Donald Trump has been known to have some unusual fears. The Republican's fear of germs, for example, is something he's publicly acknowledged. He also doesn’t appear to be especially fond of stairs.
What we did not know, however, is that the former president also apparently has some concerns about killer produce. The Washington Post summarized matters nicely:
Former president Donald Trump said he feared protesters would hit him with tomatoes, pineapples and other “very dangerous” fruit at his campaign rallies, declaring in a sworn deposition that “you can be killed if that happens.”
Alas, that’s not at all an exaggeration. In a sworn deposition last fall, Trump was asked about comments he made at a 2016 campaign rally. As part of his general embrace of violence as a campaign tool, the then-candidate told a group of supporters at the time, “[I]f you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of him, would you? Seriously.... I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees; I promise, I promise.”
Reflecting on comments like these, the Republican said he and his campaign team “were threatened” by opponents who were preparing to possibly throw fruit at him. “We were told, I thought the Secret Service was involved in that, actually,” he said. "But we were told. And you get hit with fruit, it’s — no, it’s very violent stuff. We were on alert for that.”
As Rachel noted at the top of the show last night, this back and forth continued for a while. Trump repeatedly described the throwing of tomatoes as “very dangerous,” adding, “You can get killed with those things.” There was no indication that he was kidding.
Asked whether it was his expectation that his security team should also be prepared to “knock the crap out of” possible tomato-throwers, the former president replied, “Well, a tomato, a pineapple, a lot of other things they throw. Yeah, if the security saw that, I would say you have to — and it’s not just me, it’s other people in the audience get badly hurt. Yeah, I think that they have to be aggressive in stopping that from happening. Because if that happens, you can be killed if that happens.”
Asked if getting “aggressive” might include the use of physical force, Trump added, “To stop somebody from throwing pineapples, tomatoes, bananas, stuff like that, yeah, it’s dangerous stuff.”
In case readers are thinking this is satirical, and these are made-up quotes to make Trump appear foolish, I can assure you that this is quite real. I’m literally quoting the official court transcript of the sworn testimony.
And why, pray tell, was the former president giving a sworn deposition in which he expressed sincere fears about killer produce? Well, that’s the part of this story that’s not at all funny.
As regular readers may recall, a few months after the Republican launched his national campaign, a small group of activists held a protest outside Trump’s New York office. Those same activists have alleged that they were violently assaulted by the candidate’s security guards, including Trump’s longtime bodyguard, Keith Schiller, who allegedly punched a protester in the head while trying to wrest away his “Make America racist again” sign.
According to the plaintiffs, while the former president did not directly participate in the altercation, he bears legal responsibility for the actions of his employees.
During his time in office, Trump’s lawyers said he was too busy to answer questions about the case and made multiple attempts at having the case dismissed. Those efforts failed, and in mid-October 2021, at the direction of a New York judge, the former president grudgingly sat down for a deposition.
It’s what led to the line of inquiry about Trump directing people — including members of his security team — to get “aggressive” with at least some protestors. It’s also, evidently, what led the Republican to testify about his concerns about “dangerous” produce that could kill people.
As for the specific 2015 incident at issue in this case, Trump denied under oath knowing anything about the confrontation, but as NBC News reported, Michael Cohen, the former president’s former attorney, said Trump actually ordered the confrontation.
It’s a safe bet we haven’t heard the last of this one. Watch this space.