Ex-Rep. Joe Walsh defends tweet threatening 'war' on Obama

Story highlights

  • Former Rep. Joe Walsh tweeted angry messages related to the Dallas shootings
  • He later told CNN he believes Obama's rhetoric has led to violence against police officers

Washington (CNN)Former Rep. Joe Walsh -- under fire for a deleted tweet saying "This is now war" against President Barack Obama following the killings of Dallas police officers -- defended his rhetoric Friday.

Walsh, a former tea party congressman from Illinois and now a conservative talk radio host, tweeted in the wake of the Dallas shootings, "3 Dallas Cops killed, 7 wounded. This is now war. Watch out Obama. Watch out black lives matter punks. Real America is coming after you."
    Walsh later explained on Twitter that he wasn't calling for violence against Obama or Black Lives Matter activists. But he told CNN's Don Lemon Friday night that he stands by his words and that Twitter "shut me down."
    "Twitter said the only way you'll open your account is if we get rid of that tweet," Walsh claimed.
    Twitter would not comment on Walsh's claims, citing privacy and security reasons. But spokesman Nu Wexler noted a Twitter policy that says users "may not make threats of violence or promote violence, including threatening or promoting terrorism."
    Lemon asked Walsh if he stood by his words on Twitter.
    "Yeah. Oh, absolutely, because I stand by what I meant, Don," Walsh said. "I didn't intend to say everybody go threaten Barack Obama or incite violence against Barack Obama. I don't know of a sane person that would do that. That's not what I meant, Don."
    He told Lemon he made that remark because he's "pissed off" and "there really is a war on our cops."
    "The last couple of years, Barack Obama has done nothing but hate on cops. Accusing cops of being bad and racist," Walsh said, citing Obama's comments in the wake of Philando Castile's shooting death in Minnesota. The President had said minorities are more likely to be pulled over, searched or shot at by police.
    "But that's not accusing cops of being racist," Lemon countered. "He's actually pointing out a fact there is systemic racism in this country and there are police departments that need to be reformed."
    "He said cops were racist," Walsh replied. "Think about this. He said cops were racist after he found out that a young black man in Ferguson, Missouri, attacked a cop. Instead of going after the young black man who attacked a cop, he criticized the cop and Don, ever since then, ever since we've had one of these incidents, his impulse, his reflex, is always to go after the cop. Always."
    Walsh added, "When he said there's systemic racism in the police department after the Minneapolis shooting, he's telling people on the streets that police officers are racist. Now, maybe you and I can make that distinction, but when people on the street hear the President of the United States time after time say that there is racism in police departments all over the country, man, that kind of hating leads to what you got in Dallas."
    Five Dallas law enforcement officers were shot and killed by a sniper at a protest over police violence in the deadliest attack on law enforcement since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The protest was part of a national wave spurred by back-to-back police shooting deaths of two African-American men.
    Walsh's tweet Thursday night went viral after New York Times reporter Matthew Rosenberg spotted the deletion early Friday morning and urged people to retweet it.
    "Joe Walsh decided to delete this tweet. So let's all retweet it," Rosenberg tweeted. By 8 a.m. ET Friday morning, it had been retweeted more than 20,000 times.
    Walsh later explained on Twitter, early Friday morning, that, "I wasn't calling for violence, against Obama or anyone. Obama's words & BLM's deeds have gotten cops killed. Time for us to defend our cops."
    Friday afternoon, Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King also criticized Obama over the shootings, tweeting that the Dallas incident "has roots in first of anti-white/cop events illuminated by Obama...Officer Crowley. There were others."
    King was apparently referring to Cambridge, Massachusetts, police Sgt. James Crowley, who arrested prominent black Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. in 2009 following a report of a break-in at Gates' home. Obama attracted controversy at the time when he said police "acted stupidly" during the episode.