Donald Trump appeared to threaten a former mid-level Department of Homeland Security official who two years ago penned an opinion article under the alias “Anonymous” criticising the president, who on Thursday said “bad things are going to happen” to Miles Taylor.
“There should be major criminal liability for some scum like this ... He should be prosecuted. Are you listening to me back in Washington? He should be prosecuted,” the president said in a message to his own Justice Department. "Along with the New York Times."
“Bad things are going to happen to him,” he added of Mr Taylor, who has been roundly criticised for panning his former boss while playing a role in the Trump administration’s migrant child separation programme.
Mr Trump’s threat is questionable, however. He has fired others who crossed him, including some who testified in House Democrats’ impeachment hearings.
But Mr Taylor has left the government, leaving Mr Trump few options.
The whistleblower responded in real-time after saying during a Wednesday night CNN interview he did not reveal himself for financial gain.
“The state of open dissent in America: the president derides critics as ‘traitors’ and ‘treasonous’; threatens to ‘prosecute’ & ‘lock them up’; and ominously warns ‘bad things’ will happen to them. Is this who we are?” Mr Taylor tweeted.
The president also boasted about his coronavirus response, saying up to 2 million people might have died in the United States. With cases and deaths rising quickly once again, that could still happen.
He again downplayed the severity of the virus: “If I can get better anybody can get better,” he said of his own bout with Covid-19 that landed him in a Washington DC-area military facility for parts of four days.
On “Anonymous,” the president back in September 2018 vowed to find the author, who described themselves as a then-current official who was part of a "two-track" government, with Mr Trump doing his own thing while rank-and-file employees did another. "The dilemma – which (Trump) does not fully grasp – is that many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations," Mr Taylor wrote under the alias. "I would know. I am one of them."
"But we believe our first duty is to this country, and the president continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic," the no-longer-anonymous author wrote in 2018. "That is why many Trump appointees have vowed to do what we can to preserve our democratic institutions while thwarting Mr Trump's more misguided impulses until he is out of office."
On Wednesday night, a rally crowd in Goodyear, Arizona, cheered as Mr Trump called Mr Taylor a “sleazebag.”
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