A member of the Coast Guard is believed to have had white nationalist ties and to have plotted a large-scale terrorist attack targeting journalists from CNN and MSNBC as well as prominent Democratic politicians — and some blame President Donald Trump for inspiring the plot.
Christopher Paul Hasson, 49, of Silver Spring, Maryland, was arrested on Friday on gun and drug charges, although it is also believed he had planned a mass killing motivated by a right-wing extremist ideology, according to CNN. Hasson also possessed large quantities of human growth hormone and steroids so as to "increase his ability to conduct attacks." It is believed that Hasson was inspired by the manifesto of Anders Breivik, a Norwegian white supremacist who murdered 77 people in two terrorist attacks in 2011, and that his stockpiling of performance enhancement drugs was based on Breivik's advice to that effect.
Hasson is alleged to have written that "I am dreaming of a way to kill almost every last person on the earth." He is also alleged to have written to a neo-Nazi leader that "we need a white homeland as Europe seems lost."
It is believed that the people targeted by Hasson included CNN journalists Don Lemon, Chris Cuomo and Van Jones; MSNBC journalists Chris Hayes, Ari Melber and Joe Scarborough; Sens. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kamala Harris of California and Chuck Schumer of New York; Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and former Rep. Beto O'Rourke of Texas.
Scarborough responded to the news by writing that Trump bears responsibility for Hasson's alleged actions because "Stalinist phrases like ‘enemies of the people’ that only tyrants have used in the past."
He added, "This is pretty simple. It’s all on the president’s shoulders. It’s all the president’s fault. And he sits there with his mouth shut, for once in his life, doesn’t say anything, doesn’t tweet anything, which, of course, makes it even more on him."
Rep. Ocasio-Cortez also had harsh words about the media, this time directed at the media's coverage of it.
"Journalists are sharing stories about where I live the same day it’s shared that myself + others were targeted by a mass shooter. All this paired w/ amplifying unvetted conspiracy theories. It’s reckless, irresponsible & puts people directly in danger. This isn’t a game," Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.
"The defendant is a domestic terrorist, bent on committing acts dangerous to human life that are intended to affect governmental conduct," prosecutors wrote about Hasson. Meanwhile a US Coast Guard Headquarters spokesman, Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer Barry Lane, released a statement explaining that Hasson "was arrested last week on illegal weapons and drug charges as a result of an ongoing investigation led by the Coast Guard Investigative Service, in cooperation with the FBI and Department of Justice. Because this is an open investigation, the Coast Guard has no further details at this time."
The allegations against Hasson are reminiscent of those against Cesar Sayoc, a former pizza deliveryman and strip-club worker whose strong support for President Donald Trump prompted him to send out mail bombs to people he viewed as enemies of Trump's agenda, according to The Washington Post. His alleged targets included former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former U. S. Attorney General Eric Holder, former intelligence chiefs of John Brennan of the CIA and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Rep. Maxine Waters, actor Robert De Niro and billionaires George Soros and Tom Steyer. He also sent packages to Booker and Harris, two of the senators allegedly targeted by Hasson.
Hasson's alleged crimes are also consistent with the growing problem of white nationalism in the military. Although former Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano faced a harsh backlash for releasing a report that warned about this potential problem during the early years of Obama's administration, it has been reported that one in four troops has seen white nationalism in the ranks. Last year, former Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., sent a letter to Secretary of Defense James Mattis writing that "although Department of Defense guidance clearly prohibits discrimination and extremist behavior, it appears that some service members are still able to join and actively participate in extremist organizations.