A Florida man pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court to threatening to kill Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.
According to a plea agreement, David Hannon, 67, a supporter of former President Donald Trump, sent an email to Omar in July 2019, after Omar and three other members of Congress held a televised news conference criticizing then-President Trump.
Hannon entered a guilty plea before U.S. Magistrate Judge Christopher P. Tuite to a single count of threatening a federal official with the intent to intimidate and impede Omar and retaliate against her for performing her official duties. The charge carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years and a $250,00 fine.
Prosecutors said Hannon sent an email to Omar threatening violence against her and two congressional colleagues of color, whom he referred to as “radical rats,” because of Omar's comments at a news conference that “specifically repeated quotes containing curse words from then-president Trump regarding social issues involving women and minorities,” according to the plea agreement.
“No one should fear violence because of who they are or what they believe,” U.S. Attorney Roger Handberg of the Middle District of Florida said in a statement Tuesday. “Unlawful threats against our elected officials are an assault against our democracy, and we will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to seek justice in these cases.”
The email’s subject that read “[You’re] dead, you radical Muslim,” and in it Hannon wrote that he was going to shoot the lawmakers, including Omar, in the head.
He added that Omar “better get more security, or within a week you and the other three radical rats will be six feet under.”
“This is not a threat but fact,” Hannon wrote, asking whether Omar, who is Muslim, is “ready to die for Islam” and “ready to get out of our country.”
Days before, Trump, who made the group of lawmakers a target of his attacks as he campaigned for re-election, had launched a tirade on Twitter asserting that progressive women in Congress should “go back” and try to fix the “crime infested places” they “originally came from” before they criticize how the U.S. government handled its problems.
According to the plea agreement, Omar’s staff immediately contacted federal investigators over fear that Hannon would carry out violence. Hannon wrote the email from his personal account, investigators said.
Hannon's lawyer, Michael Perry, defended his client's record since the 2019 email threat: “Outside of that one incident, there’s been no follow-throughs with any of the threats that he made, there’s been no further threats, nothing at all,” he said.
Omar's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Omar was sworn into office in 2019, making history as the first African refugee elected to Congress after she fled conflict in Somalia in 1995. Omar is also the first woman of color to represent Minnesota and one of the first two Muslim American women elected to Congress.
“Threatening to kill our elected officials, especially because of their race, ethnicity or religious beliefs, is offensive to our nation’s fundamental values,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said in a statement. “All elected officials, regardless of their background, should be able to represent their communities and serve the public free from hate-motivated threats and violence.”