“It could have created violence, it kind of is hate speech.”
CNN anchor Christiane Amanpour said Tuesday that Americans who chanted “lock her up” in response to former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s much-debated email scandal were engaging in “hate speech.”
Speaking to former FBI Director James Comey about the 2016 campaign, Amanpour asked Comey if the kind of language Trump supporters were using at rallies should have been “shut down” by the FBI.
“Of course, ‘Lock her up’ was a feature of the 2016 Trump campaign,” Amanpour said. “Do you in, retrospect, wish that people like yourself, the head of the FBI, the people in charge of law and order, had shut down that language, that it was dangerous potentially, that it could have created violence, that it kind of is hate speech?”
Comey didn’t agree with the notion that political speech should be “shut down.”
“That’s not a role for government to play,” Comey said. “The beauty of this country is people can say what they want, even if it’s misleading and it’s demagoguery.”
However, he did take issue with Republicans for endorsing the rhetoric.
“The people who should have shut it down were Republicans who understand the rule of law and the values that they claim to stand for. Shame on them, but it wasn’t a role for government to play,” Comey said.
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“Lock her up” was a common chant used by Trump supporters during the 2016 campaign. Many accused Clinton, Trump’s opponent, of breaking the law by using a private server to conduct government business in her role as secretary of state.
In an infamous July 2016 press conference, Comey announced he would not be recommending charges against Clinton in the case, though he made clear the former secretary of state “should have known” better and was “extremely careless” in her use of the server.
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