With treason claim and warning of ‘civil war,’ Trump ramps up Twitter rhetoric
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With treason claim and warning of ‘civil war,’ Trump ramps up Twitter rhetoric

US president lashes out as Democratic-led House moves ahead with its inquiry into abuse of power; civil war tweet draws condemnation from Republican lawmaker

US President Donald Trump speaks during the Armed Forces Welcome Ceremony in honor of the Twentieth Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on September 30, 2019 at Summerall Field, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Virginia. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP)
US President Donald Trump speaks during the Armed Forces Welcome Ceremony in honor of the Twentieth Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on September 30, 2019 at Summerall Field, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Virginia. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

WASHINGTON (AFP) — Conspiracy theories, calls to arrest Democrats for treason, ominous warnings about civil war: US President Donald Trump, facing the threat of impeachment, is ramping up his bellicose rhetoric on Twitter to a new level.

Trump is lashing out wildly in all directions as the Democratic-led House of Representatives moves ahead with its inquiry into the 73-year-old real estate tycoon for abuse of power.

“The Greatest Witch Hunt in the history of our Country!” the president tweeted Monday.

Trump went so far as to suggest that Adam Schiff, the Californian lawmaker heading the impeachment inquiry, be arrested for treason.

In this July 24, 2019, file photo, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, speaks during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

Schiff opened a congressional hearing last week with a parody imitation of Trump speaking like a mob boss to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate his potential 2020 White House opponent Joe Biden.

A whistleblower complaint about Trump’s July 25 phone call with the Ukrainian leader has led to the opening of the impeachment inquiry in the House.

If Trump is impeached by a simple majority vote in the 435-member House he would face a trial in the Republican-led Senate, where a two-thirds majority would be needed to convict him and remove him from office.

Schiff’s impersonation was intended to dramatize his contention that the president was acting like a mafia boss but it has been widely criticized by conservative media.

“It bore NO relationship to what I said on the call,” Trump said of Schiff’s remarks. “Arrest for Treason?”

‘Civil war’

Trump also raised eyebrows by retweeting comments made by a Baptist pastor, Robert Jeffress, to Fox News in which he warned of the dangers of “civil war” if the president was impeached.

In this July 1, 2017, file photo, the Rev. Robert Jeffress, of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, speaks as he introduces US President Donald Trump during the Celebrate Freedom event at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

“If the Democrats are successful in removing the President from office (which they will never be), it will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal,” Trump paraphrased Jeffress as saying.

That tweet by the president drew condemnation from at least one Republican lawmaker, Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois.

“I have visited nations ravaged by civil war,” Kinzinger tweeted. “@realDonaldTrump I have never imagined such a quote to be repeated by a President. This is beyond repugnant.”

Trump’s mention of civil war also drew criticism from Richard Painter, who served as White House chief ethics lawyer under president George W. Bush.

“A president who threatens civil war if the political process does not support him cannot be allowed to command the United States military,” said Painter, who has left the Republican Party. “He should be removed from office immediately.”

Trump has revived various conspiracy theories including one that posits that the hacking of a Democratic Party server and theft of emails during the 2016 presidential election came from Ukraine and not from Russia.

US President Donald Trump meets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the InterContinental Barclay New York hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, September 25, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

“It is completely debunked,” Trump’s former Homeland Security adviser Thomas Bossert, told the ABC’s “This Week,” of the conspiracy theory.

During his call with Zelensky, Trump asked Ukraine’s leader to look into this along with a probe of Biden and his son Hunter, who served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company.

Besides Democrats, Trump has stepped up his attacks on one of his favorite targets — the media.

“These Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats, are doing great harm to our Country,” Trump tweeted. “They are lying & cheating like never before in our Country’s history in order to destabilize the United States of America & it’s upcoming 2020 Election.

“They & the Fake News Media are Dangerous & Bad!” he said.

‘Risk your careers’

Few Republican lawmakers have been critical of Trump since the Ukraine scandal emerged last week but former Republican senator Jeff Flake of Arizona urged them on Monday to speak up.

“My fellow Republicans, it is time to risk your careers in favor of your principles,” Flake said in a column in The Washington Post. “Whether you believe the president deserves impeachment, you know he does not deserve reelection.

“For those who want to put America first, it is critically important at this moment in the life of our country that we all, here and now, do just that,” Flake said.

“Trust me when I say that you can go elsewhere for a job. But you cannot go elsewhere for a soul.”

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