News reports, a judge ruled back in April that a lawsuit brought against the POTUS by protesters bodily ejected and injured from a Trump rally can proceed. According to the judge, Trump’s words to his supporters as they were pushing and shoving the plaintiffs from the rally could have been the “direct and proximate cause” of their injuries.
“It is plausible that Trump’s direction to ‘get ’em out of here’ advocated the use of force.”
BEFORE the election & THE HATE Continues. Trump named in lawsuit… ACCUSED OF INCITING VIOLENCE … You are outta gas pic.twitter.com/gGVgQeP4Ie
— Shay Parker (@Shaybird49) June 18, 2017
When White House Press Secretary Spicer was asked about the appropriateness of Al Baldasaro’s presence at Friday’s event, Spicer claimed ignorance of the past Clinton-shooting comments made by Al Baldasaro. He did, however, condemn all comments advocating violence.
“I don’t believe, and the president has said this as well, that anybody that goes out and tries to highlight those kinds of actions, should not be welcome. I’m not aware of the comments [Baldasaro] made, but again, I’ll say it right now, I don’t think we should be resorting that kind of language with anyone in our country.”
Trump has yet to comment on the presence of Al Baldasaro at Friday’s bill signing.
[Featured Image by Richard Drew/AP Images]