The FBI has arrested 14 right-wing, gun-toting, pseudo-patriots who are alleged to have been plotting to kidnap and, perhaps, execute Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. President Donald Trump’s response to this chilling example of domestic terrorism has been to attack and denigrate Whitmer.

Trump has demolished all sorts of presidential norms, but this violation of decency and dereliction of duty may be the most vile. Can you imagine any other president in our history leaning in on the side of thugs who have threatened dire harm to an elected official who provoked their ire simply because she asked them to wear masks to prevent the spread of a pandemic?

This week at a campaign rally in Michigan, Trump slammed Whitmer again. In response, the crowd began to chant, “Lock her up! Lock her up!” Trump let the chant roll on as he stood at the podium looking grim. Finally, he said, “Lock ’em all up.”

Some Trump apologists will say he was just having fun, just joking. But that argument is belied, not only by the president’s angry demeanor but by his continuing quest to see his political enemies thrown into prison. In recent days, Trump has been very upset with his usually sycophantic attorney general, Bill Barr, because Barr has resisted prosecuting Joe Biden based on a bogus, Russian-inspired fairy tale brought home by the president’s loony lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

In his heart, Trump is a proto-Mussolini who would happily jail anyone who dares oppose him, including all the journalists he calls “enemies of the people.” At least for now, he can only dream about having such power. The truly disturbing thing is that far too many of the people cheering for him at his rallies seem eager to let Trump follow his dark heart.

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