Donald Trump's death wish for Hunter Biden

The former president's violent rhetoric is clearly escalating

By Chauncey DeVega

Senior Writer

Published July 20, 2023 6:00AM (EDT)

Donald Trump and Hunter Biden (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Donald Trump and Hunter Biden (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

Donald Trump continues to threaten death, murder, and other mayhem upon his "enemies" or any individual(s) or group(s) who dare to oppose him and the neofascist MAGA movement. Last week, in a post on his Truth Social disinformation platform, Trump wished death upon Hunter Biden because President Joe Biden's son was able to enter a plea deal in response to minor federal tax crimes.

Weiss is a COWARD, a smaller version of Bill Barr, who never had the courage to do what everyone knows should have been done. He gave out a traffic ticket instead of a death sentence. Because of the two Democrat Senators in Delaware, they got to choose and/or approve him. Maybe the judge presiding will have the courage and intellect to break up this cesspool of crime. The collusion and corruption is beyond description. TWO TIERS OF JUSTICE!

Trump's death wish for Hunter Biden comes several weeks after Trump shared what he believed to be the address of former President Barack Obama's home in Washington D.C. on his Truth Social platform. Trump's intent was obvious: he wanted one of his cultists to assassinate or otherwise commit acts of serious violence against Barack Obama and likely his family. Trump would (almost) get his wish, when one of his followers, who was armed with several guns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, apparently attempted to gain access to Obama. The man, named Taylor Taranto, bragged online about his plans to assassinate Obama. Taranto was also a participant in the Jan. 6 coup attempt and attack on the Capitol. Fortunately, the Secret Service stopped the would-be assassin before he could follow through on his nefarious plans.

The accused assassin was arraigned in a D.C. court where a judge showed him much more mercy and empathy than he likely deserves. However, Judge Zia Faruqui was correct when he said, with regret, that Taranto was following Trump's "orders" when he allegedly targeted Obama.

As a practical matter, why would Donald Trump stop making violent threats?

As FBI agent Clarice Starling says of the serial killer known as Buffalo Bill in the film "The Silence of the Lambs", "He's got a real taste for it now, and he's getting better at his work."

Until very recently, Trump has never been held seriously responsible for his decades-long public crime spree that includes sexual assault as confirmed in the E. Jean Carrol civil case and a panoply of other antisocial and antihuman behavior. Trump attempted a coup on Jan. 6 that involved a lethal assault by his followers on the Capitol. He has repeatedly bragged about being able to kill someone in broad daylight and get away with it because of his popularity. At his rallies and other events Trump repeatedly encouraged his followers to engage in acts of violence against journalists, the news media, Black Lives Matters protesters, "Antifa" and others deemed to be "the enemy" because they are "not real Americans" like his MAGA followers.

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Trump has publicly threatened, both explicitly and implicitly, the lives and safety of President Biden, Hillary Clinton, Special Counsel Jack Smith, Attorney General Merrick Garland, and the prosecutors and law enforcement who are trying to hold him accountable for his crimes. Trump's main 2024 presidential campaign message is a promise that if elected there will be a "final battle", a reign of terror and revenge against the Democrats, liberals, progressives and any other Americans who oppose the neofascist MAGA movement.  

Of course, Trump's violent and other pathological behavior has not disqualified or otherwise seriously hurt his quest to be the Republican Party's 2024 presidential nominee. In fact, the party and its voters are ever more united behind Donald Trump where his criminality and other aberrant behavior has made him more popular and not less.

The mainstream American news media largely ignored Taranto's attempt to assassinate Barack Obama. Predictably, the news media did much the same in response to Donald Trump's wishing death upon Hunter Biden.

Trump's violent and other pathological behavior has not disqualified or otherwise seriously hurt his quest to be the Republican Party's 2024 presidential nominee.

Earlier this week, the New York Times reported on Trump and his cabal's plans to eliminate any and all opposition to the regime through the normal process of institutional checks and balances by civil servants, the rule of law, and other democratic institutions if he takes back the White House in the 2024 Election. Trump would in essence become an American dictator. If such a nightmare scenario were to materialize, then a man who has a demonstrated and proven attraction to and capacity to engage in violence and destruction would have almost free rein to follow through on his most dark and evil impulses.

