Republican House candidate Carl Paladino suggested on a radio show that Attorney General Merrick Garland “probably should be executed” following the FBI search of President Donald Trump’s Florida estate last week, according to The Buffalo News.
Garland “should not only be impeached, he probably should be executed,” Paladino said in an interview with a Breitbart radio host last week, according to the outlet.
“The guy is just lost. He’s a lost soul. He’s trying to get an image, and his methodology is just terrible,” he added. “To raid the home of a former president is just ... people are scratching their heads and they’re saying, ‘What is wrong with this guy?’”
Paladino is running for the GOP nomination to replace the retiring Rep. Chris Jacobs (R-N.Y.) in western New York state. He is a businessman who previously ran for governor in New York in 2010. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), chair of the House Republican Conference and third-ranking member in GOP House leadership, has endorsed his campaign.
A Stefanik spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment.
When asked later in the interview to explain his comment suggesting the execution of the U.S. attorney general, Paladino claimed he was “just being facetious.”
Carl Paladino speaks to reporters in the lobby at Trump Tower, December 5, 2016, in New York City. (Photo: Drew Angerer via Getty Images)
Paladino’s kidding around about executing U.S. officials comes amid a huge spike in threats to law enforcement over the raid on Trump’s estate. Some supporters of the former president have used violent rhetoric online, calling on Garland and other federal agents to be assassinated. GOP lawmakers have fanned the flames by attacking the FBI and calling for it to be defunded.
FBI director Chris Wray, who was appointed in 2017 by Trump, called threats circulating online against federal agents and the Justice Department “deplorable and dangerous.”
Former Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday also called on members of his party to tone down the rhetoric, saying, “Calls to defund the FBI are just as wrong as calls to defund the police.”
FBI agents searched Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate and removed boxes of documents, some of which were marked highly classified and dealt with secrets that if revealed publicly could cause “exceptionally grave” damage to U.S. interests, according to the DOJ. Trump is being investigated for possible violations of the Espionage Act.
Paladino has a history of making controversial and fringe comments. Earlier this year, he praised Nazi leader Adolf Hitler’s ability to rouse “the crowds” and declared Hitler “the kind of leader we need today.” He later said that he does not actually support Hitler.
In 2016, Paladino said that he would like to see then-President Barack Obama die from mad cow disease and first lady Michelle Obama “return to being a male and let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe where she lives comfortably in a cave with Maxie, the gorilla.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.