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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.
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.
Trump’s and his defenders’ timelines were peppered with comments from disgruntled people referencing the allegation.
As it picked up steam this morning, #HeadonaPike became a meme.
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.