Mr. Trump has hardly been a leader in the civility movement. He has described many Mexican immigrants as “rapists,” mocked a reporter’s physical disability, called lawmakers and journalists “sleazy” and “corrupt,” and derided some of his own fellow Republicans as “very weak,” “failed” and “lightweight.” The other night, he suggested that a Democratic senator is a drunk.
During his 2016 campaign, he regularly summoned images of violence. He warned that “you’d have riots” if he did not win the Republican nomination and suggested that “Second Amendment people” could stop Mrs. Clinton. He encouraged physical responses to protesters who disrupted his campaign events.
“If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you?” Mr. Trump said at one rally, promising if they did, “I will pay for the legal fees.” At another, he said of a protester, “I’d like to punch him in the face.” As a protester was being taken out by security at a third rally, he said: “Try not to hurt him. If you do, I’ll defend you in court.”
In an interview on Fox News on Wednesday night, Mr. Trump denied that he bore any responsibility for the current incivility because of statements like those. “They sent paid people to disrupt our rallies and when you do that bad things happen,” he said. “It wasn’t us; it was entirely the other side.”
His messages at his latest rallies include inherent contradictions. Upset at the allegations made against Justice Kavanaugh, he lately has extolled due process, even as he bathes in “lock her up” chanting about opponents who have never been charged with a crime. He has talked about the presumption of innocence but says he is “99 percent” sure Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, leaked a letter accusing Justice Kavanaugh of sexual assault, basing his conclusion not on evidence but on her “body language” in denying it.
It was his comments about Ms. Feinstein that generated the “lock her up” chants in Council Bluffs, following the more ritual “lock her up” chants at the mention of Mrs. Clinton. Mr. Trump then said Democrats have grown out of control: “You don’t hand matches to an arsonist, and you don’t give power to an angry left-wing mob. And that’s what the Democrats are becoming.”
Anger so infuses politics today that Mr. Trump’s campaign has taken to broadcasting a prerecorded warning at his rallies before the president arrives urging his supporters not to resort to violence if they see a protester during the event. “Do not in any way touch or harm a protester,” the announcer says.
Instead, the announcer says, they should chant “Trump, Trump, Trump” until the protester is removed by security.