A caller claiming to be a gay man left a violent message for U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell, threatening to shoot, kill, and “fuck up” the California Democrat and LGBTQ ally.
Swalwell tweeted his account of the message he received from a staffer at his congressional office.
“A staffer of mine — who’s 1 month into her job — received a call from a man saying he’s coming to our office w/ an assault rifle to kill me. I hesitate to share this but how else do I tell you we are in violent times, & the architects are Trump & McCarthy,” the congressman tweeted, referring to former President Donald Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). “Bloodshed is coming.”
A staffer of mine—who’s 1 month into her job—received a call from a man saying he’s coming to our office w/ an assault rifle to kill me. I hesitate to share this but how else do I tell you we are in violent times, & the architects are Trump & McCarthy. Bloodshed is coming.
— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) August 30, 2022
Swalwell then shared a memo his staffer wrote regarding the threat. The caller allegedly asked for Swalwell’s location, asked to speak to the congressman, and, when told the congressman wasn’t available, went on a rant on gay issues.
“[The caller] said he is a gay man, but he doesn’t take it up the ass, he gives it,” the staffer wrote in a memo summarizing the call. “Used the F-slur several times. Mentioned he has guns and wants to ‘Fuck [Swalwell] up.’ Also made a statement saying he will come to the office, or to wherever he is to hurt him. He will bring guns (AR-15s) to kill him and fuck him up.”
The caller gave his name and phone number at the staffer’s request, and the staffer reportedly managed to obtain a recording of the call, according to the Daily Mail.
Congress is currently on recess until after Labor Day, meaning most lawmakers are in their home districts or on the campaign trail ahead of November’s hotly contested midterm elections.
It is unclear whether U.S. Capitol Police are investigating the threat. A spokesperson told Forbes that the department “does not discuss potential security measures” involving lawmakers.
It is unclear what specifically motivated the caller’s hatred of Swalwell, but the California congressman has been one of the more vocal critics of the Trump administration.
That, coupled with an increase in violent threats against the government since the FBI’s search of former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home — in which the department sought out highly classified government documents that the president had allegedly kept since leaving office — may have potentially been enough to stoke the caller’s rage.
For Swalwell, the threat is nothing new. Just two months ago, he received a phone message from a caller threatening to kill his three children. Earlier this month, Swalwell released an audio recording of a man saying he wished Swalwell and his family would be decapitated.
“I hope someone cuts that motherfucker’s throat from ear to ear. Cut his fucking head off. Cut his wife’s head off, cut his kids’ head off,” the caller said, later chanting, “Trump 2024.”
Swalwell said he believes the caller’s threats of violence may have been inspired by the Mar-a-Lago raid and accused Republicans of stoking anger for political gain.
“LISTEN to this death threat against my children,” Swalwell tweeted at the time. “Since the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, Trump, McCarthy, and MAGA Republicans are stoking violent rhetoric against lawmakers and law enforcement. Someone is going to get killed.”
Five days later, one of the congressional interns working for Swalwell’s office received a separate threat, in which a caller said that, within 80 days, he was going to “kick Congressman Swalwell’s door down and have federal agents put a gun to his head,” ostensibly as part of a raid investigating the congressman’s “connections with China.”
According to Forbes, the number of threats made against members of Congress has skyrocketed in recent years — a sign of increasing political polarization and a testament to the unhinged nature of political extremists, who appear to have been emboldened by anti-establishment sentiment being stoked by the populist right and the much smaller, but just as vitriolic, far left.
More than 9,600 threats were made against congressional lawmakers last year, a number that is more than 10 times the 902 threats recorded against members in 2016. Members of both parties have been targeted, with Republican Reps. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.) and Liz Cheney (Wyo.) receiving death threats for voting to impeach Trump and participating in committee hearings aimed at investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol in 2021.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), the most well-known House Democrats who are often used as bogeymen by Republican pundits, regularly receive threats against their lives, with a Florida man who threatened both women being sentenced to 18 months in prison in April, and a separate QAnon conspiracy theorist who threatened Pelosi being sentenced to 28 months in prison last December.
U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), a staunch ally of former President Trump, was seriously wounded in a shooting at the annual Congressional Baseball Game in 2017.
The shooting was committed by a 66-year-old Bernie Sanders supporter, was seemingly inspired by his hatred for Trump and Republicans.
These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and MetroWeekly.com remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!