Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis listens as President Trump speaks during a Cabinet meeting at the White House on Nov. 1. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

For weeks, Fox News and far-right pundits have been working overtime to discredit the FBI and special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference in the U.S. 2016 presidential election. Fox contributors have suggested that a “coup” could be in the works against the administration.

But on Tuesday, the criticism hurtled across an even more extreme line, when Fox News contributor Kevin Jackson suggested the FBI might have had plans to assassinate President Trump. It’s a conspiracy theory that has already been percolating on the extreme fringe, the petri dish for much of the “deep state” rhetoric. And Jackson’s comments on are a case study of how fringe whispers can quickly slip into prime time cable.

Jackson was making an appearance Tuesday afternoon on Fox News’s “Outnumbered.” Flanked by four regular Fox guests, Jackson was talking about text messages sent by FBI agent Peter Strzok, who later joined Mueller’s team, worrying about Trump’s candidacy and mentioning an “insurance policy” against a Trump presidency. As the discussion kicked off, the panel chewed over the implications.

“Well, I think they’re going to say, is it — what was his intent, right?” Jackson said with reference to Strzok, who was removed from Mueller’s investigation. “Because that’s exactly what FBI Director, former FBI director Comey said when he was letting Hillary Clinton off the hook. And his intent, regardless of whether it was an assassination attempt or whatever, it was definitely something.”

The reference to assassination stopped the other hosts in their tracks.

“Whoa,” host Harris Faulkner interjected. “Whoa, whoa.”

“Well, I’m just saying, we don’t know what it was,” Jackson barreled on. “When you say, ‘we’ve got to make sure that this guy doesn’t get in at all cost,’ what does that mean? So I’m saying there’s a spectrum of what does it mean, but one thing that we know for sure, is that he was plotting in an election against a candidate, and there’s FBI fingerprints all over this.”

Faulkner jumped in to clarify: “Because I know how things get clipped on social media, I just want to make sure that we press on the fact that no one has floated any sort of an idea that it was –”

“Oh, it’s been floated,” Jackson cut in. “When I talk about this, I’m talking about social media stuff and, you know, that’s out there, I’m not talking about media sources.”

“Nothing credible,” another guest interjected.

“Well,” Jackson replied sheepishly. “I mean, yeah.”

Jackson describes himself as a “bestselling author, syndicated talk show host, nationally known speaker, former management consultant, and a rising star in political circles” who uses his “rapier wit and satirical writing style” to expose “the fleecing of America.” He is “regarded by some as the valedictorian of the latest class of political pundits,” says the website for “KevinJackson radio.”

By his own admission, Jackson’s fears of assassination came from “social media stuff.” But the Fox News commentator was picking up on a frequency beamed out only a day before by InfoWars’s Alex Jones. On his Monday radio show (a show Trump has appeared on), the far right ranter took aim at “the Clintons and their operatives in the FBI” before issuing a dire prediction.

“I think they’re going to go ahead and make their move to kill the president,” Jones said. “I think in the next 30 days, I think they’re going to make an assassination attempt. I just — my gut — I see all of them together, they’re that desperate. They’re either going to give up or they’re going to activate their cells.”

Jones continued: “I don’t want the president to be killed, but if they are dumb enough to actually do it, boy, they have sealed their warrant of death. They have guaranteed that they are all gonna probably never even see court. They’re playing chicken with people that are ready to mash down the accelerator, cause I know I’m mashing it down. I’m pointing my car right at the nose of theirs, so is Trump, that’s the spirit.”

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