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OPINION

Secret Service Should Investigate De Niro’s Threat Against Trump

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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NEW YORK — On Tuesday afternoon, I contacted the United States Secret Service and formally requested that it probe a violent threat against GOP nominee Donald J. Trump.

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I specifically asked the Secret Service to investigate actor Robert De Niro’s recent statement in an Internet video viewed at least 18 million times, so far. De Niro says of Trump, “I’d like to punch him in the face.”

This comment appears to violate a federal law called “Threats against former Presidents and certain other persons” 18 U.S. Code § 879 (a) (3). According to this statute:

Whoever knowingly and willfully threatens to kill, kidnap, or inflict bodily harm upon…a major candidate for the office of President or Vice President…shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.

On this video, a visibly agitated De Niro also says of Trump: “He’s a punk. He’s a dog. He’s a pig.” The First Amendment correctly protects these rude words, even though they are the quintessence of the bullying, uncivil discourse of which the Left loves to accuse the Right in general and Trump in particular.

De Niro can be as uncivil as he wants. However, he crossed the line when he threatened to injure Trump. Even if De Niro does not intend to act upon his very public words, they could inspire someone else to carry them out. God knows there are countless wackos out there, any one of whom could grab a gun, tell himself, “De Niro will love this!” and then open fire on Trump and a rally full of his supporters.

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This incitement effect is all the more worrisome given De Niro’s prominence as one of America’s most beloved actors and the well-deserving winner of two Academy Awards.

It gave me no joy to report De Niro’s statement to federal officials. I have been a fan of De Niro’s since I saw The Deer Hunter in ninth grade at the old Mann Village Westwood, the Vatican of film going. His many other worthy pictures include Midnight Run, The Untouchables, Goodfellas, Casino, and A Bronx Tale (soon to be a musical, in De Niro’s debut as a Broadway director).

De Niro’s fine art notwithstanding, I saw something and said something because no American — famous or obscure — should threaten violence against a presidential candidate, especially in such a public and highly visible fashion.

This is deadly serious stuff, and a 73-year-old man of Robert De Niro’s intelligence should know better.

Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor.

***

Deroy Murdock’s complete letter to the Secret Service follows:

Deroy Murdock

October 11, 2016


The United States Secret Service
Office of Intelligence
245 Murray Lane
Washington, D.C. 20223
202-406- 5708
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Via e-mail: incident411@gmail.com

To whom it may concern:

As a concerned American citizen, I hereby request that the United States Secret Service immediately investigate Mr. Robert De Niro for making a violent threat against Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump.

In an Internet video viewed by at least 4.2 million people so far, De Niro says of Trump, “I’d like to punch him in the face.” This comment appears to violate a federal law called “Threats against former Presidents and certain other persons” 18 U.S. Code § 879 (a) (3). According to this statute:

“Whoever knowingly and willfully threatens to kill, kidnap, or inflict bodily harm upon…a major candidate for the office of President or Vice President…shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.”

A visibly agitated De Niro also says of Trump: “He’s a punk. He’s a dog. He’s a pig.” These rude, uncivil words are protected by the First Amendment, and deservedly so.

However, De Niro crossed the line when he threatened to injure Trump. Even if De Niro does not intend to act upon his very public words, they could inspire someone else to carry them out. This incitement effect is all the more worrisome given De Niro’s prominence as one of America’s most beloved actors and the well-deserving winner of two Academy Awards.

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De Niro resides in New York City and should be easy to find. He is a co-owner of the Tribeca Grill (375 Greenwich Street, New York, NY 10013). He also is co-director of A Bronx Tale, a new musical, at the Longacre Theater (220 West 48th Street, New York, NY 10036).

Finally, I do not report this statement with any sense of joy. I long have been a fan of the talented Mr. De Niro. However, I saw something and am saying something because no American — famous or obscure — should threaten violence against a presidential candidate, especially in such a public and highly visible fashion.

Sincerely,

Deroy Murdock

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