Last April, hours after Donald Trump exhorted his supporters to “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” from the lockdown Gov. Gretchen Whitmer had imposed to slow the spread of COVID-19, a former assistant attorney general in the U.S. Justice Department’s national security division suggested that the president was inciting insurrection in violation of federal law.

“It’s not at all unreasonable to consider Trump’s tweets about “liberation” as at least tacit encouragement to citizens to take up arms against duly elected state officials of the party opposite his own, in response to sometimes unpopular but legally issued stay-at-home orders,” Mary McCord, the attorney, wrote in an op-ed published in the Washington Post. She noted that “private armed militias had recently expressed eagerness to support the president’s veiled call to arms” when he suggested that his conviction on impeachment charges could lead to civil war.

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