Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Kid Who Tried to Shoot Drumpf

Why isn’t the assassination attempt on Donald Trump bigger news?

The No. 1 trending question related to Donald Trump on Google right now is "Who tried to shoot Trump?" Which means a lot of people don't know the answer. Which is probably because the assassination attempt on the presumptive Republican presidential nominee hasn't been covered as a major news story.

The answer, authorities say, is Michael Steven Sandford, a 20-year-old British citizen who was in the United States illegally after overstaying his visa. Sandford allegedly tried to pull a gun from the holster of a police officer at a Trump rally in Las Vegas on Saturday. He was arrested and later told the Secret Service that he had driven to the event from California and had been planning to kill the candidate for a year, according to a criminal complaint filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Nevada.

News outlets have certainly reported on the incident, but it hasn't gotten anything resembling wall-to-wall coverage. Cable news shows devoted little time to Sandford Tuesday morning and afternoon. Trump's dismal fundraising report from May and his recent firing of campaign manager Corey Lewandowski received far more attention. Trump called in to the Trump-friendly "Fox & Friends" morning show and wasn't even asked about the attempt on his life.

It's worth noting that the real estate magnate didn't bring it up, either. Trump hasn't so much as tweeted about it, which suggests he doesn't consider it a huge deal or doesn't want to talk about it.

The most obvious explanation is that Sandford doesn't appear to have come particularly close to completing his alleged mission. He didn't even succeed in arming himself at the Trump rally. Sandford's plot seems to have been feebly unsophisticated; he told authorities the extent of his training was a visit the day before the rally to a gun range, where he fired 20 rounds from a 9mm Glock pistol, a common service weapon, to learn how to use one.

The crowd at Donald Trump’s Las Vegas rally on June 18, where Michael Steven Sandford was arrested. (Getty)

In short, calling Sandford a legitimate threat might be giving him too much credit. A rough analogue might be Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, who tried to kill President Obama in November 2011, but came nowhere close to doing so. Ortega-Hernandez got off shots — but fired aimlessly at the White House from 750 yards away — and hadn't done enough research to know the president was in San Diego at the time.

Other assassination attempts that failed by a long shot have received scant coverage, too. A previous, would-be Obama assassin, James McVay, also hatched a plot that involved swiping a police officer's gun. After stabbing a 75-year-old-woman to death in South Dakota and stealing her car, McVay drove to Wisconsin, where he planned to ambush a cop and take his firearm, according to statements he made to police after his arrest in July 2011. McVay said he planned to continue on through Chicago and Indianapolis and eventually kill the president on a golf range in Washington. But he was apprehended near Madison, Wis. CNN covered McVay's arrest and scheme, but some other national news outlets, including The Washington Post and New York Times, appear to have skipped the story altogether.

McVay was sentenced to death in 2014 for killing the South Dakota woman and hanged himself in his prison cell five months later.

From Trump's perspective, Sandford doesn't fit neatly into his campaign narrative. The billionaire has positioned himself as a staunch defender of the Second Amendment, so he certainly won't use the failed assassination attempt to push for gun control. Sandford is an illegal immigrant — and Trump is all about deporting illegal aliens — but the candidate's focus is on building a wall to keep out Mexicans and barring foreign Muslims from entering the United States. A Briton who overstayed his visa isn't a very good poster boy for the cause.

If Trump wanted to make this episode big news, he could do it. He's proven his ability to set the agenda over and over again. But he doesn't seem interested, and the media doesn't either. Indeed, to both sides, that could simply be because they don't want to give a poorly conceived assassination plot more attention than it's due.

But some on the right see a double-standard at play. The conservative news site Hot Air posed a hypothetical on Tuesday:

Can you imagine the coverage we'd be seeing if someone had attempted to shoot Hillary Clinton? The same could be said if it had happened with Barack Obama in the summer of 2008. Questions would be debated on air for weeks on end about the evil lurking in the hearts of men and why someone would be so desperate to prevent the election of the first black or female president. But when someone plots for more than a year to kill Trump, travels across the country to find an opportunity and then launches his attempt, it creates barely a ripple in the media pond.

Glenn Beck, a prominent conservative commentator who opposes Trump, was recently suspended for a week by SiriusXM after Brad Thor, who writes political thrillers, made comments on Beck's radio program that some listeners interpreted as a call for Trump to be assassinated.

"If Congress won't remove him from office, what patriot will step up and do that — if, if, he oversteps his mandate as president?" Thor said.

Thor and Beck both said later that the remark was not about assassinating Trump.

But for anyone already convinced that the media hates Trump, the coverage of Sandford's assassination attempt (or lack thereof) will probably only strengthen their belief.

More info on the would-be killer suggests that he is sane, but does have impairments.

