The Department of Justice on Monday announced that a 72-year-old man from Rockaway Beach, New York faces a federal charge for “knowingly and willfully threaten[ing] to kill, kidnap, and inflict bodily harm upon” former President Donald Trump.
An application in support of an arrest warrant suggests that Thomas Welnicki has been on law enforcement’s radar for some time, and that he may have been motivated by Trump’s refusal to acknowledge his 2020 election loss.
For instance, documents refer to a “voluntary interview” given to U.S. Capitol Police on July 21, 2020, during which the suspect allegedly said “if [Individual-1] loses the 2020 election and refused to step down,” he would “acquire weapons” and “take him down.” Trump is the person described in documents as “Individual-1.”
“WELNICKI bragged about how easy it was for him to acquire a firearm and added, ‘I don’t want to hurt anyone, but I will stand up to fascism,'” documents continue. “At the end of the interview, WELNICKI stated, ‘I really hope that God takes [Individual-1] out.'”
The feds say that this wasn’t the last contact Welnicki had with law enforcement. Authorities say that, in fact, the defendant reached out directly to Secret Service in New York and made incriminating statements. Welnicki “repeatedly referred” to Trump as “Hitler” on phone calls and allegedly claimed there was a contract to kill the former president. He also allegedly said he’d help shoot Trump and 12 unidentified members of Congress, presumably Republicans based on context:
WELNICKI threatened to kill Individual-1 as well as 12 unnamed representatives and/or senators that he stated he believed “back[ed]” Individual-1. WELNICKI further claimed that there was a $350,000 reward out to kill Individual-1 and the 12 unidentified members of Congress who assisted Individual-1. In the first voicemail, WELNICKI stated, “I am going to do anything I can to take out [Individual-1]. Oh yeah that’s a threat, come and arrest me. I will do anything I can to take out [Individual-1] and his 12 monkeys. . . . If I had the opportunity to do it in Manhattan that would be awesome. . . . Tomorrow [Individual-1] will be in Georgia, maybe I will.” In the second voicemail, WELNICKI stated, in substance, that he would aid and abet anyone that would shoot Individual-1 and any of the 12 unidentified members of Congress. WELNICKI then stated, “I’m going to Georgia tomorrow, I think [Individual-1] is going to be there. . .
7. On or about September 24, 2021, WELNICKI called the Secret Service’s New York Field Office from his Cell Phone and inquired about the Secret Service’s protection of former U.S. Presidents, including Individual-1, and their children, and also asked what weapons the Secret Service used. WELNICKI also asked about how he could arrange a protest at the residence of Individual-1 on Pearl Harbor Day. WELNICKI further stated that he has a legal right to own weapons and has guns and ammunition.
8. On or about November 8, 2021, WELNICKI called the Secret Service’s New York City Duty Desk at least three times from his Cell Phone. During each of these calls, he identified himself by name. During the first call, WELNICKI stated that he was a resident of New York City. He repeatedly referred to Individual-1 as “Hitler” and stated, “I will do everything I can to make sure [Individual-1] is dead.” During the second call, WELNICKI stated, “there is a contract out to kill [Individual-1].”
The feds further say that Welnicki didn’t stop there, and again linked his alleged threats to the election. Welnicki allegedly said violence against the government is justifiable “when ballots don’t matter”:
10. On or about December 2, 2021, WELNICKI called the Secret Service’s New York City Duty Desk from his Cell Phone. WELNICKI sought information regarding how to schedule a protest at the residence of Individual-1. He further stated, “the new Civil war could break out and taking up arms against the government is justified when ballots don’t matter.” He added that he used to own a .22 caliber firearm.
Welnicki is represented by Deirdre Von Dornum of the Brooklyn Federal Defenders office. He is expected to be presented on Monday afternoon during a telephone conference in the Eastern District of New York.
Documents say the alleged offense occurred “on or about and between September 24, 2021 and December 2, 2021, both dates being approximate and inclusive, within the Eastern District of New York and elsewhere.”
Welnicki is charged with violating 18 U.S.C. § 879, which makes it a crime to threaten to “kill, kidnap, or inflict bodily harm upon” a former president. The defendant faces a fine and/or up to five years in prison if convicted.
This is a developing story.
[Image via NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images]
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