Rep. Frederica S. Wilson (D–Flo.) has avoided Washington, D.C., in recent days because she’s received “racist and rude” threats following her clash with President Donald Trump and members of his administration.
Wilson was the congresswoman riding in a limo alongside Myeshia Johnson when Trump called the widow to issue condolences on the death of her husband, Sgt. La David T. Johnson, who was killed in Niger earlier this month. It was Wilson who told reporters that Trump had been insensitive on the call as she claimed the president had told Johnson that her husband “knew what he signed up for, but I guess it still hurt.”
Wilson’s accusations sparked a public feud with the president, who denied Wilson’s claim and said he had “proof” that she had fabricated the account. Wilson later called Trump “crazy” and said he had “a brain disorder.”
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Trump later tweeted that Wilson was “wacky” and said that she is “killing the Democrat Party!”
Wilson also got into a tussle with Trump Chief of Staff John Kelly, a former Marine general whose son died in action, when Kelly erroneously claimed that Wilson had taken credit for securing federal funding for a new FBI field office in Miami two years ago. Video of the building’s dedication ceremony shows he’d misrepresented her comments.
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The back and forth between Wilson and the White House has reportedly resulted in threats against Wilson that caused her to miss votes in D.C. in this week, her spokesperson Joyce Jones told The Washington Post. Due to the threats, which Jones characterized as “run[ning] the gamut from racist and rude to outright menacing,” a security detail is accompanying Wilson in Miami and U.S. Capitol Police are monitoring her office on Capitol Hill.
“It is only because of these extraordinary circumstances that to her dismay she did not travel to Washington to vote,” Jones told the Post. “The congresswoman considers her ability to vote on issues that impact the American public to be one of the most meaningful tools that she can use to represent her constituents and make their voices heard.”
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Trump’s Twitter attacks have prompted similar threats against his targets in the past. For instance, after Lauren Batchelder, 18, asked then-candidate Trump a question about not being a friend to women in October 2015, Trump Tweeted that she was a “arrogant young woman” who’d questioned in him in “such a nasty fashion.” Batchelder, a private citizen who’d volunteered for Jeb Bush’s campaigns, says she subsequently received threats of rape and other violent acts.
Because of the unprecedented surge of threats against lawmakers this year, congressional security forces are reviewing and chasing down thousands of such messages against officials from both parties, the Post reports. The atmosphere intensified in June, when the threats turned to violence with the baseball field shooting that seriously injured House Majority Whip Steve Scalise.