A controversial New Hampshire state representative who once said that former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton “should be shot for treason” was among the attendees at a White House bill signing Friday morning.
Al Baldasaro, who served as a delegate for then-candidate Donald Trump at last year’s Republican National Convention, was present as the president signed a bill to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Baldasaro’s presence drew particular notice given recent calls by the administration, and across Washington, for dialing back partisan rhetoric in the aftermath of last week’s shooting at a Republican congressional baseball practice in Virginia that left House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., in critical condition. (He has since been upgraded to fair condition.)
Asked about Baldasaro’s presence at Friday’s press briefing, White House press secretary Sean Spicer condemned all comments suggesting violence against another person.
“I don’t believe, and the president has said this as well, that anybody that goes out and tries to highlight those kinds of actions, should not be welcome,” said Spicer. “I’m not aware of the comments [Baldasaro] made, but again, I’ll say it right now, I don’t think we should be resorting that kind of language with anyone in our country.”
Baldasaro’s attendance also comes at a time when the White House has condemned a series of incidents in popular culture in which violence against Trump has been made light of or otherwise depicted.
Earlier during the briefing, Spicer said he found it troubling that more outrage hasn’t been raised over the incidents, which most recently include a comment by actor Johnny Depp, who asked, “When was the last time an actor assassinated a president?” A representative for Depp later said Depp’s remark was a “bad joke.”
“It is, frankly, in my belief, a little troubling, the lack of outrage in some of these instances where people have said what they’ve said with respect to the president and the actions that should be taken,” said Spicer. “The president has made it clear that we should denounce violence in all of its forms.”
Last July, Baldasaro was investigated by the Secret Service after his comments about Clinton, which came in a radio interview in which he criticized the former secretary of state for her response to the 2012 attack on a United States compound in Benghazi, Libya and her use of a private email server.
“Hillary Clinton should be put in the firing line and shot for treason,” said Baldasaro.