Republican congressional candidate Carl Paladino said on a radio show last week that U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland "probably should be executed" following the raid of Donald Trump's estate in Mar-a-Lago.
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"... an administration with people like Garland, who should not only be impeached, he probably should be executed," Paladino told Breitbart Radio host Matthew Boyle. "The guy is just lost. He's a lost soul. He's trying to get an image, and his methodology is just terrible. 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?' "
The statement came about seven and a half minutes into the interview, which can be heard on the SoundCloud clip below.
When Paladino was asked by Boyle about two minutes later to explain what he meant by his execution comment, Paladino backtracked.
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"I'm just being facetious," Paladino said. "The man should be removed from office. He shows his incompetence, he wants to get his face in front of the people and show he's got some mettle to him, but his choice of issues and choice of methodology is very sad."
Responding to a request for comment Wednesday, Paladino's spokesperson Vish Burra reiterated that the congressional candidate was joking and that no further statement from Paladino was necessary.
"The comment is clear: Carl does not think Garland should be executed and when you listen to the interview, when asked what he meant, he stated he was being facetious," Burra said.
The exchange came amid heightened concern for the safety of law enforcement officials in the wake of federal agents executing a search warrant at Trump's Florida home.
The Department of Homeland Security distributed an intelligence bulletin to law enforcement around the country that warned of “an increase in threats and acts of violence” after the search.
Some GOP officials have expressed anger toward the F.B.I. in particular, which has led to divisions within the party. The New York Times reported that former Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday called on Republicans to stop attacking the nation’s top law enforcement agencies over the search.
Paladino has a history of incendiary statements, such as his June comment calling Adolf Hitler an "inspirational" leader. Paladino has often backtracked from those statements. "I should have used Churchill," he told The News on June 9.
While originally denying claims that he shared a Facebook post linking mass killings in Buffalo and Texas to "false flag" ideas, Paladino a day later acknowledged he did share the content because it was posted by a friend, and that he often shares content with which he does not agree.
In a 2016 Artvoice article, Paladino, when he was a member of the Buffalo School Board, referred to Michelle Obama as a man and said he would like her to be "let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe where she lives comfortably in a cave with Maxie, the gorilla." At a 2015 rally, he scorned the "damn Asians" and other "foreigners" at University at Buffalo and other state colleges.
Paladino faces state Republican chairman Nick Langworthy Tuesday in a primary election in the redrawn 23rd Congressional District.
Ben Tsujimoto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at (716) 849-6927 or on Twitter at @Tsuj10.