Sen. Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoSenators call for Smithsonian Latino, women's museums to be built on National Mall Democrats call out Biden Supreme Court commission Midterm gloom grows for Democrats MORE (D-Hawaii) on Thursday accused President TrumpDonald TrumpBaldwin calls Trump criticism following 'Rust' shooting 'surreal' Haley hits the stump in South Carolina Mary Trump files to dismiss Trump's lawsuit over NYT tax story MORE of making an implicit threat of violence when he warned that things could get “very bad” if his supporters in the military, police or motorcycle clubs decide to start playing “tough.”
“I think it’s more than an implicit threat,” Hirono said on MSNBC. “It sounds very much to me that encouraging them to engage in something that’s probably illegal, such as assaulting people ... that sounds like a threat to me. I think it’s appalling.”
The senator’s comments come after the president suggested that his supporters are tougher than Democrats in an interview with the conservative outlet Breitbart.
“You know, the left plays a tougher game, it’s very funny," Trump said in the interview with Breitbart published on Wednesday. "I actually think that the people on the right are tougher, but they don’t play it tougher."
"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 said.
Hirono asked what Trump’s remarks could have meant “but a strong message inducing people to hurt others?”
“This is not the kind of language the president of the United States should be employing,” Hirono said. “Words matter.”
Trump’s remarks echo similar statements he has made on the campaign trail.
During a rally for then-Missouri Senate candidate Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyFacebook unblocks Rittenhouse searches GOP holds on Biden nominees set back gains for women in top positions Graham emerges as go-to ally for Biden's judicial picks MORE (R) in September, Trump said that his opponents "were lucky that we’re peaceful."
"Law enforcement, military, construction workers, Bikers for Trump. ... They travel all over the country. .... They’ve been great," Trump said at the time. "But these are tough people. ... But they’re peaceful people, and antifa and all — they’d better hope they stay that way."
The president has been criticized for his comments in the past that have been deemed by some as a direct call on his supporters to use violence.
He once said at a 2016 rally in Las Vegas that he'd like to punch a protester in the face. Trump also encouraged his supporters at another event to "knock the crap" out of any protesters causing trouble.
"I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees," Trump said.