A Florida man was arrested Tuesday for allegedly threatening to kill a Republican congressman's children over the Trump administration’s reviled child-separation immigration policy.
Laurence Key, of Twin Lakes, called Rep. Brian Mast’s Washington office on Monday. An intern answered, and Key allegedly told him, "I'm going to find the congressman's kids and kill them,” according to a federal complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. "If you are going to separate kids at the border, I'm going to kill his kids."
Key has previously called Mast's office 478 times, according to The Associated Press. He also called the offices of Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, both of Florida, on Monday, but it’s unclear if he made threats in those cases.
Key denied threatening to kill Mast's children, according to an FBI investigator who interviewed him. But Key admitted to saying that Mast and his children should be separated from each other. Mast has a girl and two boys, all of whom are younger than 8.
Key is charged with communication of a threat to kidnap or injure a person. He will be arraigned July 2.
National outrage erupted in the past week over the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy of separating migrant children from their families after they illegally cross the border. No law or court ruling mandates family separations, though President Donald Trump falsely blamed laws and Democrats for the policy. Trump signed an executive order Wednesday that he said will end the process of separating children from families detained crossing the U.S. border.
Until Wednesday, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and other White House officials maintained that the only way to stop separation was if Congress passed a new legislation. Since the "zero-tolerance" policy was enacted in April, more than 2,300 children were separated from their parents.
Mast has remained quiet on the issue, and on Tuesday he wouldn’t say whether he thinks the Trump administration should stop the policy, TC Palm in Stuart, Florida reported. His Democratic opponents for this year's election, Lauren Baer and Pam Keith, have criticized his silence on the issue.
Mast has a history of voting in line with Trump's policies. The Trump administration has recently considered Mast for the position of Veterans Affairs secretary. During the 2016 campaign, Mast declared that he supported Trump "unanimously and wholeheartedly." But after the notorious "Access Hollywood" video of Trump's vulgar sexual boasts leaked in October 2016, Mast called Trump's comments "disgusting" and "inexcusable."
[Photos: St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office, Getty Images]