On May 30th, 2017, photos of comic Kathy Griffin holding a bloodied Donald Trump head surfaced to the net. While Griffin meant the photos as a critique of Trump’s sexist comments about Megyn Kelly (he said Kelly had “blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever”), the backlash was swift and angry, with criticism and outrage coming from all over the political spectrum.
One year after the Griffin/Trump photo scandal, on May 30th, 2018, Griffin shared a long Twitter thread about the aftermath of that moment — specifically, how an outrageous photo turned into a presidential threat on her life.
After the photo came to light and made the internet rounds, Trump responded to Griffin on Twitter, writing, “Kathy Griffin should be ashamed of herself. My children, especially my 11 year old son, Barron, are having a hard time with this. Sick!”
Griffin says that after Trump’s tweet, it was as if he had given all his followers a presidential order to go after her.
Griffin says her response to people who claim that she “started it” is that she is a “citizen responding to the President,” and that Trump “decided to punch down and use his following to go after me. Was that appropriate use of presidential power? I don’t think so.”
Griffin says Trump’s tweet escalated the nightmare to the point where she feared for her safety and the safety of people attending her shows.
Griffin says she was detained at every airport she flew into, the secret service opened a two-month investigation against her, and bomb threats were called into all the venues where she had her shows. After all this, Donald Trump Jr. went on Good Morning America and said, “She deserves everything that’s coming to her.”
Griffin accepts responsibility for the photo that started it all, but her real point here is that the angry lynch mob of the internet interpreted a Trump tweet as a presidential order, and Trump did nothing to temper this reaction.
With Trump’s predilection for weighing in on anything and everything — especially when it comes to anything he finds personally offensive — Griffin worries how this presidential abuse of power will end.
“I feel a responsibility to keep talking about this abuse of power because one day it’s not going to be a famous comic that deals with this. It’s going to be your daughter or son, your sister or brother, who says something that the president, his family, and their administration find offensive and will have their lives ruined.”
You can read Griffin’s entire thread, here.