21 times Trump baselessly accused people he doesn't like of a crime


Trump has, in some cases, suggested his critics, political opponents, and media he doesn't like be jailed or even executed for 'treason.'

Donald Trump has repeatedly accused his critics and political opponents of committing crimes since taking office, at times even threatening to have them prosecuted, arrested, or even suggesting they should be executed.

On Friday, he threatened to brutalize peaceful protesters on the eve of his first campaign event in months, a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

"Any protesters, anarchists, agitators, looters or lowlifes who are going to Oklahoma please understand, you will not be treated like you have been in New York, Seattle, or Minneapolis," he tweeted. "It will be a much different scene!"

Trump was referring to recent incidents of law enforcement violence against peaceful crowds protesting racism and police brutality. Despite video evidence of those incidents, Trump and his allies have insisted the protesters and anti-fascist groups are to blame for any violence.

Friday's tweet marked at least the 21st time Trump has threatened a political opponent or accused them of a crime.

Here's who else he's targeted in the past.

White House leakers

Trump recently demanded administration officials prosecute anyone who leaked information to the media about his decision to use the White House bunker during recent protests over racism and police brutality, the New York Times reported on Wednesday.

"Mr. Trump has...become consumed, once again, with leaks from the White House, demanding that officials find and prosecute those responsible for information getting out about his trip to the bunker beneath the White House," the outlet reported.

Trump initially claimed he went to the bunker to inspect it, but Attorney General Bill Barr later contradicted that statement, saying the Secret Service had "recommended the president go down to the bunker."

John Bolton

Trump suggested his own former national security adviser, John Bolton, face criminal charges after Bolton published a book critical of Trump, which also details Trump’s efforts to withhold military aid to Ukraine, in order to pressure the country to investigate his political rivals.

Trump was impeached over those actions in December, but was ultimately acquitted following a Senate trial earlier this year.

"I will consider every conversation with me as president highly classified," Trump said on June 15. "If the book gets out, he's broken the law. And I would think that he would have criminal problems."

President Barack Obama

Trump has repeatedly accused President Barack Obama of unspecified crimes since taking office, most recently accusing him of a false conspiracy theory known as "Obamagate."

"Obamagate: It's been going on for a long time. It’s been going on from before I even got elected. And it's a disgrace that it happened," Trump said during a May 11 press conference.

When asked by a reporter to explain what crime Obama had committed, Trump replied, "You know what the crime is," later adding that it was "very obvious to everybody."

Obama has never been charged with any crimes.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer

Trump suggested Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer be arrested or impeached back in March for allegedly threatening members of the Supreme Court when he said Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch would "pay the price" if they restricted abortion rights.

"This is a direct & dangerous threat to the U.S. Supreme Court by Schumer," Trump tweeted on March 4. "If a Republican did this, he or she would be arrested, or impeached. Serious action MUST be taken NOW!"

Schumer said he had not threatened any members of the court but admitted his words "did not come out the way" he intended, adding that he was referring to a "political price" GOP senators would pay for supporting Kavanaugh and Gorsuch, both of whom were nominated by Trump.

Trump, meanwhile, has notably targeted several of the Court's liberal justices in the past, suggesting both Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor may fall victim to certain health conditions, allowing him to replace them, and that the two should recuse themselves from any cases involving his administration because they were biased against him.

Secretary of State John Kerry and Sen. Chris Murphy

In February 2020, Trump accused both former Secretary of State John Kerry and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) of violating the Logan Act for separate conversations the two men had with Iranian officials.

"Kerry & Murphy illegally violated the Logan Act," Trump tweeted on Feb. 19. "This is why Iran is not making a deal. Must be dealt with strongly!"

The Logan Act, a 1799 law, makes it illegal to negotiate with a foreign government without permission from the federal government. Neither men were charged with crimes.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

Trump accused Speaker Nancy Pelosi of criminal activity in February after Pelosi ripped up a copy of Trump's 2020 State of the Union address following his speech.

"First of all, it's an official document. You're not allowed. It's illegal what she did. She broke the law," Trump said on Feb. 7.

According to Politifact, Pelosi did not break the law.

