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Donald Trump had to disavow his longtime butler for saying Obama should be "shot"

Melania Trump, Barron Trump, and Donald Trump at the Mar-a-Lago Club.
Melania Trump, Barron Trump, and Donald Trump at the Mar-a-Lago Club.
Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images

All eyes have turned to Donald Trump's former butler Anthony Senecal, the 74-year-old ex-employee of Trump’s Florida resort Mar-a-Lago who authored multiple private Facebook posts calling for President Barack Obama to be killed.

On Wednesday, Senecal, who worked for Trump for 17 years, called for Obama to be "taken out by our military and shot as an enemy agent in his first term," Mother Jones first reported.

On Thursday, Senecal confirmed he wrote the post in an interview with CNN, but with one correction: "I think I said hung."

"Either way, I don't care. Hanging, shooting — I'd prefer he'd be hung from the portico of the White House, or as I call it, the white mosque," Senecal told CNN. "Does it sound like I'm nuts? Because I'm not. I've just gotten fed up with him."

Trump’s campaign disavowed Senecal’s "horrible" comments about the president in a statement Thursday, and the Secret Service, which manages such threats, said it was aware of the matter and conducting a thorough investigation.

"Tony Senecal has not worked at Mar-a-Lago for years, but nevertheless we totally and completely disavow the horrible statements made by him regarding the President," Hope Hicks, the Trump campaign’s spokesperson said.

Senecal, a Trump supporter, has repeatedly called for violence against Obama

On Wednesday, Senecal, a Trump supporter, called for the nation to get their "ass out and vote," but in the long post was a less democratic and frightfully violent assertion — that Obama should have been shot:

To all my friends on FB, just a short note to you on our pus headed "president" !!!! This character who I refer to as zero (0) should have been taken out by our military and shot as an enemy agent in his first term !!!!! Instead he still remains in office doing every thing he can to gut the America we all know and love !!!!! Now comes Donald J Trump to put an end to the corruption in government !!!! The so called elite, who are nothing but common dog turds from your front lawn are shaking in their boots because there is a new Sheriff coming to town, and the end to their corruption of the American people (YOU) is at hand !!!! I cannot believe that a common murder is even allowed to run (killery clinton) OR that a commie like bernie is a also allowed to also run !!!! Come on America put your big boy pants on---this election you have a choice---GET YOUR ASS OUT AND VOTE !!!! Thank you !!!!

As Mother Jones reported, this was not the first time Senecal published violent rhetoric toward the president; over the course of the past two years he has posted, "I will help rid this America of the scum infested in its government — and if that means dragging that ball less dick head from the white mosque and hanging his scrawny ass from the portico — count me in," called Obama a "sleezey bastard zero (0)," and said he should be "hung for treason."

Frightening for Trump, Senecal's social media presence is otherwise that of an avid and loyal Trump supporter, petitioning the Republican National Convention to stand with the presumptive Republican nominee and chastising the Republican establishment for working against the American people. (Another post called for Medicare to cover the costs of acupuncture.)

Senecal first came into public conversation in March, when the New York Times profiled him as a look into Trump's nearly royal lifestyle.

He would press Trump's suits, call on the butler to play "Hail to the Chief" upon his arrival, and, despite the Trump campaign's claim that Senecal hasn't worked at Mar-a-Lago for years, when Senecal was going to retire in 2009 Trump said no, the Times reported:

Mr. Trump decided he was irreplaceable, so while Mr. Senecal was relieved of his butler duties, he has been kept around as a kind of unofficial historian at Mar-a-Lago. "Tony, to retire is to expire," Mr. Trump told him. "I’ll see you next season."

Mr. Senecal, with horn-rimmed glasses, a walrus mustache and a white pocket kerchief in his black jacket, seems to reflect his boss’s worldview: He worries about attacks by Islamic terrorists and is critical of Mr. Trump’s ex-wives.

With Trump's history of condoning violence at his campaign rallies, these depictions of Senecal have led many to question the associations Trump has made over the years.

Trump has a problem with the people he surrounds himself with

It has been a particularly bad week for Trump on this front. First his campaign accidentally picked a white nationalist delegate in California, a decision that might be too late to take back; Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke, whom Trump was previously pressured to disavow for his endorsement, offered to be his vice president this week, and now his former butler, a man who served him for 17 years, has repeatedly said he wants to see Obama dead.

Unlike Trump’s previous fumble with the Duke endorsement – where he failed to initially acknowledge and disavow Duke’s clear white nationalist connections – his campaign was quick to take a stand against Senecal.

But it’s an unfortunate reality for a presidential candidate who has repeatedly said his qualification for the presidency is based on his ability to surround himself with "great" people and the "best" advisers. But those around him, from his former butler to campaign staff, continue to get caught in controversy. Notably, his right-hand man, campaign manager, and now the leader of his vice presidential selection team, Corey Lewandowski was charged with battery after a campaign reporter accused him of physically assaulting her.

The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin put it plainly — Trump’s "great" people all seem to have some not-so-great traits in common:

"Trump selects the same sort of right-hand man over and over again — obnoxious, aggressive, tight with shady figures and loyal. These are not "great" people; they are people who think Trump is great and who mimic Trump’s bully-boy style. The problem with being a narcissist is that you do not hire people smarter and more capable than yourself. That ultimately may be Trump’s undoing."