The armed man who was killed by law enforcement after attempting to breach an FBI office in Cincinnati, Ohio, appears to have been motivated by anger over the FBI’s search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property—anger that a host of Republican politicians and right-wing influencers were eagerly stoking in all of their followers.
Posts under Ricky Shiffer’s name on Trump’s Truth Social platform called for violence against the FBI following the search, including: “People, this is it. I hope a call to arms comes from someone better qualified, but if not, this is your call to arms from me” and “get whatever you need to be ready for combat.” The same user posted Thursday morning while the attack on the FBI office was underway. “Well, I thought I had a way through bullet proof glass, and I didn’t,” he wrote. “If you don’t hear from me, it is true I tried attacking the F.B.I., and it’ll mean either I was taken off the internet, the F.B.I. got me, or they sent the regular cops while.”
That may be why, as of Friday morning, not one Ohio Republican in Congress or top state office had acknowledged the attack on Twitter. A little awkward to decry an attack motivated by your party on the federal agency currently being demonized by your party. Friday morning at a press event, Rep. Brad Wenstrup of Ohio did condemn the attack, but, Amanda Terkel reported, “also wrap[ped] in criticism of BLM protests, the Steve Scalise shooting and Jan. 6” and “spen[t] more time on the 2017 shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) than the FBI attack. Says the attack could have changed the balance of power in Congress and the FBI screwed up in that.”
Republicans really don’t want to talk about an armed man attacking an FBI office, and no wonder.
If Ricky Shiffer was posting on Truth Social, and was in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, 2021—as he indicated on Truth Social—that tells us something about who he listens to. And here’s some of what was coming from that messaging ecosystem earlier in the week, following the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago for what has now been reported to have been classified information relating to nuclear weapons.
Rep. Ronny Jackson, the former White House doctor, similarly tweeted, “Tonight the FBI officially became the enemy of the people!!!”
Rep. Jim Banks: “Republicans have a moral duty to fight back!”
Rep. Claudia Tenney: “Biden’s Justice Department is out of control. Yesterday’s raid on President Trump’s home is yet another abuse of power and shows they are hellbent on persecuting their political opponents.”
Rep. Bob Good: “FBI leadership is unsalvageable. They are Biden political thugs, not police, trying to tear down Trump & @freedomcaucus Chairman to help Democrats. Wray needs to be impeached & House GOP needs to expose every corrupt agent on day one in the majority.”
Sen. Tom Cotton: “Garland allows Hunter to break the law, he harasses parents for speaking at school board meetings, and he refuses to protect Justices from harassment. He’s weaponized the Department against his political opponents. There will be consequences for this.”
Rep. Jim Jordan: “Biden’s DOJ obtained the warrant to raid President Trump’s home. That’s the same DOJ that approved the use of the Patriot Act to spy on parents protesting at school board meetings. They’re weaponizing government to intimidate their critics!”
Also Jordan: “The Raid Of Mar-A-Lago Is One Of The Most Frightening Things I’ve Ever Seen In Our Country”
Rep. Steve Scalise, the second-ranking House Republican: “Yesterday they raided Trump’s home and office. Today they seized the phone of a Trump ally in Congress. Weaponizing government agencies to target political opponents is the playbook of corrupt leftist regimes in failed dictatorships. We can’t tolerate it in America.”
Enemy of the people.
A moral duty to fight back.
The hill to die on.
Political thugs, not police.
There will be consequences for this.
Mere elections aren’t enough.
That’s the public face of what people like Shiffer were being fed. The responsible, fit-for-media-consumption message from members of Congress and former administration officials. And of course every one of those people will claim that they were referring to legal, nonviolent means of fighting back and dying on the hill. But when an entire movement, set of media outlets, and multiple social media platforms are pumping that out to millions of followers, someone is going to take it literally, and want to act now rather than waiting to be part of the mob on the next Jan. 6, whenever that may be. The fact that Shiffer existed and tried to break into an FBI office with an AR-15 and a nail gun, though, points to the mob ready to form at the next call to arms. And the way the Republican Party is going, the way it’s trying to downplay Jan. 6 as no big deal and the insurrectionists as simple patriots, there will be a next call to arms and it will be serious, and bloody, and dangerous not just to human life but to the United States of America.