Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump thanks veteran Al Baldasaro after he addressed the media during a speech on Veteran affairs in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, May 31, 2016.
Photo by Jason Szenes/EPA

Trump adviser endorses violence against Hillary Clinton

After Donald Trump called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” New Hampshire state Rep. Al Baldasaro (R), the co-chair of Trump’s state veterans coalition, did his best to defend the candidate’s proposal. “What he’s saying is no different than the situation during World War II,” Baldasaro said, “when we put the Japanese in camps.”
The New Hampshire Republican intended this as a defense.
And while those comments certainly made a stir, the Republican activist’s latest tirade is probably even more noteworthy. The Boston Globe reports today:
A New Hampshire state representative who advises Donald Trump on veterans’ issues called Tuesday for Hillary Clinton to be “put in the firing line and shot for treason” for her handling of the Benghazi terror attack.
Appearing on WRKO radio from the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, state Representative Al Baldasaro, a Londonderry Republican, called the presumptive Democratic nominee “a piece of garbage.”
Note, Baldasaro’s comments, which are obviously indefensible, are built entirely around conspiracy theories surrounding Benghazi – all of which congressional Republicans have already debunked.
Some might be thinking the New Hampshire Republican lost his cool on a radio show, but after having time to cool down and regain his composure, he’ll realize he went too far. But in Baldasaro’s case, that’s not true: the Boston Globe followed up with him today, and the Trump adviser said he stood by his comments “without a doubt.”
After complaining about Clinton’s email server protocols, Baldasaro told the newspaper, “I stand by what I said.” He added, “Freedom of speech is a beautiful thing. I spoke my mind about how I feel.”
And while it’s true that freedom of speech is a beautiful thing, when Americans call for the death of a presidential candidate, it tends to invite Secret Service scrutiny. Because while Baldasaro certainly has the right to “speak his mind,” the First Amendment doesn’t give people the right to encourage the assassination of American political leaders.
In November, Donald Trump personally referred to Baldasaro as his “favorite vet.” Whether his campaign will distance itself from Baldasaro’s call for anti-Clinton violence is unclear.
Stepping back, it’s been quite a week for Republican rhetoric, hasn’t it? Some in the party are ready to incarcerate Clinton and convict her in a show trial, while others are prepared to skip ahead to the execution.
Postscript: Baldasaro is the third GOP official in the last five days to call for violence against Hillary Clinton, following related comments from Republicans in West Virginia and Ohio.

[Correction: I’d originally referenced GOP officials in “West Virginia and New Jersey,” but the latter referred to a story out of Ohio. The above text has been changed accordingly.]