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Leftist pundit Keith Olbermann called for President Donald Trump to be arrested on Tuesday over a video of the president speaking about Democratic nominee Joe Biden during a campaign rally in Michigan. The president’s critics claimed he called for Biden’s assassination.
But as it turned out, the president’s words were taken out of context to convey a message that Trump did not actually communicate.
What did Olbermann and others say?
“Arrest this man for threatening Biden,” Olbermann said.
“Damn. Trump is talking about Biden being assassinated weeks into his presidency. What nut is going to interpret this as an encouragement?” David Corn of Mother Jones and MSNBC said.
Gun control activist Shannon Watts said, “Donald Trump waxing poetic about Joe Biden’s murder if he’s elected: ‘Three weeks and Joe’s shot. Let’s go Kamala.’ Police wouldn’t tolerate this kind of threat from a citizen. They shouldn’t tolerate it from the President.”
The Lincoln Project, the anti-Trump organization run by former Republicans, pounded on the president. “Trump is calling for the assassination of his political opponent,” the group said.
The claim originated with journalist Andrew Feinberg, who stripped Trump’s words from their context to make it appear that Trump was advocating a threat against his political opponent.
"Three weeks in, Joe is shot, let's go Kamala, are you ready?" pic.twitter.com/qgMVQ3ekI1
— Andrew Feinberg (@AndrewFeinberg) October 27, 2020
Feinberg’s video racked up nearly 4 million views by Tuesday afternoon, but was mysteriously not censored by Twitter, despite the video and tweet copy having completely distorted Trump’s words, making what the video purports incongruent with what Trump actually said.
What did Trump actually say?
After extolling Amy Coney Barrett during his campaign rally in Lansing, Michigan, on Tuesday, Trump turned to attack Biden and his running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris.
About 12 minutes into the rally, Trump said:
Joe Biden, Kamala, do you like Kamala? Do you like her to be your vice president? I don’t know. If he gets elected, three weeks into his presidency, they’ll say, “Kamala, you’re ready? Let’s go.” That’s why they’re talking about the … That’s why they’re talking about the 25th Amendment, right? Three weeks. Three weeks in, Joe’s shot, “Let’s go Kamala, are you get ready?” Most liberal person in the Senate.
She makes Bernie Sanders look like a serious conservative. This will not be— We can’t let it happen. This will not be the first woman president. You can have a woman president, but this will not be the first woman president.
The transcript of Trump’s remarks makes it clear that he was not talking about Biden’s assassination, but rather that a Biden presidency may be the vehicle by which Harris becomes president. This is made clear by Trump mentioning the 25th Amendment, which outlines the presidential line of succession and transfer of power.
Indeed, any native English speaker also understands the word “shot” can be used as an adjective meaning “tired,” “weary,” or “destroyed,” as in unable to properly function. That is the context in which Trump used the word.
So no. Trump did not threaten Biden as his critics claimed.