Online provocateurs and right-wing media personalities are calling for "Civil War" in the United States after former president Donald Trump's Florida home and resort were raided by the FBI.
News of the raid yesterday triggered headlines and explosive news segments across the country – and in the hyper-partisan world of American politics, things are threatening to boil over.
Popular pro-Trump Facebook groups and Reddit forums on social media have been awash with calls for violence and for residents to "lock and load" over the perceived politicisation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's actions.
"When does the shooting start?" one popular comment on Reddit-like website TheDonald asked just hours after the news broke.
Others called on the former president to summon militias, NBC News reported, echoing online activity ahead of the January 6 Capitol riots.
On Twitter, there was a dramatic spike in references to "civil war" in America.
Among those calling for violence, was right-wing podcaster and YouTuber Steven Crowder. "Tomorrow is war. Sleep well," he tweeted to his 1.9 million followers on Tuesday.
A big spike in tweets referencing "civil war" right after the news of the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago broke last night.
Source: Dataminr pic.twitter.com/F5XwZ9mKmV
— Donie O'Sullivan (@donie) August 9, 2022
Caroline Orr Bueno, a researcher who studies disinformation and behavioural sciences said "Trump supporters are really excited about the idea of a civil war" while sharing a compilation of tweets pushing the disturbing message.
"I already bought my ammo," one person said.
"Civil war! Pick up arms, people!" another said.
"Civil War 2.0 just kicked off."
Trump's angry message to supporters
The unprecedented search marked a significant escalation of the federal investigation into whether Mr Trump illegally removed confidential records from the White House as he was leaving office in January 2021.
With Republicans rallying around the 76-year-old – who is reportedly mulling another presidential run in 2024 – he is turning the raid into a fundraising opportunity by soliciting political donations from his supporters.
"They are trying to stop the Republican Party and me once more," Mr Trump said in a fundraising email overnight. "The lawlessness, political persecution, and Witch Hunt, must be exposed and stopped."
Republican allies in Congress have vowed to launch an investigation of the search itself if they recapture control of the House or Senate in November mid-term elections.
Amid whirlwind media coverage, the Justice Department and FBI have declined to publicly comment on the raids or confirm any details.
However if Mr Trump is found to have taken confidential material from the White House, and is convicted of such an offence, it would deem him ineligible for federal office.
The FBI could not have conducted the search without the approval of a judge who confirmed there was probable cause.
Raids could be 'rocket fuel' for Trump re-election bid
The real estate tycoon turned president has weathered many political scandals in the past and some observers believe the latest scandal will only add to the conviction among loyalist voters in the Republican party.
"The Biden administration is only adding rocket fuel to Trump's campaign prospects and energising his supporters who want him to run again," said Ron Bonjean, a Republican strategist in Washington.
"There should be more transparency around the decision to have this FBI raid because it looks overly political and allows Trump to say he's being unfairly attacked."
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