An Abridged Timeline of Trump’s Dangerous Rhetoric Encouraging Violence and Hate

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File photo of Donald Trump. Reuters
File photo of Donald Trump. Reuters

Donald Trump has been reasonably linked to dozens of violent acts since he launched his bid for president. In fact, ABC News has reported that 54 individual cases of violence or threats of violence can be directly linked to the president. According to ABC, “The 54 cases identified by ABC News are remarkable in that a link to the president is captured in court documents and police statements, under the penalty of perjury or contempt. These links are not speculative – they are documented in official records.”

To document all of the times Donald Trump has disparaged a person or group of people, or flatly encouraged supporters to be violent at rallies, would require more virtual real estate than we have here. Following is an abridged version.


June 16, 2015: Donald Trump began his campaign with a bang by attacking Mexicans. “They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists,” he said at a speech announcing his presidential bid. Experts believe that Trump’s repeated attacks on Hispanics and immigrants have encouraged violence throughout his presidency.

October 23, 2015: Donald Trump ramps up rhetoric against protesters at his rallies, saying he’ll start to “be a little more violent” if he keeps being interrupted.

Boston, August 9, 2015: Two brothers were arrested for beating and urinating on a homeless Mexican American man. In custody, one told police, “Trump was right. All of these illegals need to be deported.” (The man they assaulted was a permanent US resident.) Donald Trump replied to reporters’ questions about the incident by saying his supporters were “passionate”


Donald Trump elevated his rhetoric in 2016, particularly at rallies. These three examples are taken from just the first two months of the year.

January 23, 2016: Donald Trump claims he could “stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody” and not lose votes.

February 1, 2016: Trump tells supporters he’ll pay their legal fees if they “knock the crap” out of protestors.

February 23, 2016: Trump fantasizes about beating up protestors, saying, “I love the old days. You know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks.”


February 17, 2017: Donald Trump intensifies his attacks on the press and tweets for the first time that the American press is the enemy of the people.

July 28, 2017: Trump encourages police not to be so nice to the “thugs” they arrest.

August 12, 2017: Nazi sympathizers drive a car into a group of anti-racism peaceful protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer. Donald Trump responded by condemning the violence on both sides (there was not) and saying there were “very fine people” on both sides (without mentioning one side was full of white nationalist Neo-Nazi sympathizers).


October 18, 2018: Donald Trump praises Republican Representative Greg Gianforte for having body-slammed (yes, that is assault) a reporter in 2017. According to Trump, “Any guy who can do a body-slam … he’s my guy.”

October and November 2018: Cesar Sayoc mailed 16 inoperative bombs to leaders in the Democratic party, including Barack Obama and Joe Biden. During his trial, Sayoc’s lawyers argued that Donald Trump’s words had driven his client’s actions and that Sayoc saw Trump as a “surrogate father.”


May 8, 2019: Donald Trump laughs about shooting asylum seekers. When he asked during a Florida rally, “How do you stop these people,” a woman yelled, “shoot them!” Joking, the president said, “That’s only in the Panhandle, you can get away with that statement.”

October 1, 2019: The New York Times reports that Trump wanted to “shoot migrants in the legs” in the name of border security.

August 3, 2019: A gunman drove 10 hours to an El Paso Walmart with the express goal of shooting Mexicans, killing 23 people and injuring 22. Notably, the gunman claimed his anti-immigrant views predated Trump. However, the gunman also claimed he agreed with the sentiments of a young man — who had killed 51 Muslims at two New Zealand mosques — and written that while he did not support Trump as a politician, he did see Trump as a “symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose.”

When Trump was asked after the New Zealand shooting whether he thought “white nationalism is a rising threat around the world,” Trump responded, “I don’t really.”


May 29, 2020: Donald Trump calls protestors thugs and delivers a historically racist threat via Twitter, saying, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” The tweet was flagged for glorifying violence.

September 20, 2020: Donald Trump talks gleefully of MSNBC host Ali Velshi having been shot by police with a rubber bullet, saying “It was the most beautiful thing …” Velshi was shot in May while legally covering a peaceful protest.

September 29, 2020: Donald Trump, in a nationally televised debate, tells the hate group the Proud Boys to “stand back” and “stand by.”

August 31, 2020: Trump supporter Kyle Rittenhouse travels from Illinois to Wisconsin where he confronts, shoots and kills two peaceful protestors and injures one other. Rittenhouse, 17, has been charged with murder.

October 8, 2020: The FBI interrupts a domestic terrorist plot to kidnap and kill Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. The group was upset at the Whitmer’s efforts to control the coronavirus within Michigan. Whitmer is a popular target for the president, who has chastised her repeatedly since the plot was revealed, demanding she reopen Michigan

Donald Trump, of course, says he deserves “no blame” for any violence, projecting blame only on his political opponents. However, according to a 2019 report, counties in which Trump headlined rallies experienced a 226 percent increase in hate crimes.

An FBI report concluded that hate crimes increased by 5 percent in 2016 by 17 percent in 2017. Hate crimes reached a 16-year high in 2018, fueled in large part by violence against Latinos.

America has had enough of this divisiveness. Anyone who cannot consistently condemn violence and white supremacy does not deserve to lead this nation.

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Fact Quotes

As far back as 2015, Trump has been connected to documented acts of violence, with perpetrators claiming that he was even their inspiration. In fact, almost five dozen people, according to reports from the Guardian and ABC News, have enacted violence in Trump’s name.

After a Latino gas station attendant in Gainesville, Florida, was suddenly punched in the head by a white man, the victim could be heard on surveillance camera recounting the attacker’s own words: “He said, ‘This is for Trump.'” Charges were filed but the victim stopped pursuing them.

When police questioned a Washington state man about his threats to kill a local Syrian-born man, the suspect told police he wanted the victim to “get out of my country,” adding, “That’s why I like Trump.”

Reviewing police reports and court records, ABC News found that in at least 12 cases perpetrators hailed Trump in the midst or immediate aftermath of physically assaulting innocent victims. In another 18 cases, perpetrators cheered or defended Trump while taunting or threatening others.

ABC News

Dozens of supporters of Donald Trump have carried out or threatened acts of violence. Here is the Guardian’s comprehensive list. The Guardian