The law to which Trump appeared to be referring "is meant to prevent people from destroying records in official government repositories such as the National Archives," Politifact noted at the time.

"Pelosi ripped up her own copy of Trump’s address, not the official version sent to the National Archives under the separate Presidential Records Act," the outlet wrote.

Impeachment whistleblower and whistleblower's lawyer

In September 2019, Trump suggested that the whistleblower who first alerted officials to Trump's July phone call with the Ukrainian president was a traitor who should be executed.

"Basically, that person never saw the report, never saw the call, he never saw the call — heard something and decided that he or she or whoever the hell they saw — they're almost a spy," Trump said during a closed-door event, according to a recording obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

"I want to know who's the person, who's the person who gave the whistleblower the information? Because that's close to a spy," he said. "You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? The spies and treason, we used to handle it a little differently than we do now."

Treason is a crime punishable by death.

In November 2019, Trump also threatened to sue Mark Zaid, the whistleblower's attorney, over tweets Zaid wrote in 2017 that were critical of Trump. Trump also said Zaid should be arrested for treason.

"The whistleblower is a disgrace to our country," Trump said. "And his lawyer, who said the worst thing possible two years ago — he should be sued. And maybe for treason. Maybe for treason. But he should be sued."

In 2017, Zaid had tweeted about "a coup" within the administration, and later defended the comment, saying it "referred to those working inside the Administration who were already, just a week into office, already standing up to him to enforce recognized rules of law."

Rep. Adam Schiff

Trump suggested Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), chair of the House Intelligence Committee, be arrested for treason back in September 2019 over Schiff's decision to dramatically paraphrase Trump's July conversation with the Ukrainian president.

"Rep. Adam Schiff illegally made up a FAKE & terrible statement, pretended it to be mine as the most important part of my call to the Ukrainian President, and read it aloud to Congress and the American people," Trump tweeted on Sept. 30. "It bore NO relationship to what I said on the call. Arrest for Treason?"


In July 2019, Trump said that his administration would look into treason charges against Google after Peter Thiel, a wealthy tech investor and Trump supporter, suggested on Fox News that Google was illegally working with the Chinese government.

"'Billionaire Tech Investor Peter Thiel believes Google should be investigated for treason. He accuses Google of working with the Chinese Government.' @foxandfriends A great and brilliant guy who knows this subject better than anyone! The Trump Administration will take a look!" Trump tweeted.

The New York Times

Trump also accused the New York Times of treason in June 2019 after the outlet ran a story about the administration ramping up cyber attacks on Russia's power grid.

"Do you believe that the Failing New York Times just did a story stating that the United States is substantially increasing Cyber Attacks on Russia," Trump tweeted. "This is a virtual act of Treason by a once great paper so desperate for a story, any story, even if bad for our Country."

Trump added that the story was not true and claimed journalists at the Times were cowards and the enemy of the people.


Trump famously claimed that the FBI and other government agencies spied on his 2016 campaign because they had investigated his campaign's various ties to Russia. In May 2019, Trump said such activities amounted to treason.

"My Campaign for President was conclusively spied on," Trump tweeted. "Nothing like this has ever happened in American Politics. A really bad situation. TREASON means long jail sentences, and this was TREASON!"

James Comey

Trump has claimed former FBI Director James Comey committed treason for his role investigating links between Russia and the 2016 Trump campaign, something for which Trump ultimately ousted him.

At a White House press conference on May 19, 2019, a reporter noted that Trump had recently accused several of his critics and opponents of "treason."

"Who specifically are you accusing of treason?" the reporter asked.

"I think a number of people. And I think what you look is that they have unsuccessfully tried to take down the wrong person," Trump replied. "If you look at Comey, if you look at [former FBI Deputy Director Andrew] McCabe, if you look at people probably higher than that."

Peter Strzok and Lisa Page

Trump repeatedly accused Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, two career FBI officials, of treason after a series of texts between the two showed they supported Hillary Clinton for president in 2016.

Strzok and Page "talked about the insurance policy just in case Crooked Hillary loses," Trump said during a May 16, 2019, White House press conference, referring to a message in which the two discussed whether it was even worth investigating links between Trump's campaign and Russia, as they believed it unlikely he would be elected president and pushing the subject might compromise critical sources.

