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Republican senators were warned “vote against the president and your head will be on a pike” regarding the impeachment trial, reports CBS News.
The revelation and threat reportedly came from one of President Donald Trump’s confidantes.
In opening statements, House managers examined the debunked conspiracy theories invoked by Pres. Trump.— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) January 23, 2020
A @POTUS confidant tells CBS News that GOP senators were warned: “vote against the president & your head will be on a pike.”
Here's @nancycordes https://t.co/LV1Y6QveIh pic.twitter.com/tLB9EpoWr8
Clearly the threat wasn’t meant to be taken literally. It is a fitting warning, nevertheless, given how enthralled Republican congresspeople are with Trump’s endorsement on the campaign trail.
The practice of publicly displaying severed heads on pikes dates back to the Renaissance, when prisoners’ heads were placed on the so-called “Traitor’s Gate” of London Bridge. Prisoners—many accused of treason, like future Queen Elizabeth I—passed under this bridge on their way to confinement in the Tower of London.
The heads were meant to serve as a chilling reminder of their likely fate, and a deterrent to others tempted to go against the crown.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly accused a long list of people—including the Ukraine whistleblower, FBI agents, prominent Democrats such as Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), and so many others—of treason for seeking his impeachment and removal from office.
The fact that the senators weren’t actually being threatened with execution and public display of their decapitated head did little to quell the outrage. People apparently would rather have senators make up their own minds on impeachment than vote blindly based on threats from a president who seems to see no limit to his power.
#HeadonaPike started trending alongside comments like, “What the fuck? The president is not a fucking king or a mob boss. You GOP senators need to fucking stand up for yourselves and your country and do what’s right. Grow a spine.”
“Jury tampering much,” tweeted Dr. John Biggan, a Democratic congressional candidate in Texas.
Many agreed with Biggan’s assessment that the threat potentially interferes with the proceedings and gives the impression that the Republican senators have been rendered incapable of impartiality.
Remedial search of trump’s timeline lets us all know, republicans got the message— ᎠᏌNᎬᎷYᎢᎻᎪNᏩ™️ (@Kris_Sacrebleu) January 24, 2020
No one moreso than @tedcruz @SenJoniErnst @MarshaBlackburn @JohnCornyn
All in lockstep w a criminal president
And they all are#HeadOnAPike #maga https://t.co/yiTyulALfZ
According to CBS, GOP senators were warned: “vote against the president and your head will be on a pike.” We can always be sure of finding Trump on the Low Road. There’s no need to look anywhere else for the evil bastard. #HeadOnAPike #RemoveTrump pic.twitter.com/fACWsvmSKd— Debra French Bloom⚖️ (@DebraFBloom) January 24, 2020
Trump’s and his defenders’ timelines were peppered with comments from disgruntled people referencing the allegation.
Hey Lil' Marco, will your #HeadOnAPike (be on a pike) when you vote to acquit? Pathetic! Biggest coverup in US history. Might as well stop tweeting about Venezuela and other corrupt countries. US now tops the list.— Teresa Lane (@EditorLane) January 24, 2020
As it picked up steam this morning, #HeadonaPike became a meme.
"Nothing is wrong with threatening Senators' lives. The threat was perfect. Anyone listening would say it was the most perfect threat they had ever heard." - Trump in about 2 hours#HeadOnAPike— Liddle’ Savage (@littledeekay) January 24, 2020
I’d say that #HeadOnAPike lowers Trump to King Joffrey levels, but even Joffrey at least gets more credit for showing and not telling his threat.— Brendan Hay (@B_Hay) January 24, 2020
Electorally and - I cannot stress this enough - metaphorically, it is our job to put the @GOP’s #HeadOnAPike in the #2020Elections.— (((evan shapiro))) (@eshap) January 24, 2020
(someone will have to explain what a metaphor is to #MAGA) pic.twitter.com/wEc7moopXB
Although the story generated plenty of anger among the electorate on social media, there doesn’t seem to be much chance that it will sway Republicans.
As the CBS News noted, “So far, their heads appear to be safe.”
Claire Goforth is a Jacksonville, Florida-based journalist covering politics, culture, justice, and unicorns. Her work has appeared in publications ranging from regional alt-weeklies to Al Jazeera.