Kari Lake’s vow to defend Trump with guns threatens democracy, Democrat says
Ruben Gallego, running for US Senate next year, says Arizona Republican’s response to Trump’s federal indictment is dangerous
The Arizona Republican Kari Lake’s vow of armed resistance over Donald Trump’s indictment for retaining classified records “threatens the very core of our democracy”, an Arizonan Democratic congressman said.
Ruben Gallego is running to replace the former Democrat Kyrsten Sinema in the US Senate next year.
He said: “I know this language isn’t just hyperbole – it’s dangerous and it threatens the very core of our democracy.”
Trump was already in unprecedented legal jeopardy. He and other Republicans responded to the indictment under the Espionage Act with incendiary rhetoric.
Lake, a TV news anchor turned far-right firebrand, lost the election for Arizona governor last year. She continues to insist without evidence her defeat was the result of fraud.
Speaking to Georgia Republicans on Friday, she said: “I have a message tonight for [US attorney general] Merrick Garland, and Jack Smith, and Joe Biden. And the guys back there in the fake news media, you should listen up as well, this one’s for you.
“If you want to get to president Trump, you’re going to have to go through me, and you’re going to have to go through 75 million Americans just like me.
“And I’m going to tell you, most of us are card-carrying members of the NRA [National Rifle Association]. That’s not a threat – that’s a public service announcement.
“We will not let you lay a finger on President Trump. Frankly, now is the time to cling to our guns and our religion.”
Lake was speaking in place of Mike Pence, Trump’s vice-president who escaped the mob Trump sent to the Capitol on January 6, some of whom chanted about hanging him, to preside over certification of Biden’s election win.
Pence is now a candidate for the Republican nomination but like all others he trails Trump by large margins, as the former president ruthlessly capitalises – and successfully monetises – on the various charges against him.
Trump faces criminal charges at state level, in New York over a hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, and federally, over his retention of classified records and obstruction of moves to secure their return.
In a New York civil trial, found liable for sexual assault and defamation against the writer E Jean Carroll, he was ordered to pay $5m.
Also expected to be indicted over his election subversion, at state level in Georgia and federally in an investigation also supervised by Smith, Trump denies wrongdoing.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Lake’s remarks in Columbus on Friday met with a standing ovation.
Responding to a reporter, Lake tweeted: “I meant what I said.”
Gallego said: “As a marine who went all the way to Iraq to defend this country, our democracy, and our freedoms, I know this language isn’t just hyperbole – it’s dangerous and it threatens the very core of our democracy.”
He also said Lake “owes every America-loving Arizonan an apology”, as the state had rejected “her off-the-rails rhetoric that does nothing but sow doubt in our elections”.
But Lake remains an eager Trump ally, seen by some as a possible pick for vice-president. On Friday, she said she was “more than willing to fill Mike Pence’s shoes”.
Like Trump, who features on a song splicing his voice with those of imprisoned Capitol rioters, Lake has released a single. Its title, 81 Million Votes My Ass, is a reference to Biden’s winning total.