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Donald Trump deflects blame from all sides after weekend of chaos

Donald Trump deflects blame from all sides after weekend of chaos  

Republican frontrunner faces increasingly intense condemnation even from members of his own party, who warn Trump is inciting rallies into violence 

Donald Trump has refused to take responsibility for a weekend of violence and chaos on his campaign trail, defying increasingly intense criticism even from Republican candidates who warn that the frontrunner is inciting clashes that will spiral out of control. 

Trump has endured arguably the most torrid 48 hours in his candidacy for the Republican nomination, starting on Friday in St Louis, where clashes outside a rally resulted in 32 arrests. Later in the day, the self-described billionaire abandoned a mass rally after violent clashes broke out between protesters and Trump supporters inside the University of Illinois Chicago Pavilion, resulting in at least four arrests and two injured police officers.

 In both cities, protesters affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement joined the anti-Trump crowds, and more protesters bearing the slogan were ejected without violence from a Trump rally in Bloomington, Illinois, on Sunday. 

The chaos has drawn criticism from both sides of American politics, with Republican candidate Marco Rubio voicing concern that fatalities may occur amid the simmering tensions. “We’re going to lose our republic,” he warned CNN about a possible Trump presidency. “It looks like something out of the third world.” 

A spokeswoman for the campaign confirmed that two other rallies would go as scheduled ahead of crucial, winner-take-all primaries in Florida, Ohio and Illinois on Tuesday. According to recent polls, Trump leads in Florida and Illinois and is tied in Ohio, and victories for him could all but seal the maverick businessman’s nomination for the presidency as the Republican establishment scrambles to curtail his rise. 

Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric has become a staple of his chaotic rallies, where he has spoken openly about wanting to punch a protester in the face, pledged to pay legal fees for supporters who “knock the crap” out of protesters, and frequently singled out reporters and cameramen as villains in his vitriolic, unscripted speeches. 

 On Sunday morning, the candidate appeared to threaten Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, whose supporters he blamed for disrupting the event in Chicago. 

“Bernie Sanders is lying when he says his disruptors aren’t told to go to my events,” Trump tweeted.  
Be careful Bernie, or my supporters will go to yours! 

 Trump refused to accept responsibility for any violence over the weekend, arguing that his decision to cancel the rally in Chicago had prevented injuries, despite the scuffles that broke out after the announcement was made. 

 “We have great rallies, we have by far the biggest rallies,” Trump told CNN on Sunday. “And out of that, we’ve had very little problem. 

 “I’m just a messenger,” Trump added. “There is a lot of anger in this country, and it’s anger at incompetence, it’s anger at the border, it’s anger at trade deals that are so bad for us, that all our jobs are being taken out of the country.”

 During an unusually provocative exchange, the typically slick Sunday morning anchor Jake Tapper appeared frustrated and asked Trump, as “a fellow American”, to “consider dialing down the temperature”. 

 Sanders said in an interview immediately afterwards that his campaign played no part in the Chicago disruptions. “This is a man who keeps implying violence, and then you end up getting what you see,” he said. 

The Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, too, condemned what she describes as the “political arson” of Trump’s campaign. 

 On Saturday, police in Kansas City, Missouri, deployed pepper spray on another large crowd assembled outside a Trump rally at the Midland Theatre and arrested two protesters, as Trump bemoaned their presence from inside. 

The heightened tensions have not left Trump totally unaffected. At an event in Dayton, Ohio, on Saturday, secret service agents swarmed the stage to protect a panicked Trump, after a protester jumped the barriers and ran for the lectern. 

Trump then carried on with the rally, describing the attempted stage invasion as a “planned attack”. 

“They want me to tell my people: ‘Please be nice.’ My people are nice,” he said of events in Chicago. “They caused no problem. They were taunted. They were harassed by these people.”

 Rubio, who is currently stranded 20 points behind Trump in Florida, said on Sunday that Trump’s recent conduct had turned the “most important election in a generation into a circus”. 

The senator, who is fighting for his political life ahead of Tuesday’s primary in his home state, has hinted he may withdraw support for the Republican nominee should Trump secure the 1,237 delegates needed for overall victory. 

“I think that all the gates of civility have been blown apart, and we’ve now reached the point where on both sides everyone is just saying or doing whatever they want,” Rubio told CNN. 

“You know, you can’t just say or do whatever you want. This is not about political correctness. This is about rules of civility and a way that society talks to each other. And let me ask everybody this, do we really want to live in a country where everybody hates each other?” 

Asked if he was concerned somebody could lose their life, Rubio replied: “I’m very concerned. We don’t know what’s going to happen next here.” 

 Trump is currently tied at 33% with Governor John Kasich in the latter’s home state of Ohio, according to a recent CBS news poll. On Sunday, Kasich, who has notedly refrained from criticising his competitors on the campaign trail, also laid into the frontrunner’s conduct over the weekend. “There’s no question Donald Trump has created a toxic atmosphere, pitting people against each other,” Kasich said. “He needs to back off of this and be more aspirational.” Ted Cruz, the conservative Texas senator increasingly seen as the party’s most viable alternative to Trump, also condemned him on Saturday, arguing his campaign “affirmatively encourages violence” and had created “an environment that only encourages this sort of nasty discourse”. 

The weekend’s sustained disruptions follow a series of violent encounters at Trump’s rallies earlier last week. On Wednesday, in North Carolina, 26-year-old Rakeem Jones, a black protester, was sucker-punched by 78-year-old John McGraw, a white Trump supporter, as Jones was escorted out of a rally. McGraw has been charged with assault, but has said he has no regrets over the incident.

 “You bet I liked it. Knocking the hell out that big mouth,” McGraw told Inside Edition on Thursday. “The next time we see him, we might have to kill him.

” On Sunday, Trump was asked by NBC News whether he would pay McGraw’s legal fees. “I’ve actually instructed my people to look into it, yes,” he replied. “Obviously, [he] loves the country.

” On Tuesday, Michelle Fields, a reporter for the conservative news site Breitbart was allegedly manhandled and “yanked” to the ground by Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski.

 Fields later tweeted a photograph of bruising on her arm following the incident, and has filed a criminal complaint against Lewandowski, who denies any wrongdoing. Trump was not asked about the allegation, but host Chuck Todd did press the candidate on false claims he spread about the stage invader in Dayton allegedly having links to terrorist groups. “What do I know?” Trump replied. “All I know is what’s on the internet.”


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