Liberal commentator: Trump's warning that supporters could play tough is a 'violent dog whistle'

Liberal commentator Jason Nichols said Friday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpNASA exec leading moon mission quits weeks after appointment The Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Frustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' MORE’s recent comments suggesting that his supporters could play "tough" against Democrats is “clearly a violent dog whistle.”

“This is clearly a violent dog whistle, saying that we will be violent if this actually comes to it,” Nichols said during a panel discussion on Hill.TV's “Rising.”

“I don’t think there’s any argument that he’s talking about policy or he’s talking about anything of substance other than ‘we’re tough, we’ll beat you up,’” he continued.

Nichols’ comments come after Trump suggested in an interview with the conservative outlet Breitbart that his supporters in the military, police and “Bikers for Trump” are tougher than Democrats. 

"I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump — I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad," Trump told Breitbard.

Sen. Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoSenate confirms Rosen for No. 2 spot at DOJ Alabama abortion law sparks fears Supreme Court may overturn Roe v. Wade The CASE Act is an opportunity for creators to have rights and remedies MORE (D-Hawaii) later called the president out for his comments, accusing Trump of encouraging violence and saying that his words constituted an “implicit threat.”

Nichols told Hill.TV that Trump’s comments echo similar statements that he has made on the campaign trail.

“Of course we saw this throughout the campaign in 2016, we saw this kind of talk about roughing people up, this is kind of classic Trump,” the commentator said. “This is from a kid who is a trust fund baby, someone who is a New York socialite sitting there talking about being tough.”

Trump has repeatedly been accused of encouraging violence among his supporters, particularly during campaign rallies. 

During a 2016 rally in Las Vegas, Trump told the crowd that he'd like to punch a protester in the face. 

"I love the old days, you know what they used to do to guys like that when they're in a place like this, they'd be carried out on a stretcher," he said before adding "I'd like to punch him in the face."  

—Tess Bonn