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Trump’s call for mass protest was a flop. But a different kind of threat is taking shape instead.

The immediate aftermath of the former president’s indictments settles one big part of an existential question for our country.


A former leader does not snap his fingers and command a nationwide uprising in his or her name. Even in our country, where Donald Trump promised that would happen if he was indicted, the effort failed. The dog did not bark.

And so that sort of settles one big part of this existential question for our country, our democracy, and our form of government: Will we be able to survive bringing criminal charges against this particular alleged criminal given his political power and his hold on his followers? Will we be able to try a man for his alleged crimes without riots in the streets, without the threat of civil war?

Turns out, yes — yes, we can. Despite what he promised to do, Trump could not pull it off, which is good news for our democracy.

Do we really expect big street protests on behalf of Trump? I think we don’t.

The bad news is that we’re getting something else instead. Not mass violence again like we saw on Jan. 6, 2021, or even mass protest. What we are getting instead are individual acts — both violence and threats of violence by radicalized people and groups. 

We saw it last year when a man who was enraged by the Mar-a-Lago search warrant tried to shoot his way into an Ohio FBI office and was then killed in a standoff with police outside Cincinnati.

We saw it earlier this month when another armed man was shot and killed by the FBI — this time, in Utah — when they served a search warrant on him in response to his threats to kill President Joe Biden and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who brought the first indictment against Trump.

Last week, a Massachusetts man pleaded guilty in federal court to sending bomb threats after the 2020 election to Katie Hobbs, who was the Democratic secretary of state in Arizona at the time and is now the state’s governor.

Also last week, a woman in Alvin, Texas, was arrested for allegedly phoning in a death threat to the chambers of the judge who is overseeing the federal election interference case against Trump. The woman admitted to threatening to kill the federal judge as well as Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, according to authorities. The woman said she did not intend to go to Washington, D.C., to carry out her death threat against the judge. The criminal complaint says she told federal agents that “if Sheila Jackson Lee comes to Alvin, then we need to worry.” 

And, of course, there’s all the news from Fulton County, Georgia, where pro-Trump online message boards have circulated names and purported addresses, phone numbers and photos of the grand jurors who handed down the Trump indictment in Georgia. This prompted the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office to announce it was investigating threats made against the grand jurors. That soon gave way to the news that the FBI would be joining the investigation and that the sheriff himself was being threatened, with those threats now under investigation, too.

Security had to be increased around Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis because of threats against her. CNN reported on Monday that sheriff’s office employees and their homes are being threatened. 

Now, the sheriff’s office has announced a “total lockdown” of the area surrounding Fulton County jail for when Trump surrenders himself and gets booked, which the former president says will happen on Thursday. But honestly, at this point, do we really expect big street protests on behalf of Trump? I think we don’t. I think that dog has not barked. We don’t expect big street protests on his behalf, but we expect terrorism — or at least terroristic threats, like the ones that have been breaking out all over the country like heat rash.

So what do we do with that as a country? It’s a wild context in which to be pursuing politics, but here we are. Watch this space.

This is an excerpt from Monday's episode of "The Rachel Maddow Show." It has been slightly edited for length and clarity.