Donald Trump on Sunday morning went after potential general election rival Bernie Sanders by calling him a liar and indicated he might soon instruct his own supporters to attend Sanders’ rallies in order to foment disruption and discord among his progressive (aka “super-liberal”) base.
In a tweet, Trump declared:
Bernie Sanders is lying when he says his disruptors aren’t told to go to my events. Be careful Bernie, or my supporters will go to yours!
The social media salvo followed a chaotic cancellation of Trump rally in Chicago that turned violent on Friday and images of protesters being pepper-sprayed by police outside a rally in Kansas City on Saturday night. With waves of criticisms against Trump reverberating over the weekend for the role he’s played in ginning up tensions, any expectations or hopes that the Republican presidential candidate would make efforts to tamp down the palpable tensions were dashed rather immediately.
In fact, the near opposite happened as Trump refused to accept any responsibility for the acrimony, defending the behavior of his supporters, and projecting blame on others by accusing the Sanders of “organizing” the protests.
At a rally in Cleveland on Saturday, Trump charged that Friday’s protests in Chicago were directed by the Sanders’ campaign, an assertion the Sanders’ camp immediately denied and which no evidence exists to support.
“As is the case virtually every day, Donald Trump is showing the American people that he is a pathological liar,” Sanders said in a statement on Saturday. Though it was clear that many protesters in Chicago were, in fact, vocal Sanders’ supporters, far more appeared only unified by their opposition to Trump’s political message and campaign rhetoric.
“I don’t think our supporters are inciting. What our supporters are doing is responding to a candidate who has, in fact, in many ways, encouraged violence,” Sanders said during a Saturday press conference in Chicago.”When he talks about: ‘I wish we were in the old days when you could punch somebody in the head.’ What do you think that says to his supporters?”
Appearing on CNN’s State of the Union with Jake Tapper on Sunday morning, Trump said that he is quite serious about issuing orders so that his supporters would go and confront people at Sanders’ rallies.
“It’s not a threat, it’s not a threat. It’s not a threat at all!” Trump declared when asked by Tapper about the tweeted message. “My people have said we ought to go to his rallies, when liberals and super-liberals, I don’t even call ‘em liberals… These people are bad people that are looking to do harm to our country. These people come into mine … They’re being arrested and all sorts of things are happening to them. There’s a horrible thing going on in the media. We are treated so unfairly, and I’m treated so unfairly.”
Separately on Saturday, Trump said he is now considering pressing charges against those who would protest or disrupt his events in the future. “I hope they arrest these people, because honestly they should be,” Trump told supporters referring to a new wave of protesters at the rally in Kansas City on Saturday night. “The only way to stop the craziness is to press charges.”