Two allies and former political advisers of President Donald Trump are hinting at the prospect of election-related violence, injecting a new level of turbulence in a stormy political climate.
Trump’s long-time friend and adviser Roger Stone, calling into the conspiracy website Infowars on Sept. 10, said Trump should use “martial law” to stay in office or invoke the Insurrection Act if he doesn’t win. Stone, whose sentence for seven felony crimes was commuted by the President in July, also said Republicans should physically block ballots from being counted.
Michael Caputo, who worked on Trump’s 2016 campaign and is now a public affairs adviser for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), said in a Facebook Live video on Sunday that violence was coming. He predicted without evidence that Trump’s opponent, Democratic nominee Joe Biden, would refuse to concede if Trump wins. Violence, he said, would follow.
“When Donald Trump refuses to stand down at the inauguration, the shooting will begin,” Caputo said. “If you carry guns, buy ammunition, ladies and gentlemen, because it’s going to be hard to get.” Caputo, who has no scientific or medical background, also wrongly accused government scientists of sedition and said there was a “resistance unit” within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (He later apologized for his comments.) The longtime political strategist, who has prior no public health or medical experience, has previously attempted to interfere with public health data related to the coronavirus pandemic, Politico reported. HHS announced Wednesday that Caputo is taking a “leave of absence to focus on his health,” and Caputo’s top aide Dr. Paul Alexander, who also reportedly meddled with weekly scientific reports, is leaving the department permanently.