Donald Trump Jr. and top aide retweet baseless allegation of assassination attempt

By Aaron Blake November 5 at 11:46 PM Follow @aaronblake
A man was led away by security personnel after Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump was rushed offstage at a rally on Nov. 5 in Reno, Nev. (Peter Stevenson/The Washington Post)

Trump was quickly rushed off-stage by Secret Service at a campaign rally in Reno, Nev., on Saturday night as a scuffle erupted in the crowd directly in front of the stage and a man was led away. It wasn’t immediately clear exactly what had happened.

But amid the chaos, some people seemed sure. Within minutes, at least two top Trump campaign voices — Donald Trump Jr., and top social media aide Dan Scavino — passed along unsubstantiated claims that the GOP nominee had just survived an “assassination attempt.”

SCavino

TrumpJrTweet

Trump Jr. also passed along a claim that the person who caused the disturbance had a gun.

TrumpJrTweet

And he retweeted a suggestion, shortly after the incident, that Democrats were to blame for violence at Trump rallies:

Capture

Someone on the scene had shouted that there was a gun. But there wasn’t, as the Secret Service soon confirmed.

USSS statement/Trump incident: "Immediately in front of the stage, an unidentified individual shouted "gun." ... no weapon was found." pic.twitter.com/V6dB9PQKGx

— Jacob Rascon (@Jacobnbc) November 6, 2016

In fact, it quickly began to seem there hadn't been any apparent threat to Trump at all.

After the rally, multiple reporters interviewed the man who had been led away. He was not a Democrat, but rather a Republican who opposed Trump.

This is the man who was ejected from the rally, sparking panic. He was holding a sign: "Republicans Against Trump" pic.twitter.com/bZ2JAZ2w88

— Paul Lewis (@PaulLewis) November 6, 2016

He says he's a Republican. He said he was terrified by how the crowd responded: "I was in survival mode. I knew I could die at that moment."

— Paul Lewis (@PaulLewis) November 6, 2016

His name is Austyn Crites. He's 33 and works on high altitude balloons. He's voting for some Republicans this year - just not Trump.

— Paul Lewis (@PaulLewis) November 6, 2016

Austin told me he was punched, kicked. Someone grabbed his testicles and he his neck was in a chokehold. He said he feared for his life.

— Paul Lewis (@PaulLewis) November 6, 2016

Trump Sr. has been the subject of a previous assassination plot that never got close to succeeding. As Callum Borchers reported back in June:

The No. 1 trending question related to Donald Trump on Google right now is “Who tried to shoot Trump?” Which means a lot of people don’t know the answer. Which is probably because the assassination attempt on the presumptive Republican presidential nominee hasn’t been covered as a major news story.

The answer, authorities say, is Michael Steven Sandford, a 20-year-old British citizen who was in the United States illegally after overstaying his visa. Sandford allegedly tried to pull a gun from the holster of a police officer at a Trump rally in Las Vegas on Saturday. He was arrested and later told the Secret Service that he had driven to the event from California and had been planning to kill the candidate for a year, according to a criminal complaint filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Nevada.

News outlets have certainly reported on the incident, but it hasn't gotten anything resembling wall-to-wall coverage. Cable news shows devoted little time to Sandford Tuesday morning and afternoon. Trump’s dismal fundraising report from May and his recent firing of campaign manager Corey Lewandowski received far more attention. Trump called in to the Trump-friendly “Fox & Friends” morning show and wasn’t even asked about the attempt on his life.


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