Federal authorities today announced that John Kless, a 49-year-old resident of Tamarac in Broward County, called three Democrats at their Washington, D.C. offices April 16 and left voicemail messages threatening murder. The lawmakers included California Congressman Eric Swalwell, Detroit Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker.
In all three messages, Kless referenced his hatred for Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar — repeatedly calling her a "towel head" and a member of the Taliban. In his message to Tlaib's office, Kless referenced Omar's recent "some people did something" comments about 9/11 — a statement Omar made to argue that all Muslims should not be punished for the actions of the few who committed the attacks. But conservatives have taken Omar's comments entirely out of context to falsely argue that Omar was diminishing the impact or tragedy of 9/11.
"It was your Taliban bitch, the one who opened up her fucking towel-head mouth about how 'some people did it,'" Kless allegedly said in his message to Tlaib. "You know what? She's lucky she's just getting death threats, bitch. So are you. All right? You're lucky they're just threats, motherfucker, 'cause the day when the bell tolls, whore, and this country comes to a war, there will be no more threats. Your life will be on the fucking line."
Kless allegedly continued to say the following:
No one wants to fucking hear you or that other little whore. I'd like to take that bitch and throw her right off the Empire State Building, that fucking whore. Tell her to shut her fucking mouth. You fucking fuck her all the time probably. So tell her to shut the fuck up, all right? From one towel head to another. You stanking, fucking, smelly, fucking bitch. Fuck off. I wish all of you the worst. You can go fuck off in life. Fuck you, and fuck Mohammed too, you bitch fucking cunt.Kless also allegedly criticized Swalwell's stance on gun control. Kless reportedly said if Swalwell enacted gun-safety laws, someone would kill the lawmaker. He also called Swalwell a communist and, oddly, the N-word. (Swalwell is white.)
"The day you come after our guns, motherfucker, is the day you'll be dead," Kless said, according to a federal indictment. He added, "You're gonna die. Don't wanna do that shit, boy. You'll be [on] your deathbed, motherfucker, along with the rest of you Democrats. So if you want death, keep that shit up, motherfucker."
Swalwell this afternoon thanked the Capitol Police and Florida law-enforcement officials for apprehending Kless:
Kless repeatedly used the N-word to refer to Booker and called him a "monkey," according to court records, adding he wanted to kill black men like the senator. "You're a fucking disgrace," Kless allegedly said. "We need to kill all you motherfuckers, man, every fucking one of you, man." He added that the terror attack in Charlottesville, Virginia — in which a white supremacist drove a car into progressive protester Heather Heyer — killed only "one fucking person." He then said Booker should tell his "colleague with the towel on her head to shut up about 9/11."
"You're going to be the motherfuckers that pay," Kless allegedly told Booker. "Don't worry — you government officials will be in the graves where you belong." (Booker and Swalwell are both running for president in 2020.)
In two of the three voicemail messages, Kless defended Trump and told lawmakers to stop criticizing him. After running Kless' name and phone number, federal investigators learned he had previously left "profane/harassing" messages at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office.
Kless has been charged with making threatening communications, a federal crime punishable by up to five years in prison. Kless is the second man this month arrested for threatening Omar: On April 4, an upstate New York man, Patrick W. Carlineo Jr., was arrested for threatening to shoot the congresswoman.
In response, Wilfredo Ruiz, a spokesperson for the Florida chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations, a civil-rights organization, said in a media release that Donald Trump's rhetoric is, indeed, sparking violence against Muslims. CAIR is also asking the federal government to charge Kless with hate-crimes.
"This outrageous, Islamophobic, criminal conduct needs to be forcefully prosecuted to the utmost extent,” Ruiz said. “The inflammatory and racist rhetoric originated by our President and several hate groups active across America have repercussions.”