"Trump’s emails transform him into a persecuted martyr": Daily messages prime MAGA for post-election

"Trump is priming the Christian/MAGA base to violently contest a “rigged” 2024 presidential election"

By Chauncey DeVega

Senior Writer

Published June 20, 2024 6:15AM (EDT)

Republican presidential candidate, former President Donald Trump arrives for an election-night watch party at Mar-a-Lago on March 5, 2024 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate, former President Donald Trump arrives for an election-night watch party at Mar-a-Lago on March 5, 2024 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Donald Trump, a man who is a convicted felon, Jan. 6 coup plotter, aspiring dictator, and sexual assaulter as confirmed by a court of law, has repeatedly demonstrated that he has a deep attraction to and propensity for violence. As I have been chronicling throughout the Age of Trump, the corrupt and criminal ex-president’s threats of violence and mayhem have been escalating. Since his felony conviction several weeks ago and the possibility, however unlikely, that he will be sentenced to prison, his threats of violence and destruction have only gotten worse. There is no limit or bottom to Donald Trump’s vile behavior — he will only get worse, not better.

None of this is normal. The United States and its people are deeply troubled. 

Trump’s subject heading for one of his recent violence-inciting fundraising emails reads, “I’m on the warpath.”

Trump is also continuing to valorize the Jan. 6 terrorists who launched a lethal attack on the Capitol as part of his coup plot. At a rally in Nevada, Trump “promoted” the MAGA members from “political prisoners” and “hostages” to “warriors:

“Those J6 warriors — they were warriors….But they were really, more than anything else, they’re victims of what happened. All they were doing is protesting a rigged election.”

They were given fair trials in a democracy for their crimes and then found guilty based on the preponderance of the evidence. The Jan. 6 terrorists are not warriors or otherwise heroic. In reality, they are foot soldiers for a fascist cause and enemies of democracy, who their Great Leader, like other authoritarians and autocrats, has contempt for and views as dupes and useful idiots.

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In a fundraising email that should have received much more attention from the mainstream news media, Trump, in another act of projection and stochastic terrorism where he feigns being the victim, basically calls for public executions of his political enemies and anyone else who opposes him and his MAGA movement and the larger neofascist cause. Ultimately, Donald Trump and his propagandists want an American version of the Terror during the French Revolution when tens of thousands of people were publicly executed.


Remember when that Sicko Kathy Griffin made the rounds parading my BEHEADED head when I was President?!”

The radical-left CHEERED!

Obama and Biden were SILENT!

And the Fake News BLASTED it everywhere!

The SAD and HORRIFIC TRUTH is that this is STILL the Sick Dream of every Trump-Deranged lunatic out there! And it’s not just me they want gone, THEY’RE REALLY COMING AFTER YOU….

Sick Sick Sick!

Donald Trump is referencing comedienne Kathy Griffin who, several years ago, shared an image of herself holding his severed head.

Monday, in another escalation of his endless appetite for violence and menace, Donald Trump reportedly sent out a text message to his MAGA cultists threatening President Biden with a “bloodbath” at the upcoming debate:


And I want YOU there when I finish Biden. 

Donald Trump has used this language about “bloodbaths” several times in the last few months. Predictably, the mainstream news media normalized and imposed other more “benign” explanations on Trump’s obvious threats of violence against his perceived enemies and anyone else who does not surrender to him and the MAGA movement.

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In an attempt to make better sense of Donald Trump’s increasingly violent emails and other communications, and the implications for the country’s democracy and politics (and the safety of the American people), I reached out to several leading experts on national security, terrorism, and propaganda.

Barbara Walter is a professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego, and one of the world's leading experts on civil wars, political violence and terrorism. She is also a permanent member of the Council on Foreign Relations and has consulted for the State Department, the Department of Defense, the UN and the World Bank. Walter's most recent book is "How Civil Wars Start: And How to Stop Them."

If you view videos of Trump campaigning in 2016 you quickly notice that his rhetoric at the time was much less aggressive, negative, and violent than it is today. Many people have asked me whether words affect how people behave. Are Trump's supporters likely to become more aggressive, angry, and violent to match Trump's words? The evidence suggests that they will.

"A Fourth Generation Warfare (4GW) attack on the legitimacy of the Constitution, institutions, and courts needs a 4GW response at the level of moral conflict."

Here's what we know. The research on the effects of violent rhetoric by political leaders is relatively new. However, it generally suggests that violent rhetoric by political leaders can have significant effects on public opinion, social dynamics, and even the behavior of supporters. For example, some research suggests that repeated exposure to violent language from political leaders can desensitize individuals to violence, leading to its normalization in everyday life. Evidence also suggests that violent rhetoric can contribute to real-world violence or aggression. This can include hate crimes, acts of terrorism, or other forms of political violence by individuals or groups who feel empowered or justified by the rhetoric of political leaders. Violent rhetoric can also evoke strong emotional responses in individuals, including fear, anger, or anxiety. All of this suggests that Trump is ramping up statements of violence in order to exacerbate societal divisions, demonize his opponents, undermine democratic norms, and encourage the use of force should he lose the election in November.

