Man charged with threatening Congress members on phone

Associated Press
Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich.

Tamarac, Fla. – A Florida man unleashed threatening rants over the phone against three Democratic members of Congress, as he raged against gun control, illegal immigration, homosexuals, black people and Muslims, authorities said.

John Kless, 49, was arrested Friday and charged with making threatening communications, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release.

Kless called the Washington offices of Rep. Eric Swalwell of California, Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey on Tuesday and left profanity-laden voicemails for each politician, a federal criminal complaint said. Swalwell and Booker are both running for president.

The messages specifically mentioned the elected officials being killed.

“The day you come after our guns … is the day you’ll be dead,” Kless said in his message to Swalwell, authorities said. Swalwell has focused much of his presidential campaign on gun control.

Messages left for Tlaib and Booker seemed to reference a recent viral video shared by President Donald Trump that purports to show Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, a Muslim, being dismissive of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Democrats have criticized the video, with some accusing Trump of purposefully trying to incite violence against Omar.

“You definitely don’t tell our president, Donald Trump, what to say,” Kless said to Tlaib, according to officials.

Investigators traced the phone number back to Kless, who lives in Tamarac, Florida, the complaint said. U.S. Capitol Police previously investigated Kless for a message left in February for Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Swalwell tweeted his thanks Friday to the Capitol Police for protecting his staff and constituents.

Court records didn’t list an attorney for Kless.