Times Square’s businesses were boarded up Tuesday, police erected barricades throughout Midtown and Sean Spicer snapped a photo of a Donald Trump impersonator donning a large cardboard sign reading, “Vote Trump Out.”
But it’s not clear that reflects his sentiments.
Spicer, former White House press secretary and President Trump’s communications adviser, was in New York for an appearance on Newsmax Television. He said the atmosphere in the city this Election Day morning was “eerie,” which he attributes to what he called threats of violence from the “left.”
“The question is, why are these cities being boarded up? … It’s the folks on the left that are so-called peacefully protesting that people are worried about,” he said in an interview with Columbia News Service.
Despite Spicer’s assessment, there has been little evidence of threats of violence from groups on either side, with the exception of a handful of far-right domestic terrorist groups backing Trump, including the Proud Boys and the Wolverine Watchmen in Michigan.
The Proud Boys threatened to come after Democratic voters in Florida should they vote for former Vice President Joe Biden and the Wolverine Watchmen were implicated in a recent plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. An Oct. 20 report by The Associated Press found that the majority of people arrested and charged amid Black Lives Matter protests over the summer were not affiliated with any leftist groups.
Spicer expressed frustration with the “mainstream media” for not sufficiently reporting on violence from the left. When asked about the Proud Boys and other far-right domestic terrorist groups, Spicer said, “I don’t think violence is acceptable. I don’t think you should ever have any of it.”
Spicer quit the Trump White House in 2017 when the president appointed financier Anthony Scaramucci director of communications. Scaramucci lasted a little more than a week in the job and has been openly critical of the Trump administration since.
As for Election Day, Spicer encouraged citizens to get out and vote and to accept the outcome of the election, despite suggestions from Trump that he would only honor the results if he won.
“Once we know who wins, we can figure out how to go forward, but … I don’t think it should matter who wins how we react,” he said. “That’s the beauty of the country. We’ve been through changes in parties since our inception and this year should be no different.”
With additional reporting from Isabelle Bousquette.
This story is the work of a student at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Other news organizations are welcome to publish this story as long as they adhere to these guidelines.