Saturday 26 May 2018

Secret Service has spoken to Donald Trump 'more than once' about gun rights comments

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has denied encouraging violence against Hillary Clinton (AP)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has denied encouraging violence against Hillary Clinton (AP)

The U.S. Secret Service has had "more than one" conversation with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's campaign regarding comments the candidate made about gun rights, CNN reported

"If (Democrat Hillary Clinton) gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do folks," Trump said at a rally in North Carolina on Tuesday. "Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don't know," he continued. Some critics believe Trump was referring to gun violence against his rival.

Trump last night suggested that if Hillary Clinton is able to pick federal judges as US president, nothing could be done to protect the right to bear arms. He then added, without elaboration, that supporters of the Second Amendment could maybe figure out a way.

Speaking at a rally in Wilmington, North Carolina, the Republican nominee incorrectly said his general election opponent wants to "essentially abolish the Second Amendment".

He continued: "By the way, if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don't know."

Within minutes, Clinton's campaign and an outside group backing her candidacy denounced the celebrity businessman's remarks as an attempt to incite violence.

"This is simple - what Trump is saying is dangerous," said Robby Mook, Ms Clinton's campaign manager. "A person seeking to be the president of the United States should not suggest violence in any way."

The pro-Clinton group Priorities USA blasted out an email with the subject line: "Donald Trump Just Suggested That Someone Shoot Hillary Clinton."

The Trump campaign was equally quick to dispute that interpretation of his remarks, saying he was simply touting the "amazing spirit" of Second Amendment supporters.

"It's called the power of unification - Second Amendment people have amazing spirit and are tremendously unified, which gives them great political power," said Jason Miller, Mr Trump's senior communications adviser. "And this year, they will be voting in record numbers, and it won't be for Hillary Clinton, it will be for Donald Trump."

Catherine Milhoan, a spokeswoman for the US Secret Service, said: "We are aware of his comments." She declined to answer any additional questions about Mr Trump's remarks.

The Second Amendment provides a constitutional right to citizens to own guns. Ms Clinton supports some new restrictions on gun ownership, but has not advocated overturning the amendment.

Mr Trump's remarks immediately set off a firestorm of criticism on social media and threatened to upstage discussion of his economic policy speech the day before and his swing through the key battleground state of North Carolina.

Mr Trump's comments yesterday also come a few weeks after one of his campaign advisers said that "Hillary Clinton should be put in the firing line and shot for treason".

The Secret Service is investigating those remarks, made last month by Al Baldasaro, a New Hampshire state lawmaker and an adviser to Mr Trump on veterans' issues. Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks said then that neither Mr Trump nor his campaign agree with Mr Baldasaro's comments.

Meanwhile, Democratic candidate Ms Clinton suffered a blow with the news that the parents of two Americans killed in a 2012 attack in the Libyan city of Benghazi are to sue the presidential nominee.

Patricia Smith and Charles Woods, parents of Sean Smith and Tyrone Woods, filed a lawsuit against Ms Clinton for wrongful death and defamation.

The parents also accuse Ms Clinton of defaming them in statements to the media.

Islamic militants attacked a US diplomatic compound in 2012 and killed four Americans, including ambassador Chris Stevens, while Ms Clinton was secretary of state. Though a House Republicans committee cleared Ms Clinton of any wrongdoing earlier this year, the issue has dogged her presidential campaign.

The suit was filed on behalf of the parents by the conservative group Freedom Watch.

The parents, who have both spoken out against Ms Clinton, argue her "'extreme carelessness in handling confidential and classified information" on her private server may have revealed the location of State Department employees in Libya.

Those details, the suit argued, could have been obtained by "hostile adversaries" who may have hacked her server and ultimately led to their sons' deaths.

Read more: 'It's never too late to do the right thing' - Republican Evan McMullin to launch presidential bid against Trump

FBI director James Comey announced last month that it was "possible that hostile actors gained access" to Ms Clinton's email server, but added the agency did not find conclusive evidence that it was hacked.

The suit also claims Ms Clinton made "false and defamatory statements negligently, recklessly and purposefully and/or intentionally with malice" in public statements.

The parents said Ms Clinton blamed the attack on a controversial YouTube video mocking the Islamic prophet Mohammed, but later denied making those statements.

Nick Merrill, a Clinton campaign spokesman, said in response to the suit: "While no one can imagine the pain of the families of the brave Americans we lost at Benghazi, there have been nine different investigations into this attack and none found any evidence whatsoever of any wrongdoing on the part of Hillary Clinton."

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