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Paranoia, Thy Name Is ‘Morning Joe’

Scarborough frets Trump's 'treasonous' comment on Dem lawmakers may spark 'violence' from 'unhinged' POTUS backers

MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” co-host, Joe Scarborough, claimed Tuesday that President Donald Trump may have inspired “unhinged” followers to commit “violence” against Democratic lawmakers he called “treasonous” after they didn’t stand or applaud during his State of the Union address.

“Yesterday the president suggested the Democrats were ‘treasonous’ for not standing when he was at the State of the Union,” Scarborough said Tuesday morning. “But there are people that have no guardrails, and they hear this from a leader and violence can happen.”

“You have a president of the United States that is using the word ‘treason,’ which is punishable by death under the U.S. Code,” Scarborough said. “And obviously there are fears of what that may lead some of [Trump’s] more unhinged followers to do.”

Scarborough, a former Republican congressman from Florida and an increasingly hyperbolic Trump critic, rejected the president’s characterization of sullen Democrats as “like death and un-American” in rejecting his calls for bipartisanship and unity.

“Somebody said ‘treasonous.’ I mean, yeah, I guess, why not? Can we call that treason? Why not?” Trump said. “I mean, they certainly didn’t seem to love our country that much.”

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Although Scarborough admitted there are “unhinged followers on both sides of the political aisle,” he said that Trump’s “treasonous” comments follow a pattern of potentially violence-inducing comments from the president.

“It’s just like when [Trump] calls the media ‘enemies of the people’ or when he suggests that congressmen must be stopped. ‘Must be stopped,’ I think that was in a tweet yesterday — only a couple of months after an unhinged liberal shot the Republican majority whip.”

Related: State of the Union Was Trump’s ‘We’ vs. Obama’s ‘I’

Scarborough spoke of Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), who was shot and critically injured during a GOP lawmakers’ baseball practice in June 2017. The shooter was James Hodgkinson, a liberal activist and supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.).

Noting that lawmakers sometimes can “take insults to a pretty low level” themselves, Scarborough said Trump’s “treasonous” remark hit a new low by potentially inciting violence.

“But it is highly unusual for the president of the United States and his office to suggest that the opposing party is ‘treasonous’ because they do what every opposing party has done at State of the Unions for as long as there have been State of the Unions,” Scarborough said.

White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley told NBC News on Tuesday that Trump was being “tongue in cheek” when he dubbed Democrats “treasonous” for refusing to stand and applaud on some clearly bipartisan issues.

PoliZette writer Kathryn Blackhurst can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter.

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PoliZette writer Kathryn Blackhurst can be reached at [email protected].