A Missouri lawmaker is under mounting pressure to resign after she said on social media she hopes President Trump is assassinated, following his response to violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville.
Democratic state Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal went on her personal Facebook page Thursday morning to vent two days after the president blamed “both sides” for the brutality.
“I put up a statement saying, ‘I really hate Trump. He’s causing trauma and nightmares.’ That was my original post,” she told the Kansas City Star. The Facebook post received many responses, Chappelle-Nadal said, and to one she replied, “I hope Trump is assassinated!”
Chappelle-Nadal later explained that she didn’t actually wish harm to come to Trump but wrote it out of frustration.
“I didn’t mean what I put up. Absolutely not,” Chappelle-Nadal told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “It was in response to the concerns that I am hearing from residents of St. Louis.”
“There are people who are afraid of white supremacists,” she added. “There are people who are having nightmares. There are people who are afraid of going out in the streets. It’s worse than even Ferguson.”
Though the senator quickly deleted the comment, an image of the statement swept social media, catching the attention of the Secret Service and prompting calls for her to step down.
The Secret Service said it is “looking into the comments,” adding that all threats made against the president, vice president and other protected people are investigated, whether the threats are direct, implied or made in passing, according to the Associated Press.
Much like when comedian Kathy Griffin released a video and photo of her holding a mask made in the image of Trump’s bloody severed head, a backlash soon came.
On Friday Republican Gov. Eric Greitens weighed in on Twitter, saying that if Chappelle-Nadal will not resign, the state senate can vote to remove her.
“I believe we should,” he said.
His comments follow condemnation and similar appeals for Chappelle-Nadal’s resignation from Democrats, including U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.), who said that Chappelle-Nadal is “an embarrassment to our state,” according to the Post-Dispatch.
Senate Minority Leader Gina Walsh said in a statement that, “There is too much rancor and hate in today’s political discourse, and Sen. Chappelle-Nadal should be ashamed of herself for adding her voice to this toxic environment.”
At a news conference Friday, Missouri Lt. Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, said that if Chappelle-Nadal did not resign, he would “in my position as president of the Missouri Senate, immediately seek the expulsion pursuant to Article III Section 18 of the Missouri Constitution,” according to the Post-Dispatch.
State Rep. Joshua Peters (D-St. Louis) issued a formal request to a Missouri Senate committee that handles ethics, asking for an investigation into Chappelle-Nadal’s remark.
“There’s a level of decorum,” he said, according to NBC affiliate KSDK. “There’s a level of debate. There’s a level of respect that comes with the office that we hold. If she can’t understand that then she needs to step aside.”
Chappelle-Nadal has been outspoken about issues in the past.
The lawmaker, who joined the state Senate in 2010 and represents District 14, which includes Ferguson, has been critical of the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in 2014.
Chappelle-Nadal once likened those looking to hand control of the St. Louis police force from the state to local authorities to “house slaves,” according to the Post Dispatch.
In 2014, she criticized the response of then-Gov. Jay Nixon (D) to unrest in Ferguson, at one point tweeting the governor, “I want a public apology for the Missouri Hwy Patrol excessively tear gassing a Senator & her constituents for 3 hrs 1st night!”
Following Thursday’s social media outburst, Chappelle-Nadal told the Associated Press that though she should not have posted the comment, she was exercising her right to free speech.
Trump’s comments about Charlottesville “make it easier for racists to be racists,” she told the Kansas City Star. “As long as I have a voice, I’m going to talk about the damage [it] is creating in this nation.”
Chappelle-Nadal did not immediate respond to requests for comment.
She was, however, active on Twitter late Thursday, retweeting those who supported her and refusing calls to resign.
And on Friday, she told the Post-Dispatch that she has met with and explained to the Secret Service that “the anger I experienced was related to the trauma of my constituents are going through” and she “did not wish to harm anyone.”
“I could have chosen and should have chosen better language. I do not think it is worthy of expelling me from the Senate,” Chappelle-Nadal said. “I am owning up to it. He makes me mad from time to time. He says outrageous things. My emotions got the best of me.”
She reiterated that she has no intention of resigning.