A professor who researches US militias has warned that any indictment against the former president donald trump resulting from a search of a house in Florida would cause “a fire”.
Criminologist Brian Levin said CNN‘s Kim Brunhuber on Friday that people might act on the rhetoric surrounding the Mar-a-Lago raid and appeared to criticize some of the former president’s allies for their recent comments.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing and maintained that the search of his Palm Beach home was politically motivated. He also suggested that the FBI the officers involved in the search could have “planted” evidence.
No one has been charged with a crime stemming from the investigation into the handling of White House documents, but the warrant authorizing the search, unsealed on Friday, cited possible violations of three federal laws all of which are subject to prison terms, including the Espionage Act.
“This particular case strikes me as a rallying call,” Levin said. “And then as it heats up, when there’s a certain event, an indictment – we’re not saying that happens – but if it does, it will make that fire burn more.”
He added: “The kindling is already there and we’re very concerned because that kind of stuff is heating up and getting more headed as we go down this track as to what’s going to happen versus a possibility of criminal proceedings against the former president.”
Levin is director of the Center for the Study of Hatred and Extremism and his comments come after a gunman was shot after shoot an FBI field office in Cincinnati, Ohio with a nailer. The man had visited the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021, according to reports.
Brunhuber asked Levin about “good politicians and media personalities” and asked if he thought these personalities “just don’t care about the consequences of stoking political violence.”
“I don’t think they care,” Levin said. “And we had tons of data showing that hate crimes, extremist conspiracies and including homicides, go up downstream around this type of rhetoric.”
“What this does is label certain groups and individuals as legitimate targets of aggression,” he continued. “But sometimes that aggression manifests like what we see online in this fire of slurs, epithets and conspiracy theories.”
“But for some, they will act either individually or in a more organized way,” Levin warned. He added that based on FBI data, “the worst day for hate crimes” was when Trump’s 2019 impeachment was announced.
“So we see that over and over again with the the downstream effects of all that infiltrates in this swamp of grievances where this is then made a scapegoat for individuals ranging from Antifa, BLM to the FBI,” he said.
The FBI released a statement for Newsweek Saturday: “The FBI is always concerned about violence and threats of violence against law enforcement, including FBI men and women. We are working closely with our law enforcement partners to assess and respond to those threats, which are reprehensible and dangerous.
“As always, we would like to remind members of the public that if they observe anything suspicious, report it to law enforcement immediately.”
Update 8/13/22 10:35 AM ET: This article has been updated to include a statement from the FBI.