President Donald Trump has threatened to “put his thumb on” his president’s head, in a tweet that was widely condemned as a threat of violence.
Trump, in an apparent dig at Democratic presidential candidate and former President Barack Obama, tweeted on Saturday that “Trump is very much a thug who has no respect for our country”.
“I am going to put my thumb on his (Obama’s) face for his lies and lies and crimes, and his lack of respect for the rule of law,” Trump wrote in a post on Twitter.
“He’s a thug.
He’s a murderer.
He has no decency.
He is a coward.
He doesn’t have respect for his country.”
The tweet, which was later deleted, was posted just hours after Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, suggested that the president had been “forced” to take the action, and after the New York Times reported that Trump had warned Obama in a private call that he would not be punished for his actions against Trump.
Spicer denied the reports, saying that Trump “never said he was going to use force”.
Trump’s tweets came after a report from the New Yorker magazine that described Trump as a “terrible human being” who had repeatedly told his aides he was not going to face prosecution for his political crimes.
Trump is one of three Republican presidential candidates in the race to replace former President John F Kennedy who has been dogged by questions about his personal finances.
The Times reported in January that Trump and his son Donald Trump Jr had been told in January 2017 by a lawyer representing a Ukrainian oligarch that he was entitled to a $40m loan.
Trump has denied the claims, and he has repeatedly attacked the media for their reporting of the loan, calling them “fake news”.
The New Yorker reported that in June 2017, the Trump campaign had “warned” the president that he could face a criminal investigation for not declaring a loss in his campaign for the White House.
The story has also led to speculation that Trump may not be in a position to be able to legally challenge the loans, as he has the financial resources to pursue his legal claims through the Federal Election Commission.
Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.