As part of his plot to “kill almost every last person on the earth,” authorities say a U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant and self-identified white nationalist compiled a hit list of prominent politicians and cable TV journalists.
Christopher Paul Hasson was taken into custody on Friday after federal investigators uncovered a cache of weapons and ammunition in his Maryland home. Hasson had been stockpiling the supplies since at least 2017, according to court documents, and had developed a spreadsheet with his alleged targets.
Among them was former congressman Joe Scarborough (R-Fla.), who now co-hosts an MSNBC show and has been a target of President Trump’s disdain. The list also included two of Scarborough’s MSNBC colleagues, hosts Chris Hayes and Ari Melber, and CNN’s Don Lemon, Chris Cuomo and Van Jones.
Since he took office, Trump has regularly called the work of mainstream journalism organizations “fake news” and accused political journalists, without evidence, of dishonest reporting. He has often referred to journalists as the “enemy of the people.”
Trump revived the enemy line on Wednesday, criticizing a New York Times report that said he asked then-acting attorney general, Matthew G. Whitaker, whether a perceived loyalist could be put in charge of an investigation into hush money paid to women during the 2016 campaign. “The New York Times reporting is false,” Trump said in a morning tweet. “They are a true ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!”
Hasson created his list of “traitors” and targets on Jan. 19, authorities said, two days after he conducted a series of Internet searches:
8:54 a.m.: “what if trump illegally impeached”
8:57 a.m.: “best place in dc to see congress people”
8:58 a.m.: “where in dc to congress live”
10:39 a.m.: “civil war if trump impeached”
11:26 a.m.: “social democrats usa”
“It’s exactly what Donald Trump is encouraging,” Scarborough said during his show Thursday morning while addressing Hasson’s alleged plot.
This is the second time in recent months that prominent politicians, Trump critics and TV journalists have been targeted by domestic terrorists. In the fall, a 56-year-old Florida man was charged with sending 13 homemade pipe bombs to Hillary Clinton, former president Barack Obama, CNN and others.
Journalists around the world face constant threats and dangers: 88 journalists and media workers were killed in 2018, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. That includes five people at the Capital newspaper in Annapolis, Md., who were gunned down less than a year ago.
This is how some of the cable TV hosts on Hasson’s alleged list have reacted so far:
“We are all safe, and we thank the Coast Guard and law enforcement for stopping this in time. But we need to talk about why. Once again, critics of the president are being targeted with violence. . . . These things don’t happen in a vacuum. The president’s words matter. Just look at the suspect’s list of targets.”
Chris Cuomo, CNN, talking to Anderson Cooper on Feb. 20
According to Yahoo: “This is scary. This is something that the people who get named, we have to deal with, especially with our family, because while we accept it as just the nature of the world we live in these days, my brother, this is very scary to the people and the little ones at home. So we’ve got to deal with that.”
“Remember when one of the president’s most devoted, obsessed fans tried to murder like 20 of the president’s most prominent political foes?”
“ . . . Just a crazed right-wing nut with an enormous cache of weapons and a hit list of media personalities and prominent Democrats.”
“Donald Trump has been warned repeatedly that talking about enemies of the people is a Stalinist phrase, that it will encourage some of his more unhinged followers . . . ”
“We’ve all known that Donald Trump and his words and his attacks about enemies of the people would lead to this type of behavior. This is now the second time that we know about, from the pipe bombs to yesterday, but yesterday was obviously far more specific, far more dangerous. And you know, it’s exactly what Donald Trump is encouraging.”