Speaking to Fox News on Monday, Donald Trump briefly, for a moment, if you squint real hard, said the kind of thing you might want him to say when his supporters are carrying out violence against federal officials and openly promoting another civil war. “The temperature has to be brought down in the country,” Trump told the network. “If it isn’t, terrible things are going to happen.”
Take that soundbite in isolation — then subtract all of Trump’s baseless allegations about “witch hunts” and FBI agents “planting” evidence at his Mar-a-Lago home — and it approximates something a real leader might say at a moment of great turmoil. But despite Fox News’s own efforts to frame it as such, neither Trump nor his allies have demonstrated any real interest in cooling the climate. “No one ever thought a thing like this would happen,” Trump said in that very same interview, describing the legal search warrant FBI agents executed to recover highly-sensitive materials he’d improperly taken as a “sneak attack.” He added: “People are so angry at what is taking place.”
Putting those falsehoods aside, and ignoring Trump’s Truth Social feed, where he’s continued to frame his mounting legal troubles as political “ABUSE” by law enforcement, some of Trump’s allies have echoed the former president’s vaguely conciliatory remarks.
“Maybe for the first time in his life, Donald Trump seems sincerely interested in lowering the temperature,” Tucker Carlson said Monday evening. “Not just for his own sake, but for the country’s.”
“This could get very bad, very fast, and the Biden people know that perfectly well,” Carlson continued. “They know what can happen if they continue down this path of using law enforcement to cling to power, but they don’t care, because they’re facing a repudiation from voters and they’re desperate, and they’ll do anything, but at what cost?”
There, in the latter half of Carlson’s comments, is the rub. Trump and his cronies aren’t committing to bringing down the temperature. Instead, they want it “brought down” by the “corrupt” and “radical” Democrats who have supposedly sicced the FBI on Trump and will soon, they say, start coming down on his supporters, too. “Pray they pull back before it’s too late,” Carlson said Monday night.
It was somewhat disturbing to see Carlson, normally a gleeful agitator, recognizing that the country could be facing “something unprecedented, something awful.” But that acknowledgement makes his blame-shifting all the more despicable. The source of the threat is clear: It’s not Joe Biden or Merrick Garland or the warranted investigation into Trump’s potential violations of the Espionage Act; it’s Trump and his allies, who have recklessly played on the passions of his most ardent supporters in the days since the search. Baseless allegations. Deranged references to the Gestapo. Absolutely unhinged rants from the likes of Donald Trump Jr., who has adopted the speaking cadence in his calls to stop the “fascist” Democrats before they turn America into a “dictatorship.”