Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is defending recent comments once again. This time, Trump is blaming the media for spinning his statements out of control.
During a North Carolina rally Tuesday, Trump told supporters that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton plans to take away the Second Amendment right to bear arms. Then he insinuated what many have taken to believe to be a veiled threat at possible assassination. “Hillary wants to…essentially abolish the Second Amendment,” he said. “…If she gets to pick her judges, [there’s] nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.”
Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook issued a brief statement about Trump’s comments. “This is simple,” he wrote. “[W]hat Trump is saying is dangerous. A person seeking to be President of the United States should not suggest violence in any way.” In an unprecedented move, the Secret Service took to its Twitter page to write the following statement: “The Secret Service is aware of the comments made earlier this afternoon.”
Trump, meanwhile, has brushed off such concerns. During a Fox News interview with Sean Hannity, Trump agreed with Hannity’s assumption that Trump’s statement was merely a way to get those who hold the Second Amendment dear to vote for him in November.
“It was amazing because nobody in that room thought anything other than what you just said,” said Trump. “…I mean, give me a break…What it is, is there’s a tremendous power behind the Second Amendment. It’s a political power and…there are few things so powerful, I have to say, in terms of politics.”
However, a former Secret Service official told TIMEthat Trump’s comments could be considered a “veiled threat” and if it were them, they would have a conversation with someone from Trump’s campaign to see if the candidate actually understands the consequences his words can have.
“Look, this guy is coming close to the edge,” they said, also telling TIME that the Secret Service should consider interviewing Trump about his statement. Interviewing individuals who have made such statements threatening a public official are part of Secret Service protocol.
Trump’s statement has led to several journalists urging those in their field to get even tougher on Trump and his campaign. Former news anchor Dan Rather wrote a statement on his Facebook page. “To anyone who still pretends this is a normal election of Republican against Democrat, history is watching,” he wrote. “And I suspect its verdict will be harsh.”
MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post begging the GOP to “dump Trump.” Scarborough stated that the Secret Service should certainly interview Trump about his statement and that House Speaker Paul Ryan and other prominent GOP leaders should denounce Trump, revoke their endorsements, and seek options to remove him as the nominee. “A bloody line has been crossed that cannot be ignored,” he wrote. “At long last, Donald Trump has left the Republican Party few options but to act decisively and get this political train wreck off the tracks before something terrible happens.”