West Virginia Del. Michael Folk told CNN that he is sorry he committed “hyperbole” by calling for hanging Hillary Clinton as a traitor.
Folk admitted he went too far in calling for the execution of the former secretary of State.
That may not be enough to save Folk’s full-time job as a United Airlines pilot or for him to keep his seat in the West Virginia State House.
Folk tweeted July 16, “@HillaryClinton You should be tried for treason, murder, and crimes against the US Constitution…then hung on the Mall in Washington D.C.”
Now, Folk says he went too far.
The Republican could also apologize to English teachers everywhere. In his tweet that thrust Folk into the glare of the national spotlight, he said Clinton should be “hung.” Of course, it is artwork that is hung. Traitors are hanged.
Grammar aside, West Virginia Democratic Party Chair Belinda Biafore issued a statement as soon as she learned of the Folk tweet in which she called for his resignation. If Folk doesn’t walk away, she said, Republican House Speaker Tim Armstead should kick him out.
“When such remarks are made it becomes more than hateful rhetoric; it’s a safety issue. We still haven’t heard one word from Speaker Armstead about how he’s going to handle this, and the people of West Virginia deserve action,” Biafore said. “These types of threatening language cannot go ignored.”
The Democratic Coalition against Trump, whose name speaks for itself, is also calling for Folk’s resignation. The group has started an online petition drive to make its point.
Top Republicans in West Virginia have yet to offer their opinions.
As soon as Folk’s hang-her-high tweet went viral, people started retweeting it to his employer United Airlines.
United Airlines was quick to respond.
“We’re appalled by comments advocating harm to anyone,” the airline’s social media people responded on Twitter. “They do not represent United & we’re looking into the matter.”
Reaction to that was also immediate. Damon Bethea tweeted, “He should be fired. I can imagine a number of people will not use your airline until he is gone and I am one of them.”
Brianna Wu, co-author of the book “Women in Tech,” tweeted that she was outraged.
“You have to ‘INVESTIGATE?’ Either fire him or don’t. How dare you pull PR spin with violent rhetoric? That is beyond unacceptable.”
It took less than a day, and a few more of those tweets, for United Airlines to pull the trigger on Folk. The airline announced July 17 that Folk had been “removed from flying pending our investigation. We are appalled by his threatening comments.”
At first, Folk told the Charleston Gazette-Mail that he was wrong to say Hillary should be hanged, but he refused to back away from the death penalty.
“What I called for is for her to be tried and the maximum penalty for treason is death. Technically, it’s not death by hanging…(when) people do wrong they need to be held accountable,” he said.
Folk finally told CNN he was wrong to even suggest Hillary Clinton should face capital punishment. But he stood by his assertion that Clinton should face criminal charges for the way she handled classified information while at the State Department.
“I do think she should be tried and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Folk told CNN the day after his Hang Hillary tweet went viral.
“The rule of law is gone,” Folk added. “The average person that would have done something like that would have been in jail for life.”
But as for hanging Clinton on the National Mall, he said, “No, my gosh. That was the hyperbole in the statement.”
Folk’s tweet may be a case of more than just one man whose hyperbole ran wild.
His tweet is reflective of one of the hard-to-extinguish firestorms now part and parcel of the 2016 presidential campaign.
Two reporters, Holly Bailey of Yahoo News and Niels Lesniewski from Roll Call, tweeted from a Trump for President rally in Raleigh, N.C., July 5 that Trump supporters were hollering “hang that bitch” when a speaker mentioned Hillary’s name.