Updated with comments from the U.S. Secret Service and the Missouri Senate Democratic leader.
The U.S. Secret Service is investigating a Facebook post from Missouri state Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City, in which she stated: “I hope Trump is assassinated!”
As outrage over the comment spread Thursday, a top leader in Chappelle-Nadal’s own party declared that Chappelle-Nadal “should be ashamed of herself.”
Chappelle-Nadal’s comment, referring to President Donald Trump, has since been removed. But Chappelle-Nadal confirmed to the Post-Dispatch that she had written it in response to another commenter before deleting it.
“I didn’t mean what I put up. Absolutely not. I was very frustrated,” Chappelle-Nadal told the newspaper. “Things have got to change.”
The U.S. Secret Service’s St. Louis field office “is looking into this,” the office confirmed.
Kristina Schmidt, special agent in charge, told the Post-Dispatch that “hypothetically” in such investigations, agents try to “determine intent, to determine if there was a violation of federal law. If there is, then we refer it to the U.S. Attorney.”
“Our primary goal is to determine if there is intent and meaning behind it,” Schmidt said.
According to a screenshot of the now-deleted conversation obtained by the Post-Dispatch, another commenter named Christopher Gagné was writing about a cousin of his who he said was on Trump’s Secret Service detail.
“But, what I posted earlier, I truly believe will happen, sooner … not later,” he wrote.
In a subsequent interview with the Post-Dispatch, Gagné said that wasn’t a reference to assassination, but to his earlier-stated belief that Vice President Mike Pence will use the 25th Amendment of the Constitution to have Trump removed from office.
“Damn,” Gagné then wrote, “now I’ll probably get a visit from the secret service smdh.”
Chappelle-Nadal responded: “No. I will. I hope Trump is assassinated!”
In an interview, Chappelle-Nadal said her comment stemmed from frustration over the events in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend, in which a white supremacist protester allegedly rammed his car into a group of counter-protesters, killing a 32-year-old woman.
Trump’s reaction to the tragedy, which included the assertion that “both sides” of the protests were to blame for the violence, has drawn criticism across the political spectrum.
“I put that up on my personal Facebook and I should not have,” Chappelle-Nadal said. “It was in response to the concerns that I am hearing from residents of St. Louis. I have deleted it, and it should have been deleted, but there is something way more important that we should be talking about.”
Chappelle-Nadal said that in the wake of Charlottesville, “there are people who are afraid of white supremacists, there are people who are having nightmares. there are people who are afraid of going out in the streets. It’s worse than even Ferguson.”
On Facebook, Gagné identifies himself as an “investigative journalist covering police misconduct and shootings,” and the head of a group called the United States Prisoners Rights Defense League. Chappelle-Nadal said she knew of him from his involvement in protests during the unrest in Ferguson.
In a statement, Missouri Senate Democratic Caucus leader Sen. Gina Walsh said, in part: “I strongly condemn and disavow Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal’s horrible comments. Promoting, supporting or suggesting violence against anyone, especially our elected leaders, is never acceptable. There is too much rancor and hate in today’s political discourse, and Sen. Chappelle-Nadal should be ashamed of herself for adding her voice to this toxic environment.”
A spokeswoman for Republican Missouri Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard, when asked to comment on Chappelle-Nadal’s post, said: “He supports Sen. Walsh’s statement.”
Joe Holleman of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.
This is a developing story. Check back later for further details.