A New York man upset with what he perceived as Donald Trump’s threat to democracy was criminally charged on Monday with threatening to kill the former president, who he once referred to as Hitler.
According to an unsealed complaint, Thomas Welnicki, 72, from Rockaway Beach, expressed interest in killing the then president in an interview with US Capitol police in July 2020 and in several calls to the Secret Service the following year.
Welnicki was charged with threatening to kill, kidnap and inflict bodily harm on Trump.
“Mr Welnicki intended no harm to anyone,” said his lawyer, Deirdre von Dornum, attorney-in-charge of the federal defender’s office in Brooklyn.
“He was expressing how distraught he was at what he saw as the threats to our democracy posed by former President Trump.”
Lawyers and spokesmen for Trump did not respond to requests for comment.
Trump was identified as “Individual-1” in the complaint, which was filed in Brooklyn federal court. A footnote said “Individual-1” was president from 20 January 2017 to 20 January 2021.
Welnicki allegedly told Capitol police that if Trump lost the 2020 election and refused to leave office, he would “acquire weapons” and “take him down”.
According to the complaint, in one voicemail left with the Secret Service, Welnicki said he would “do anything I can to take out” Trump.
“Oh yeah, that’s a threat to come and arrest me,” he was quoted as saying. “I will do anything I can to take out [Trump] and his 12 monkeys … if I had the opportunity to do it in Manhattan, that would be awesome … tomorrow [Trump] will be in Georgia, maybe I will.”
The complaint said the “12 monkeys” were unnamed members of Congress who Welnicki believed supported Trump. It also said Welnicki believed there would be a $350,000 reward for killing Trump.
According to the complaint, the voicemail was recorded “on or about” 4 January 2021.
Trump spoke in Georgia on 4 January, in support of two Republican senators in run-off elections and to advance his lie about electoral fraud in his defeat by Joe Biden.
Two days later, on 6 January, Trump told supporters in Washington to “fight like hell” to overturn the election. Five people died in the ensuing attack on the US Capitol. More than 100 police officers were hurt.
The complaint said Welnicki’s threats continued in the autumn of 2021, when he likened Trump to Adolf Hitler and referred to Trump’s children.
On 2 December 2021, he allegedly told the Secret Service: “The new civil war could break out and taking up arms against the government is justified when ballots don’t matter.”
Trump was given the codename “Mogul” by the Secret Service – and was the subject of security scares.
In June 2016, for example, a British man was arrested at a rally in Las Vegas after trying to steal a police officer’s gun. The man told police his aim had been to kill Trump, then a candidate for president.
In March 2017, an intruder who said he hoped to speak to Trump breached the White House walls via the US treasury.