From: gawker.com

...In a complaint filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Nevada, 20-year-old Michael Steven Sandford—a British man living in country illegally after overstaying a visa—was charged with an act of violence on restricted grounds. He was denied bail at a hearing on Monday, the Associated Press reports, and has not entered a plea.

Sanford told Secret Service agents who interviewed him after his arrest that he’d bought also bought a ticket to an upcoming rally in Phoenix, Arizona if he didn’t go through with the plan in Las Vegas. He also told the agents that he expected to be killed during his attempt on Trump’s life.

Sanford’s assigned public defender, Heather Fraley, said that Sandford appeared mentally competent, Las Vegas Now reports. He hasn’t been diagnosed with a mental illness, but he has Asperger syndrome, a form of autism, and was previously suicidal. He has also been treated for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and anorexia.


Parents of Trump’s Would-Be Assassin Say He’s Lovesick and Autistic
from: the Daily Beast   Nico Hines  6/21/16

The British mom and dad of Michael Steven Sandford say they begged the U.S. to help bring their son home. The authorities refused to intervene until the Secret Service arrested him.

LONDON — The parents of a young British man who allegedly tried to shoot Donald Trump say they had contacted the U.S. authorities asking for help to bring their vulnerable boy home before he was arrested at a campaign rally in Las Vegas.

Michael Steven Sandford, 20, appeared in court in leg irons on Monday. He faces up to 10 years in prison after allegedly confessing to a Secret Service agent that he had plotted to assassinate the presumptive Republican nominee.

He was arrested after making a grab for a cop’s weapon at a campaign rally at the Treasure Island casino in Las Vegas on Saturday. He allegedly approached the police officer and asked about obtaining an autograph from Trump before reaching out with both hands and trying to pull the gun from the officer’s holster.

The Secret Service agent who questioned Sandford said he confessed that he drove to Vegas from Hoboken, New Jersey, where he was living in his black BMW, with the clear intention of killing Trump. Sandford arrived in Vegas on June 16 and went to a shooting range the following day for his first ever lesson on firing a gun.

According to the agent, after firing 20 rounds from a 9mm Glock pistol, Sandford decided he was ready to make his assassination attempt the following day.

When asked why he tried to grab the gun on Saturday, Sandford allegedly told the Secret Service agent: “To shoot and kill Trump.”

The agent also alleges that Sandford said he would try again to kill Trump if he were released from custody. He also had a ticket to Trump’s next rally in Phoenix. On Friday, a man carrying a gun was arrested at another Trump rally, in Texas.

Sandford, who grew up in the suburbs of Surrey, close to London, reportedly said he had been in the U.S. for 18 months after overstaying his visa.

His parents were begging him to come home, and grew increasingly concerned over the last three months. His father told local Portsmouth paper The News that he had recently become "upset" but they didn't know why because his Asperger's syndrome made it very hard to express his emotions.

“He's been refusing to come back and we were worried about him, we were in contact with the American Embassy telling them we were worried about him. The American authorities said, 'He's over 18 we can't do anything,’” said Michael Davey, who split from Sandford’s mother when the boy was four.

A public defender said while Sandford is autistic, he is competent to stand trial. The court heard that he suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder and anorexia as well as Asperger’s; he escaped from a hospital in England where he was being treated at the age of 14.

Sandford had fallen in love with an American girl when he was 18 but she moved back home to New Jersey with her parents, according to Davey.

He became so depressed that his parents gave him the money to travel to the U.S. to live closer to his girlfriend. Davey said he didn’t know if the couple were still together as his son rarely shared details of his private life.

“Since he moved out there it became slowly harder and harder to get in touch with him. He does Skype, but it’s always with a white background behind him so you don’t know where he is,” Davey told The News.

“He’s never been very good at communicating, he’s never been interested in politics and never really been interested in much… Because of his condition, he never talks about his private life and it’s always had quite an impact on how he behaves. He left school when he was 15 because he couldn’t cope with it all so he’s got no qualifications or job experience.” 

Davey said his son was never a loner, he did have friends at school, although he was often shy when meeting new people.

“I don’t want to use the term radicalized but we don’t know who he has been speaking with—this just isn’t him,” he said. “It’s an absolute shock, he’s never been violent in the slightest, he’s always been a polite and peaceful boy.”

Sandford’s stunned parents received a call from the authorities on Sunday afternoon. Davey is planning to fly out to see him as soon as possible. 

“Whether he’s been blackmailed or put up to it, that’s the only thing me and his mum can think of. It’s so against his nature and obviously with his Asperger’s, we think somebody has got hold of him and done something,” he said.

“He has no interest in politics, the world, geography or anything. He’s not a typical teenager because he doesn’t drink or smoke or do drugs, he’s never had any interest in that.”

No comments: