WASHINGTON – A South Florida man was arrested Friday after accused of threatening to kill several high-profile Democratic lawmakers, specifically citing his support for President Donald Trump and his disdain for Rep. Ilhan Omar in light of her comments about the 9/11 terror attacks.
On Tuesday, John Kless, who was arrested in Tamarac, Florida, left threatening messages at the offices of Rep. Eric Swalwell and Sen. Cory Booker, both of whom are running for president in 2020, along with freshman Rep. Rashida Tlaib. Tlaib and Omar were the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, a federal criminal complaint states.
In each of the calls, he cited Omar's controversial comments about 9/11 and used a wide variety of expletives and racial slurs to threaten the lawmakers. Omar, who says she's been dealing with an influx of death threats, was recently criticized after saying the terror attacks were "something" done by "some people." Detractors, including the president, said she was making light of America's deadliest terror attack but supporters said Omar was simply attempting to differentiate terrorists from all Muslims.
Kless, in his message to Tlaib, called both Muslim lawmakers a variety of racial slurs, repeatedly mentioning the hijab worn by Omar, stuck up for Trump in his attacks on Omar and accused Tlaib of being responsible for the 9/11 terror attacks, court records state.
"I'd like to take that b**** and throw her right off the Empire State Building," he said of Omar, Capitol Police wrote in the complaint.
In another message, Kless attacked Booker over his race then said: "we need to kill all you motherf******." He spoke about Trump and the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va. that turned deadly when a white nationalist drove into a crowd of counter-protesters. The attack left one woman, Heather Heyer, dead.
He argued that the attack wasn't a big deal because it only took one life, the charging document states.
Kless then threatened Booker, saying he and others would be the ones to "pay."
"Don't you worry, you government officials, will be in the graves where you f****** belong," he said on Booker's voicemail, Capitol Police said in the charging document.
Kless cited gun-control laws in his message to Swalwell, saying "the day you come after our guns...is the day you'll be dead." He said Swalwell would "pay," threatened to put him on his "deathbed...along with all the rest of you Democrats" then said the American people were going to "war."
Capitol Police tracked Kless' phone number to his home in South Florida, where he was arrested and charged with interstate transmission threats.
Omar, who previously sparked controversy with comments that were condemned as playing into anti-Semitic tropes, has said she has received many threats since taking office in January.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday that she was ordering Capitol Police to conduct a "security assessment" to ensure Omar's safety after the president posted an incendiary tweet Omar's 9/11 remarks.
"Following the President’s tweet, I spoke with the Sergeant-at-Arms to ensure that Capitol Police are conducting a security assessment to safeguard Congresswoman Omar, her family and her staff," Pelosi said in a statement. "They will continue to monitor and address the threats she faces."
"The President’s words weigh a ton, and his hateful and inflammatory rhetoric creates real danger. President Trump must take down his disrespectful and dangerous video."
In the tweet, Trump included a video of Omar's remarks repeated along with ominous music, played over images of the World Trade Center engulfed in flames with New Yorkers running for safety.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump supporter threatens to kill Democratic lawmakers over Rep. Omar's 9/11 comments, docs say