Jason Van Tatenhove is an author and journalist who covers violent political extremism. He previously served as the national media director for the Oath Keepers. He documented his experiences with the Oath Keepers in his book "The Perils of Extremism: How I Left the Oath Keepers and Why We Should be Concerned about a Future Civil War." 

The recent rhetoric from Donald Trump, especially in light of his 34 felony convictions, serves as a stark reminder of the political and social fractures within our nation. His narrative, filled with vivid imagery of persecution and warfare, aims to galvanize his base by painting himself as the ultimate victim of an authoritarian regime. Trump’s claims that he has been the target of a witch hunt and his warnings that Biden's administration will come after ordinary Americans next are designed to incite fear and rally support through a sense of shared persecution. These techniques seem tried and true and are working here in America with a generation nursed on pro wrestling and reality TV.

I must ask myself why. You would think that most thinking, rational humans who find themselves in the here and now would realize that those who make the most prominent spectacle of bellowing the loudest from the rooftops about their innocence are, in truth, the guiltiest. Those who scream the system was rigged tried their best to rig and game the system. Those who try to sell us that they are fighting for us, our freedoms, and the American way of life are, in fact, fighting to remain free of legal accountability for their own actions and looking to destroy the freedoms that our forebearers fought for, sacrificed, and died to win for us.

This narrative is not just a political strategy; it’s a call to arms, echoing the divisive and incendiary language that fueled the January 6 insurrection. By positioning himself as the last bastion against an encroaching tyranny, Trump taps into deep-seated fears and resentments, transforming his legal battles into a crusade for the soul of America.

However, it's crucial to dissect these claims with a critical eye. The depiction of America as a war zone under siege by the "Radical Left War Machine" is not only hyperbolic but dangerously misleading. It fosters an environment where extremism can flourish, and civil discourse is overshadowed by paranoia and animosity.

When dealing with people like the individual we are speaking of, it is best to take a step back, turn down the volume (or mute it altogether), and take some time to look at their actions over time. Without all the high-gloss polish and propagandistic spin, the ugly truth of action over time is much easier to see for what it is.

As journalists, our role is to cut through the noise and present the facts. Trump's narrative may resonate with his supporters, but we must highlight the broader context and the real implications of his words. This isn't just about one man's fight against the system; it's about the integrity of our democratic institutions and the need for a collective commitment to truth and accountability.

James Scaminaci III is a former senior civilian intelligence analyst who has written extensively about the Christian Right in America, the Tea Party and the Patriot militia movement, and political violence. 

There are a few major themes of Trump’s emails. First, everything that has happened to me [Trump] is illegitimate. This is the major strategy of Fourth Generation Warfare. The current president, the Department of Justice, FBI, and the federal, state, and local courts are acting illegitimately. Trump reinforces his target audience’s belief that the “Deep State,” that is, those apolitical civil servants, your neighbors and friends, who follow and enforce the country’s laws and regulations, are actually monstrous.

Second, because Christian Nationalists have made Trump into a politician given a God-given mandate to rule, if not Jesus himself, Trump’s emails transform him into a persecuted martyr.

Third, because the Christian/MAGA base feels itself to be persecuted—those “evil,” “satanic” Democrats are anti-God and have driven God from the public square—Trump’s emails emphasizes that the real target of the Biden persecution are Christian/MAGA believers.

Fourth, Trump’s emails play to the sense that Christian Nationalists have that they are in the End Times, that they are engaged in a cosmic war of Good versus Evil, God versus Satan. And that this struggle is already violent. Thus, he claims that the “tyrannical Biden regime’s reign of terror” must end. They’ve “opened fire on MAGA.” They operate a “war machine.” And they’ve turned America into a “war zone.”  And lastly, the emails promise that a Trump victory will result in retribution for all this evil. If you are under this vicious and unrelenting attack, do you not counter-attack after the election?

Of course, you do. Trump is priming the Christian/MAGA base to violently contest a “rigged” 2024 presidential election, overturn the election, and then destroy the apolitical civil service, the rule of law, transparency in government, and wreck the post-World War Two security architecture that has brought stability and economic growth to us and our allies in Europe and the Asia-Pacific regions.

The reality is much different. But, a Fourth Generation Warfare (4GW) attack on the legitimacy of the Constitution, institutions, and courts needs a 4GW response at the level of moral conflict.


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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