A former top official in the US Department of Justice has condemned Republican Senator Lindsey Graham for suggesting there would be “riots in the streets” if former President Donald Trump is prosecuted in connection to a trove of sensitive US government documents recovered from his Mar-a-Lago resort.
Former Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary McCord appeared on CNN’s New Day to criticise what she calls a “veiled threat” made by Mr Graham.
“I think it’s incredibly irresponsible for an elected official to basically make veiled threats of violence, just if law enforcement and the Department of Justice and a grand jury does their job,” she said.
Mr Graham appeared on Fox News’ Sunday Night in America, during which he said the former president was being held to a “double standard” when compared for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the controversy over her private email server.
He warned the hosts that “if there’s a prosecution of Donald Trump for mishandling classified information … there’ll be riots in the streets.”
Mr Trump shared Mr Graham’s comments on his social media platform, Truth Social, on Monday.
Ms McCord said that comments like Mr Grahams’ — warnings that are not explicit instructions but that could still, intentional or not, incite voters to violent action — are what led to the Capitol riot.
“‘People are angry, they may be violent,’ and then what [Trump] knows and what Lindsey Graham also knows … is that people listen to that and people actually mobilize and do things. January 6 was the result of this same kind of tactic by President Trump and his allies,” she said.
She said Mr Graham’s words were “irresponsible” and “dangerous”, adding the senator “should be ashamed of himself”.
Mr Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort was searched by FBI agents earlier this month. Nearly 200 documents, including some highly classified documents, were recovered in the search, prompting questions as to whether or not the former president broke several laws, including the Espionage Act.
A recently unsealed warrant suggests Mr Trump is currently being investigated for potentially violating the Espionage Act and other document retention laws.
Republican allies of Mr Trump have seized on a recently released and heavily redacted affidavit detailing the documents taken from his residence in Florida. They argue that the FBI seizures and resulting investigation are a politically motivated hit — some suggesting Joe Biden being the force behind it — as a way to distract from the question of why Mr Trump took highly classified documents with him in the first place.
Mr Trump himself has leaned into this defense, going so far as to suggest the seizure was tantamount to election interference, despite the fact that he has not formally announced a run for office and it not being a presidential election year.