The president of California State University at Fresno has promised to cooperate in any resulting federal investigation following a lecturer’s tweet that appeared to call for fatal violence against President Trump.
“The university is taking this matter seriously and handling it in accordance with applicable law and policy, as well as our traditions of academic freedom and the requirements of the faculty collective-bargaining unit agreement,” Joseph I. Castro, Fresno State’s president, wrote in a campuswide email sent on Monday.
But Lars Maischak, the history department lecturer who was responsible for the tweet, said he was “appalled” the president was letting himself be used by a “right-wing smear campaign.” Mr. Maischak has also said his message was taken out of context.
The controversy stems from several tweets Mr. Maischak wrote in February, including this one:
— Lars Maischak (@LarsMaischak) February 18, 2017
The tweets gained new attention after a writer for the far-right Breitbart News featured them in an article over the weekend. Thousands of people have since responded with tweets and hundreds of emails calling for Mr. Maischak to be fired, deported, or killed.
In an email to The Chronicle, Mr. Maischak wrote that, judging by the president’s language, “they may get their wish.”
Since becoming the latest academic to fall under public scrutiny as a result of his tweets, Mr. Maischak has said he did not intend for harm to come to Mr. Trump. Rather, the lecturer said, he made the comments at a time when Mr. Trump had called members of the media an enemy of the American public. Mr. Maischak said that led him to conclude the president would face a court or tribunal if he continued down the same path.
“Whether this would result in an actual hanging, or any execution at all, is really impossible to predict,” Mr. Maischak wrote to The Chronicle. “But if he were to be tried, it would probably be best for it to be a clear, swift break with his rule, or else it might become a drawn-out, violent conflict.”
He said Breitbart had turned his tweet into an incendiary statement that resulted in the calls for his termination.
President Castro said his institution had reviewed Mr. Maischak’s comments to make sure they were made as a private citizen and not as a representative of the university.
“Professor Maischak’s personal views and commentary, with its inclusion of violent and threatening language, is obviously inconsistent with the core values of our university,” Mr. Castro wrote.