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Team Trump suggests that the covert sign in Gov. Whitmer’s interview looks like a call to kill the president

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Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

If you watch the mainstream media long enough or closely enough, you could be forgiven for believing that it’s a neck-and-neck race between Russian strongman Vladimir Putin and the quirky QAnon quacks who are most likely to help President Donald Trump win a second term.

But on “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer engaged in a little insider trolling and conspiracy-mongering.

During her interview, a small object depicting the number “86” over the number “45” was visible to the left of Whitmer.

Team Trump, with some justification, maintained Whitmer was calling for the president’s assassination. Trump’s advocates promoted that theory by noting the term “eighty-six” was mob slang for killing someone — as in to plant someone “eight miles out and six feet down.” Other Trump defenders noted the standard gravesite is eight feet long and six feet deep, thus “86.”

Trump’s critics, on the other hand, noted that “eighty-six” was an innocuous saloon reference referring to throwing a drunk out of a bar. Whitmer, according to this argument, was merely pushing for Trump to be voted out.

Here’s the problem with that line.

While the origin of the term may have been in the restaurant industry, there is no doubt that for many it also refers to killing someone.

Two years ago in Rhode Island, for example, state Sen. Elaine Morgan, a Republican, denounced a local Mexican restaurant for outfitting its staff with “8645” T-shirts. “For a person it means murder … to 86 somebody means murder,” Morgan told local media.

Whitmer’s interview also appeared just a few weeks after a woman was arrested for allegedly shipping ricin, a poison, to the White House.

Meanwhile, three Trump supporters have been shot to death during the leftist violence in major cities this year, while numerous other Trump fans have been beaten and brutalized. 

One need only recall James Hodgkinson to understand that political rhetoric can inspire violence. In June 2017 Hodgkinson shot at congressional Republicans practicing for a baseball game, wounding six, including nearly killing Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise. Hodgkinson was a former campaign volunteer for Sen. Bernie Sanders.

And let’s not forget the multiple times that entertainers – such as Johnny Depp, Kathy Griffin, Snoop Dogg and Madonna – have depicted Trump’s murder or suggested it.

One might understand Whitmer’s flirting with incitement to violence. She recently was the supposed victim of a kidnapping plot, and blamed Trump for that. But that also entailed utterly ignoring the fact that one of the alleged ring leaders aired a video denouncing Trump.

Still, it’s unsettling and unseemly that Michigan’s leader, who had called on Trump to quit “inspiring” violence and then had the temerity to appear on “Meet the Press” with a license plate reading “Respect” behind her, would seek to troll the president with an emblem that someone could take to the literal extreme.

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