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American Opinion: After Mar-a-Lago, Republican Party must stop attacks on federal law enforcement

From the editorial: Questioning law enforcement is fair game. We have seen far more than that this month. ... The politics of violence must be soundly rejected, beginning with those who so willingly incite it.

Local law enforcement officers are seen in front of the home of former President Donald Trump at Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida on Aug. 9, 2022.
Local law enforcement officers are seen in front of the home of former President Donald Trump at Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida on Aug. 9, 2022. S)
Giorgio Viera/AFP/TNS
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In the days after the FBI served a warrant to search former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, the language of protest crossed into conspiracy theories, as well as veiled and direct threats against federal law enforcement officials.

American Opinion
American Opinion
Tribune graphic / Forum News Service
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Threats are not free speech. And rhetoric calculated to incite outrage based on false, incendiary claims and comments aimed at demonizing federal law enforcement is damaging to this country.

Immediately after the search, Trump casually suggested that the FBI might have planted evidence, a baseless claim that some Republican politicians repeated and amplified. We saw elected officials compare the FBI’s legal execution of a search warrant to a Gestapo raid or called for defunding or destroying the FBI. The swill mill of social media promoted calls for a civil war and armed rebellion.

A number of Republicans responsibly pushed back against that rhetoric over the weekend. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, a retired FBI agent from Pennsylvania, urged restraint, saying correctly that there needs to be time for the facts to come out. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson reminded his party that it has long called for support of law enforcement.

According to the FBI, threats against law enforcement, the judiciary and government are on par with those made in the weeks before and after the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol, and include a threat to “place a so-called dirty bomb in front of FBI headquarters.”

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Last week, a person with a nail gun and an assault-style weapon attacked an FBI office in Cincinnati and armed Trump supporters gathered in protest outside the FBI office in Phoenix. The attacker in Cincinnati wrote on Trump’s social media app, Truth Social, that he was angry about the search at Mar-a-Lago, adding that “Violence is not (all) terrorism” and “Kill the F.B.I. on sight.”

Such threats put hard-working government employees and their families at great risk.

Conservative media outlet Breitbart recklessly published a version of the Mar-a-Lago search warrant that named the FBI special agent and supervisor agent who signed receipts for boxes of highly classified documents that may have included national security and nuclear information seized from Trump’s home.

The dangers to our democracy and to the safety of FBI employees are real. Trump and other politicians must dial down incendiary rhetoric.

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Trump told Fox News Digital on Monday that he “will do whatever” he can “to help the country,” adding that the “temperature has to be brought down.” Action must follow those words if they are to have serious meaning.

Questioning law enforcement is fair game. We have seen far more than that this month.

Too many who should know better would undermine support in our entire justice system. Others, meanwhile, are lending voice and support to those who threaten the federal agents and prosecutors who have devoted their service to this nation. That is totally unacceptable.

The politics of violence must be soundly rejected, beginning with those who so willingly incite it.

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This American Opinion editorial is the view of the Dallas Morning News Editorial Board.

©2022 The Dallas Morning News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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