After news broke that the FBI searched former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Florida on Monday, his supporters openly called for an armed violent response, and ultimately, civil war.
“Civil War 2.0 just kicked off,” one user wrote on Twitter, with another adding, “One step closer to a kinetic civil war.” Others said they were ready to take part: “I already bought my ammo.”
MAGA, QAnon, and far-right message boards and Telegram channels lit up Monday night with calls for a violent response to what some extremists see as a political attack directed by the Biden administration.
“This is how you light the match to a civil war,” one user on Twitter wrote in response to the news.
Similar rhetoric was shared in far-right channels on Telegram. “Civil war coming to America, there won't be any more elections,” one member said.
“A total war on dissidents is about to unfold. Not behind closed doors but blatantly, in public,” another member wrote in a different far-right channel. “Attacks on Alex Jones, Trump, and Patriot Day defendants are only setting the precedent for the future of us as the only opposition to the Deep State.”
In QAnon channels, there were some conflicting responses, with some conspiracy believers calling for armed responses and others suggesting the FBI was all part of the plan. A prominent QAnon influencer known as QAnon John is urging followers not to call for civil war, as this, the influencer said, is what the deep state wants them to do.
Within hours of the FBI search, however, the term “civil war” was already trending on Twitter, and hundreds of Trump supporters had already gathered outside Mar-a-Lago. Some claimed on Telegram channels that they were there to protect the former president.
In response to one meme suggesting gun sales and boating accidents would soar in the wake of the FBI raid, one member of TheDonald, a pro-Trump message board, wrote: “If it's time to hide them, it's time to use them.”
The top comment on the main thread about the raid on Tuesday morning was: “Lock and load.” In the same thread, another user wrote: “It certainly feels like they’re treating it as a hot civil war. When this is all said and done, the people responsible for these tyrannical actions need to be hanged.”
Another person responded to the same meme by saying that “people need to start learning about 3d printing,” referring to the rise of virtually untraceable “ghost guns.”
These same forums also hosted similarly violent rhetoric in the buildup to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
Trump’s own comments confirming the FBI search used the former president’s typically inflammatory language to describe a lawful search of his home.
“My beautiful home, Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach Florida is currently under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of FBI agents,” Trump wrote. “They even broke into my safe. What is the difference between this and Watergate, where operatives broke into the Democrat (sic) National Committee?”
Statements from mainstream Republican leaders and lawmakers, as well as right-wing media personalities, also pushed some of this rhetoric.
Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene said, without evidence, that the FBI action was an indication that the agency had been “weaponized” by the Democrats and President Joe Biden to persecute Trump.
“This is the rogue behavior of communist countries, NOT the United States of America!!!,” Greene tweeted. “These are the type of things that happen in countries during civil war.”
The Republican leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, issued a warning to Attorney General Merrick Garland over the FBI’s actions.
However, the FBI’s search could only have been conducted with a warrant signed by a federal judge and with the backing of senior leadership at the Department of Justice. The bar would likely be set very high for probable cause in order to search the home of a former president.
“I think there is going to be some more action you are going to see out on the streets from the base after they see this break tonight,” commentator Jesse Watters said on Fox News. “They've had it with what this corrupt government and what the FBI has done."
Stephen Miller, a former senior adviser to Trump, appeared on Fox News calling the FBI’s action an “abomination.”
"We are truly living in a situation where the FBI has become a praetorian guard from Rome where they take it unto themselves to decide who wields power in this country,” Miller added.
Far-right troll Jack Posobiec unleashed an unhinged torrent of tweets in the wake of the FBI search, writing, among other things, that the “federal security state has declared war on Donald J Trump and his supporters.”
“Are you ready?” Posobiec asked his 1.8 million followers.
Right-wing media personality Candace Owens called for the FBI to be “legally and formally dissolved,” while Kari Lake, a Trump-endorsed candidate for governor in Arizona, called Monday “one of the darkest days in American history,” later adding “not a single one of us is safe.”
Fox News host and podcaster Dan Bongino called the FBI’s action “some third-world bullshit,” a phrase repeated by Trump’s son Eric, Trump spokeswoman Liz Harrington, and the official Twitter account of the Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee.
While some attempted to couch their calls to arms in codewords, others were more open about their desire for violence. “Time to take the gloves off,” far-right activist and GOP congressional candidate Laura Loomer wrote on her Telegram channel. “It’s been time. If you’re a freedom-loving American, you must remove the words decorum and civility from your vocabulary. This is a WAR! And it’s time to obliterate these communists.”