A 72-year-old New York man was arrested Monday on a charge of threatening to kill former President Donald Trump. But it doesn’t appear there was ever any danger: The man is accused of making his threats directly to the Secret Service.
Thomas Welnicki repeatedly made threats against Trump in several phone calls to the Secret Service, beginning a year ago and continuing last September, November and December, according to federal court documents. He’s accused of making similar statements to the U.S. Capitol Police.
“I am going to do anything I can to take out [Individual-1],” Welnicki said in a voicemail message to the Secret Service on Jan. 4, according to the complaint. “Oh, yeah, that’s a threat. Come and arrest me.”
Trump was not identified by name in the complaint, which was filed in Brooklyn federal court. But a footnote said the person identified as Individual-1 was U.S. president from Jan. 20, 2017, to Jan. 20, 2021.
The complaint said Welnicki called the Secret Service three times from his cellphone on or around Nov. 8, 2021, and identified himself by name each time. During the first call, Welnicki repeatedly referred to Trump as “Hitler.”
“I will do everything I can to make sure [Individual-1] is dead,” Welnicki said, according to the complaint.
Welnicki had multiple voluntary interviews with law enforcement over the last 18 months, according to federal prosecutors.
In July 2020, he bragged to the U.S. Capitol Police about how easy it was for him to obtain a firearm, the complaint said.
“I don’t want to hurt anyone, but I will stand up to fascism,” Welnicki said, according to the complaint.
At the end of the interview, he said, “I really hope that God takes [Individual-1] out.”
Welnicki appeared by video Monday afternoon to face the charge in federal court in Brooklyn. He was released on a $50,000 bond and was subject to GPS monitoring.
Welnicki, who lives in Rockaway Beach, Queens, must undergo alcohol and mental health treatment, according to his bond conditions.
Welnicki’s court-appointed lawyer, Dierdre Von Dornum, argued against location monitoring, saying that he didn’t pose any danger.
“The date of his earliest calls were over a year ago,” Von Dornum said during the hearing. “If there was any actual danger here, I am certain they would have arrested him sooner.”
Pete Williams is an NBC News correspondent who covers the Justice Department and the Supreme Court, based in Washington.
Jonathan Dienst is a reporter for WNBC-TV in New York, leading its investigative reporting team and covering justice and law enforcement issues.