New York: A New York man upset with what he perceived as Donald Trump’s threats to democracy was criminally charged on Tuesday AEST with threatening to kill the former US president, who he once referred to as Hitler.
Prosecutors said the defendant, Thomas Welnicki, 72, of Rockaway Beach, threatened to do “everything I can” to ensure the death of Trump, and once inquired about Secret Service protection for former presidents and their children.
President Donald Trump in 2018, before later being impeached in the House twice. Credit:AP
The case was brought as the Republican former president continues pressing false claims that widespread voting fraud caused him to lose re-election to Democrat Joe Biden.
Welnicki was charged with threatening to kill, kidnap, and inflict bodily harm on Trump.
“Mr Welnicki intended no harm to anyone,” his lawyer Deirdre von Dornum, attorney-in-charge of the federal defender’s office in Brooklyn, said in an email. “He was expressing how distraught he was at what he saw as the threats to our democracy posed by former President Trump.”
Lawyers and spokespeople for Trump did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Prosecutors said Welnicki expressed interest in Trump’s demise between July 2020 and December 2021, during and after Trump’s presidency, in several voluntary communications with US Capitol Police and the Secret Service.
Welnicki allegedly told Capitol Police in a July 2020 interview that if Trump lost the election and refused to step down, he would “acquire weapons” and “take him down”.
Prosecutors said Welnicki called the Secret Service around January 4, 2021, threatening to kill Trump and 12 unnamed congressional supporters, and referring to a $US350,000 bounty.
“I will do anything I can to take out (Trump) and his 12 monkeys,” Welnicki was quoted as saying. “Tomorrow (Trump) will be in Georgia, maybe I will.”
Trump visited Georgia that day to campaign for two incumbent Republican senators who sought unsuccessfully to win re-election and keep the US Senate under Republican control.
Two days later, on January 6, 2021, Trump supporters assaulted the US Capitol in a failed bid to overturn the presidential election results.
The complaint said Welnicki’s threats continued in the autumn of 2021, when he likened Trump to Adolf Hitler and referred to Trump’s children.
He also allegedly told the Secret Service on December 2, 2021, that “the new Civil War could break out and taking up arms against the government is justified when ballots don’t matter”.
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