Newsmax has come under fire after airing a segment in which the channel’s host Carl Higbie and Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt discussed a potential “force-on-force” conflict between the South and the Biden Administration.
The right-wing cable channel featured the pair discussing a recent Supreme Court ruling which allowed Border Patrol agents to resume cutting razor wire that Texas installed on the US-Mexico border to deter migrants from entering the US illegally.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott had authorised the wire in one of a series of aggressive measures the three-term Republican has taken on the border in the name of curbing illegal crossings from Mexico.
However, the fence has caused concerns after some migrants were injured by the sharp wire. Meanwhile, the Justice Department has argued the barrier impedes the US government’s ability to patrol the border, including coming to the aid of migrants in need of help.
In response, President Biden faced calls from Democrats to federalise the Texas National Guard to ensure the wire fence was dismantled.
State National Guards ordinarily fall under the control of their respective governors, but they can be federalised by a mechanism known as Title 10 status, which places them at the direct disposal of the president and defence secretary, with active duty officers taking over day-to-day command.
There are currently no active plans for the President to federalise the Texas National Guard, but in an alarming segment, Higbie and Mr Stitt suggested that doing so could lead to a civil war.
“There’s rumblings that Joe Biden should or may actually federalise the National Guard—take that power away from Greg Abbott,” Higbie began by saying.
“Let’s say this showdown—I mean, that’s what it is. It’s a showdown. It’s a showdown of power and loyalties and constitutionality. Let’s say [Biden] does that,” the Newsmax host theorised. “How many people say, ‘No. You know what? Screw you, Biden administration.’ And how many people stay and fight with Texas versus the federal things, and does that put us on course for a force-on-force conflict?” he asked Governor Stitt.
Mr Stitt responded, calling the clash between Texas authorities and the federal government a “powder keg of tension.”
“We certainly stand with Texas on the right to defend themselves,” he said. “But Biden is going to be in a tough situation. So in other words, he’s going to try to federalise these troops—in other words, put them on federal orders. And so now, their allegiance technically goes to the president of the United States instead of the governor.”
The Oklahoma Governor added that he thinks National Guard officers in Texas would feel conflicted if they were to be put under the control of the federal government.
“I think they would be in a difficult situation: to protect their homeland or to follow what Biden’s saying,” he said.
He also said Oklahoma would send National Guard troops to Texas to support the efforts of Governor Abbott if the White House were to interfere, and called on other states to do the same.
“It’s very interesting. But then, you know, then you’ve got Oklahoma and Florida and Tennessee and you got all these other states that would send our National Guard to help and to support the efforts of Governor Abbott. Because every state is a border state,” Mr Stitt said.
Following Mr Stitt’s comments, Newsmax came under fire for airing the segment.
“On Newsmax they are talking about starting a Civil War between TX, FL, OK and other border states,” journalist Victoria Brownworth wrote on X, accusing the channel of “sedition.”
“The GOP noise about law and order was a big fat lie. The SCOTUS ruled and Article 1, Section 1 of the OK Constitution affirms Federal Supremacy. @GovStitt appears to have forgotten his oath to uphold and defend the constitution,” another person tweeted.
The Independent has contacted Newsmax and Mr Stitt for comment.
Mr Stitt is not the only person who has openly called for civil war in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling.
On Thursday, Donald Trump called upon “all willing States to deploy their guards to Texas to prevent the entry of Illegals, and to remove them back across the Border.”
Following the ruling, Greg Abbott vowed to “continue fighting to defend Texas’ property and its constitutional authority to secure the border.”
Meanwhile, the White House applauded the order, which was handed down after a federal appeals court last month had forced federal agents to stop cutting the concertina wire.
“Texas’ political stunts, like placing razor wire near the border, simply make it harder and more dangerous for frontline personnel to do their jobs,” White House spokesperson Angelo Fernández Hernández said.