Trump's assassination innuendo should disqualify him from presidency

As Donald Trump's strategists try to soften his image, he has taken his assault against Hillary Clinton to a new level with a bizarre suggestion that would make her more vulnerable to violence from opponents, specifically fervent supporters of the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

Mr. Trump's lies are bad enough, such as his recent blatantly false charge that Ms. Clinton was the source and origin of his own "birther" conspiracy theory about Barack Obama. But Mr. Trump has outdone himself by suggesting that Ms. Clinton's Secret Service bodyguards should disarm themselves, which could leave her more vulnerable to assassination attempts.


At a rally in Miami more than a week ago, Mr. Trump said this: "I think that her bodyguards should drop all weapons. I think that they should disarm, immediately. Let's see what happens to her. Take the guns away, OK. It'll be very dangerous."

Many in the crowd applauded and cheered, according to a New York Times report. Mr. Trump made the comment in the context of saying Ms. Clinton was out to "destroy your Second Amendment," a charge she has denied.


In a speech in August in Wilmington, N.C., Mr. Trump warned: "If she gets to pick her judges (to the Supreme Court), nothing you can do, folks," implying those she would nominate would vote to overturn the individual constitutional right to bear arms.

Then Mr. Trump ominously added, "Although the Second Amendment people ... maybe there is, I don't know."

The latter incomplete comment seemed to imply that such defenders of the right to bear arms might somehow take the matter into their own hands.

Mr. Trump also has written on Twitter: "Crooked Hillary wants to get rid of all guns, and yet she is surrounded by bodyguards who are fully armed. No more guns to protect Hillary."

The Secret Service is required by law to offer protection to all major-party presidential nominees. After the 1968 assassination of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Robert F. Kennedy of New York, Congress also authorized such armed protection for other specified candidates.

Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign manager, Robby Mook, responded to Mr. Trump's observations by saying he was again showing "a pattern of inciting people to violence." Indeed, Mr. Trump has urged supporters to get rough with protesters at his political rallies, saying of one protester, "I'd like to punch him in the face," to cheers from the crowd.

But Mr. Trump's insinuation that Ms. Clinton's armed Secret Service protection should be removed, while he has had armed bodyguards in his hire at his own rallies, is mind-bogglingly provocative and beyond the pale of political discourse.

At a minimum, the National Rifle Association, a principal Trump backer and organizational proponent of individual Americans arming themselves, should repudiate Mr. Trump's flippant, unbelievably mean-spirited proposal. But my request for a reaction from an NRA spokesperson has gone unheeded.


Maybe this sinister notion was just another line Mr. Trump believes he can pass off as harmless "sarcasm." That has been his usual way of defending other dangerous and offensive remarks he has made in reference to others all over the spectrum of American society.

Earlier this summer, Mr. Trump said he hoped Russian agents had hacked into Hillary Clinton's controversial email server and would share what they found. He referred to President Obama as the "founder" of the Islamic State. Called on such statements, he said: "Obviously, I'm being sarcastic — but not that sarcastic, to be honest with you." And he tweeted of his critics: "DON'T THEY GET SARCASM?"

This is the man who offers himself to lead a great country committed by tradition, history and culture to equality and life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. After all his insults, disrespect, threats and bigotry, which long ago should have disqualified him from the presidency, this latest call for withdrawing bodily protection from his duly nominated political competitor is not sarcasm.

It's the ultimate outrage — and yet another reason why Mr. Trump must be denied the Oval Office, by the will of the people, on Nov. 8.

Jules Witcover is a syndicated columnist and former long-time writer for The Baltimore Sun. His latest book is "The American Vice Presidency: From Irrelevance to Power" (Smithsonian Books). His email is