A lawyer for US President Donald Trump has been forced to walk back comments he made arguing a former senior government security official should be shot.
Joe diGenova, an attorney for Trump's campaign, called for violence against Chris Krebs, the former director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) who oversaw the security of the 2020 election, and was later fired by the president after vouching for its integrity.
In a wide-ranging interview with 60 Minutes this week, Krebs stood by his assertion the election was “the most secure in American history” and systematically debunked Trump’s unfounded claims of election fraud.
DiGenova took umbrage, going on a Boston-based talkback show to issue a verbal death threat.
Appearing on The Howie Carr Show on Monday (local time) he called the former security chief “a class A moron” and an “idiot”.
“Anybody who thinks the election went well, like that idiot Krebs who used to be the head of cybersecurity. That guy is a class A moron. He should be drawn and quartered. Taken out at dawn and shot,” he said.
The lawyer’s comments were quick to draw ire from America’s legal community.
Former federal and state prosecutor Elie Honig called for diGenova to have his licence cancelled while former FBI director Frank Figliuzzi suggested the lawyer might have violated a federal law.
DiGenova playing down comments about Krebs
Krebs later told NBC he was considering legal action over the comments.
Following the fallout, the president’s lawyer sought to walk back his violent words.
“For anyone listening to The Howie Carr Show, it was obvious that my remarks were sarcastic and made in jest,” diGenova said Tuesday (local time) in a statement distributed by the Trump campaign.
“I, of course, wish Mr Krebs no harm. This was hyperbole in a political discourse.”
The White House communications director has since labelled the comments “wildly inappropriate”.
According to CNN, a source familiar with Trump's election challenges said diGenova is believed to still be helping Trump’s main lawyer Rudy Giuliani in challenging the election results – an effort which has practically had no success in the past four weeks.
Justice department says no widespread fraud
US Attorney General William Barr, and close Trump ally, has slapped down the president’s conspiratorial claims of a stolen election.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Barr said US attorneys and FBI agents had been working to follow up specific complaints and information they had received, but said the Justice Department had not uncovered any evidence that would change the outcome of the election.
“To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election,” he said.
The comments are especially direct coming from Barr, who has been one of the president’s most ardent allies. Before the election, he had repeatedly raised the notion that mail-in voter fraud could be especially vulnerable to fraud during the coronavirus pandemic as Americans feared going to polls and instead chose to vote by mail.
Shortly after Barr’s statement was published, Trump tweeted out more baseless claims of voter fraud. And his attorney, Giuliani, and his campaign issued a scathing statement claiming, “with all due respect to the Attorney General, there hasn’t been any semblance” of an investigation.
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