The Secret Service is reportedly investigating a liberal California professor who tweeted in February that President Donald Trump “must hang,” alleging the president is a threat to American democracy.
As TheBlaze reported, Fresno State university history professor Lars Maischak ignited a firestorm after his tweets were discovered, many of which called for Trump and other Republicans to be assassinated.
“To save American democracy, Trump must hang. The sooner and the higher, the better,” Maischak tweeted about Trump in February.
Now, according to Fresno State president Joseph Castro, federal agents are investigating Maischak for those comments. Castro told local newspaper the Fresno Bee that he has been in “regular” contact with officials from the Secret Service, Homeland Security and FBI since Maischak’s comments went nationwide last weekend.
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It’s unclear what specific law that the feds think Maischak, a German-born professor of United States and European history, may have broken. A Class E felony, threatening the president of the United States, is one option.
Regardless, prosecutors will likely face an uphill battle if this ever gets to official charges. Courts tend to interpret the First Amendment pretty broadly even in situations like this. For example, lawyers on both sides will likely have to review the 1969 Supreme Court case Watts v. United States. Justices overturned the conviction of a man who allegedly threatened President Lyndon B. Johnson at a rally: “I am not going [to Vietnam]. If they ever make me carry a rifle the first man I want to get in my sights is L.B.J.””
Justices believed that this was “crude political hyperbole which, in light of its context and conditional nature, did not constitute a knowing and willful threat against the President” in terms of federal statue.
In a written statement given to the Bee earlier this week, Maischek apologized for his tweets and said that he has since deleted his Twitter account.
“I apologize for the tone and content of my statements made on Twitter. I ask forgiveness of those who felt threatened or offended by them,” he wrote. “It was never my intent to harm anyone, nor to encourage others to harm anyone.”
“My statements each represent the end point of a dark train of thought triggered by my despair over the actions of the present U.S. government,” the professor explained.
Still, Maischek accused Castro of “allowing himself to be instrumentalized for a right-wing smear campaign.”
Fresno State officials say they are carrying out their own investigation into Maischek and his comments. Castro says his number one goal is to ensure the safety of his students and faculty.