Hillary Clinton’s campaign strongly condemned Donald Trump Tuesday over an aside at a rally that they said suggested that the Democratic nominee or federal judges should be shot.
The remark came at an afternoon rally in Wilmington, N.C., when Trump was talking about how if elected Clinton would get to appoint federal judges to lifetime positions, including a vacant seat on the Supreme Court.
“If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know,” Trump said.
Several Clinton staffers immediately responded on Twitter, while campaign manager Robby Mook harshly condemned the remark.
“This is simple—what Trump is saying is dangerous,” Mook said. “A person seeking to be the President of the United States should not suggest violence in any way.”
The Trump campaign also quickly responded with a statement about the “dishonest media” which argued that Trump was actually speaking about the “political power” of gun rights supporters.
“It’s called the power of unification – 2nd Amendment people have amazing spirit and are tremendously unified, which gives them great political power. And this year, they will be voting in record numbers, and it won’t be for Hillary Clinton, it will be for Donald Trump,” said Jason Miller, a Trump campaign spokesman.
One Democratic member of Congress even called for Trump to be investigated by the Secret Service over the remark, while another argued that it would lead to “national tragedy and crisis.”
The National Rifle Association also weighed in on the controversy, saying that Donald Trump “is right” and slamming Clinton.
A Secret Service spokesperson declined to comment on the remark, thought the agency later tweeted about them.
A former top Secret Service official told TIME that if they were still working there they would contact someone on Trump’s campaign staff to have a conversation about whether he understands the consequences of that rhetoric.
The official also said they would contact a U.S. attorney to see if Trump broke the law. “Look, this guy is coming pretty close to the edge here,” the official said, adding Trump’s comments could be considered a “veiled threat” against Hillary Clinton.
The official added that the Secret Service would have to consider the value of having agents interview Trump. But “if this was some guy off the street and they made that statement, you’d go out and interview them,” the source told TIME. “He’s not gonna act on this. But you don’t know what you’re encouraging other people to do.”
With reporting by Will Drabold.
- TIME's Top 100 Photos of 2022
- I Tested Positive for COVID-19 Right Before the Holidays. What Should I Do?
- Column: How To Create a Sense of Belonging In a Divided America
- How to Survive the Holidays if You're a Scrooge
- Life Expectancy Provides Evidence of How Far Black Americans Have Come
- The 10 Best Albums of 2022
- Iran Has a Long History of Protest and Activism
- 6 Ways to Give Better Gifts—Based on Science