A New York man was arrested on Friday for allegedly threatening to kill and assault two U.S. senators because they supported now-confirmed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the Justice Department said.
According to the complaint, Ronald DeRisi, 74, left more than 10 voice messages threatening the two senators starting on September 27, the day Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who says that Kavanaugh drunkenly assaulted her when they were both in high school, testified about the matter before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Kavanaugh, who was later confirmed with a final vote of 50-48, denies the allegations.
The two senators who received threats were not identified. The U.S. Capitol Police led the investigation.
The Justice Department said that DeRisi appeared to have made the threats “to discourage Senator-1 and Senator-2 from supporting Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination.” The complaint details some of the voicemails. In one, DeRisi apparently called a state office of one of the senators and allegedly claimed to have a “present” for the lawmaker. “It’s a nine millimeter. Side of your f—-ing skull, you scumbag motherf—-er.”
In another voicemail left at a different office in the same senator’s home state the same day, according to the complaint, DeRisi said, “If f—-ing Kavanaugh gets in, he’s dead f—-ing meat! Actually, even if Kavanaugh doesn’t get in, he’s dead f—-ing meat! Nine millimeter, side of the head, you f—-ing old bastard.”
He is said to have told the second senator in a message the day of Kavanaugh’s confirmation that, “I’m gonna get you.”
U.S. Capitol Police special agent Lawrence Anyaso said DeRisi had made the calls through a pre-paid cell phone, which was purchased with a debit card under his name. DeRisi was previously arrested for making threatening phone calls to another individual three years ago.
The arrest comes just days after Maine Republican senator Sen. Susan Collins’ husband opened a letter sent to the couple’s home on Monday claiming to contain the deadly chemical ricin and specifically mentioning Collins’ support for Kavanaugh. The senator’s husband was unharmed.
“Representative democracy cannot work if elected officials are threatened with death for simply doing their job,” United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Richard Donoghue said in a statement. “The First Amendment—the pinnacle of American achievement—protects debate, disagreement and dissent, not death threats. We and all those dedicated to the rule of law will not tolerate the use violence and threats of violence in attempts to prevail in political disputes.”