Trump is "dripping with crocodile tears" as he offers to help reduce anger, Norm Eisen told Insider.
It is "a threat that he has the power to unleash more violence," Eisen said.
Trump has been attacking the FBI for searching his Mar-a-Lago home rather than pacifying allies.
Former President Donald Trump is "dripping with crocodile tears" as he offers to help reduce the country's temperature, all while attacking law enforcement for searching his Mar-a-Lago home, Norm Eisen, a former White House special counsel, told Insider.
Trump has been making offers to "help the country" in recent days while also issuing warnings about the anger he has helped incite with baseless claims about the FBI, accusing them of breaking into Mar-a-Lago and alleging that they could have "planted anything."
Instead, two legal experts, including Eisen, told Insider that Trump's offer to help, which came after agents recovered top secret and other classified documents at his home, should be viewed as a threat.
"This is no genuine offer to help," Eisen, a special assistant to the president for ethics and government reform during the Obama administration, wrote in an email. Eisen more recently served as special counsel to the House Judiciary Committee from 2019 to 2020, including for Trump's first impeachment trial.
"If it were he would not be fanning the flames simultaneously. It is pure malice and a threat that he has the power to unleash more violence," Eisen said.
Former US Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama Joyce Vance agreed. "I view those as threats, not offers of help," said Vance. Given Trump's communications in the past, she said, "this really smacks of the suggestion that DOJ should back off if it wants him to tamp down on the violence that's developing."
The Department of Justice is investigating whether Trump broke three federal laws, including the Espionage Act.
Since the Mar-a-Lago search, federal officials have reported a spike in violent threats against federal agents and their families as well as the federal judge who issued the search warrant. Armed Trump supporters have protested outside an FBI office in Phoenix, Arizona, and a gunman was killed in Cincinnati, Ohio, after trying to breach an FBI building.
The New York Times reported on Saturday that a person close to Trump had reached out to a Justice Department official because Trump wanted to convey a message to Attorney General Merrick Garland: "The country is on fire. What can I do to reduce the heat?"
If Trump really wanted to pacify his supporters, Vance said, he didn't need to communicate with Garland. He could have simply just used his platforms to independently tell his supporters to never resort to violence
"That's what gives it the tinge of a threat," she said. "If it was something heartfelt and legitimate then one suspects he would have just gone ahead and quashed the violence. He knows like everyone else, after we've lived through the January 6th committee hearings, that everyone believed that on January 6, he was the guy who could end the violence. Well, that same thing is true here."
On Monday, Trump went on Fox News Digital with a warning about angry people: "Whatever we can do to help— because the temperature has to be brought down in the country. If it isn't, terrible things are going to happen."
Even during that interview, he lashed out at the FBI, accusing them of breaking into his home in a "sneak attack," though their search warrant came after months of federal inquiries. He kept up the attacks hours later against "gun toting FBI Agents," the Department of Justice, and the federal judge, and called for the release of the unredacted search warrant affidavit "pertaining to this horrible and shocking BREAK-IN."
And Trump's lawyer Alina Habba said on Newsmax Monday that if Trump is charged, convicted, and disqualified from running for president, "that would cause so much mayhem. That would be a monstrous mistake."
A former Special Assistant to the President during the Trump administration, who asked to speak on background but whose identity is known to Insider, described Trump's actions as "only a power play to make the AG look small and highlight Trump's talking point that the search was unnecessary."
Barbara McQuade, a former US attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, suggested that the message to Garland "could be a request to 'let this thing go' in the interest of public safety." But, she said, it's hard to say what Trump intended.
Given the context of the January 6 insurrection on the US Capitol, "none of this is happening in a vacuum," Vance said, adding: "This is all happening to a former president who appreciates his ability to animate his followers to violence with his words."
"He's turning the temperature up instead of down," Vance said.
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