Trump cannot achieve his revolutionary goal of destroying America's multiracial, pluralistic democracy – and the Constitutional order more broadly – by himself. He needs a political party, a movement and other allies and forces to achieve such an outcome. On this, historian Heather Cox Richardson warns in a recent issue of her newsletter how the Republican Party "appears to have fully embraced the antidemocratic ideology advanced by authoritarian leaders like Russia's president Vladimir Putin and Hungary's prime minister Viktor Orbán":

They claim that the tenets of democracy—equality before the law, free speech, academic freedom, a market-based economy, immigration, and so on—weaken a nation by destroying a "traditional" society based in patriarchy and Christianity.

Instead of democracy, they have called for "illiberal" or "Christian" democracy, which uses the government to enforce their beliefs in a Christian, patriarchal order.

Trump leads a fascist-authoritarian-fake right-wing populist cult of personality. As such, Trump exerts a powerful if not inexorable amount of influence and control over his followers which translates into his violent impulses and behavior spreading across American society like a plague.

New research by The Lincoln Democracy Institute on political polarization and violence in the Age of Trump and beyond reinforces how severe America's democracy crisis really is:

The survey found that extremism is born out of increasing polarization and the normalizing of extremist rhetoric. The right and left deal with their competing worldviews by directing their anger at the "other side". Long-standing generational divides further feed into this: the baby boomers are more likely to be extremist and have ideological divides than any other generation. Other divides include generational experiences such as the end of the Cold War, relationships with technology, and the propensity to embrace cultural change. 

This is all being fed by a new right wing media ecosystem that plays off the fears of its viewers and pushes them towards radicalization. Particularly troublesome is the new right extremist media that promotes election denialism and frequently pushes false narratives designed to anger their audience and the MAGA base.

"As the electorate is becoming more politically extremist, and some are radicalizing the threat of violence is growing exponentially," said Trygve Olson, Survey author and Lincoln Democracy Institute Senior Advisor. "The lack of belief that a fair election is possible in 2024 is setting the stage for wholesale rejection of the results that could lead to violence during and after the election. This is a critical moment for democracy and it is imperative that the nation respond to the moment by supporting our democratic institutions and calling out bad actors."

Donald Trump is 77 years old. He is not going to change. The greater concern in terms of American society and what happens in the years and decades to come – independent of Trump – is how the American people as a whole, the mainstream news media, and too many political elites have become so quickly used to and habituated to a former president, one of the most powerful people in the country, who routinely if not a daily basis threatens violence, death, mayhem and other harm upon his "enemies" in the rival political party and across society.

After the horrors of the Holocaust and World War II, social psychologists spent much time and energy trying to determine how an entire democratic and cosmopolitan society like Germany can quite literally go mad, intoxicated by violence and hatred in what would become a project of self-destruction.

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One does not have to look to the past or abroad for answers: The Age of Trump and the rise of American neofascism is providing a direct and personal lesson in real-time for the American people in how such horrors unfold and become normalized.

In an attempt to find some clarity during these horrible years, I have repeatedly returned to Milton Mayer's important book "They Thought They Were Free: The Germans 1933-45." The following two passages have proven to be remarkably helpful:

"But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes. That's the difficulty. If the last and worst act of the whole regime had come immediately after the first and smallest, thousands, yes, millions would have been sufficiently shocked—if, let us say, the gassing of the Jews in '43 had come immediately after the 'German Firm' stickers on the windows of non-Jewish shops in '33. But of course this isn't the way it happens. In between come all the hundreds of little steps, some of them imperceptible, each of them preparing you not to be shocked by the next. Step C is not so much worse than Step B, and, if you did not make a stand at Step B, why should you at Step C? And so on to Step D…."

"In the body politic as in the body personal, nonresistance to the milder indulgences paves the way for nonresistance to the deadlier."

The Trumpocene and what it birthed has done great harm to us as individuals, collectively, and as a society.

We the Americans are very sick right now and most don't even realize it. This includes the many tens of millions of Americans in the MAGA movement, the Republican fascists, and the larger white right who are very sick but believe that they are in fact healthy. The human mind's capacity for denial and delusion is that extreme.

By Chauncey DeVega

Chauncey DeVega is a senior politics writer for Salon. His essays can also be found at He also hosts a weekly podcast, The Chauncey DeVega Show. Chauncey can be followed on Twitter and Facebook.

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