ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – After a Missouri senator commented on Facebook “hoping” President Donald Trump is assassinated, we reached out to the U.S. Secret Service for a deeper explanation of how social media threats are investigated.
Related story: Maria Chappelle-Nadal: ‘I Hope Trump Is Assassinated’
Special agent in charge of the Secret Service in St. Louis, Kristina Schmidt tells us, there is a specific division at the Secret Service headquarters in Washington D.C. that investigates the 10s of thousands “direct threats, threats, or just people that have unhealthy interests in (the people we protect).”
Schmidt made it clear to KMOX News that in the specific case of senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal’s comment on Facebook about President Donald Trump, they have not determined if it was illegal but are looking into it.
She says, there is no forum on social media, in letters or in person, that make it okay to make threats against the President.
The first step in these types of cases Schmidt says, is to find out if there is intent. She says the problem is that many times people don’t understand what they are saying.
“The words go out because they’re going out with their emotion but they don’t understand the impact that the words either on paper or online have,” Schmidt says.
“The Secret Service’s job to find out if there was a federal violation committed. The Secret Service has to investigate all of these, whether it’s that someone else should do it, that I will do it, the Secret Service will have to investigate to find out if there is intent there. If there is intent there then we will present the case to the United States attorney’s office and it will be the United States attorney’s office to deem whether or not it’s a violation of law and whether or not they will file charges.”
She says a comment coming from a public figure on social media or any citizen are investigated with the same seriousness.
I just think everyone has that responsibility,” Schmidt says. “With with social media it doesn’t really matter who you are you your words go out to a very large audience so it’s really incumbent on every single one of us to understand the impact of what our words mean.”