"And that didn't work out too well for them," Trump said during that press conference, insisting the "insurance policy" was in fact the entire Russia investigation, which he claimed was launched to undermine his presidency. "...That's treason. That's treason. They couldn’t win the election and that's what happened."

The Mueller investigation team

Trump claimed members of Robert Mueller's investigation team were liars who may have committed treason after a redacted version of Mueller's final report was released in April 2019. The report established a number of links between the Trump campaign and Russia, and detailed at least 10 instances of possible obstruction by Trump.

"Statements are made about me by certain people in the Crazy Mueller Report, in itself written by 18 Angry Democrat Trump Haters, which are fabricated & totally untrue," Trump tweeted. "It is now finally time to turn the tables and bring justice to some very sick and dangerous people who have committed very serious crimes, perhaps even spying or treason."

House Democrats

Trump accused Democrats of treason, a crime punishable by death, twice in the span of a few months in 2019.

On April 10 that year, Trump said that Democratic opposition to a wall along the U.S-Mexico border amounted to treason.

"I think what the Democrats are doing with the Border is TREASONOUS," Trump tweeted. "Their Open Border mindset is putting our Country at risk. Will not let this happen!"

Several days before that tweet, Democrats had sued the administration over Trump's decision to declare a national emergency at the southern border as a means to take federal funds allocated to the military and use it for the wall.

Later that year, after House Democrats opened an impeachment inquiry into him, Trump accused House Democrats of committing treason again.

"You don’t impeach Presidents for doing a good (great!) job," Trump tweeted on Sept. 13. "No Obstruction, No Collusion, only treasonous crimes committed by the other side, and led by the Democrats. Sad!"


Trump has frequently referred to the press as the "enemy of the people," suggesting that by reporting on his administration they are committing a crime.

Trump, for instance, was unhappy with media coverage of his 2018 meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and claimed the media committed treason for not portraying the meeting in a better light.

"First of all, we came to a wonderful agreement," Trump told former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in an interview on the Trinity Broadcasting Network in June 2018. "It's a shame the fake news covers it the way they do. It's really, it's almost treasonous, you want to know the truth."

According to Bolton's book, "The Room Where It Happened," Trump said on another occasion that journalists should be jailed or killed if they do not reveal their sources.

"These people should be executed. They are scumbags," Trump said in the summer of 2019, according to the Washington Post, which received an advance copy of Bolton's book.

In a June 2019 White House interview with Time, Trump threatened to jail a photographer after they attempted to take a photo of a letter from North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

And in 2018, a memo from Comey showed that Trump had once suggested journalists who wrote about leaks from the administration should spend "a couple days in jail."

Andrew McCabe

Trump suggested former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe committed treason for his role in the investigation into the Trump campaign's various ties to Russia.

In a February 2019 tweet, Trump quoted Fox News host Sean Hannity, claiming McCabe had "admitted to plotting a coup (government overthrow) when he was serving in the FBI, before he was fired for lying & leaking." After quoting Hannity, Trump added, "Treason!"

Anonymous administration op-ed author

Trump accused an anonymous administration official of treason for a Sept. 5, 2018, op-ed in the New York Times that was critical of Trump and claimed "many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations."

In an interview on Sept. 7 that year, Trump said the Times "should never have [published] that, because what they have done is virtually…. It’s treason. You can call it a lot of things."


During a March 2016 campaign rally, Trump asked law enforcement officials to arrest protesters and "file whatever charges you want."

"I hope they arrest these people because they're really violating all of us," Trump said at a rally in Kansas City, Missouri. "They deserve to be arrested."

Hillary Clinton

During the 2016 election, Trump repeatedly claimed his opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, had committed crimes for which she deserved to go to prison. At rallies, he led crowds or stood by as his supporters chanted "lock her up."

Trump specifically claimed Clinton deserved jail time for using a private server during her time as secretary to conduct government business.

Clinton was repeatedly cleared of criminal activity.

In August 2016, Trump appeared to call for Clinton to be murdered if she won the election.

"If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks," Trump said at a North Carolina campaign rally. "Although the Second Amendment people — maybe there is, I don’t know."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.