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Johnny Depp asks about the last time 'an actor assassinated a president'

Posted June 25

Actor Johnny Depp addresses film goers at the Glastonbury music festival at Worthy Farm, in Somerset, England, Thursday, June 22, 2017. (Photo by Grant Pollard/Invision/AP) (Deseret Photo)

Johnny Depp has found himself in some deep water over recent comments toward President Donald Trump.

While speaking at the Glastonbury Festival this week, Depp made a threat toward Trump.

"When was the last time an actor assassinated a president?" he asked the crowd to cheers and applause.

Depp, who was on stage to promote his film “The Libertine,” asked the crowd if they could find a way to bring Trump to the stage. When he received boos, Depp made the assassination remark.

Depp clarified that he is “not an actor. I lie for a living (but) it's been awhile. Maybe it's about time.”

Will this statement put Depp in trouble? According to BBC, threatening the U.S. president is a class E felony. Anyone who makes a threat to take the life or inflict harm on the president could be sentenced up to five years or be fined.

The Secret Service is aware of the actor’s comments.

But courts often designate these cases as protected under the First Amendment through free speech.

Earlier this year, comedian Kathy Griffin shared a photo of herself holding a fake and blooded Donald Trump head, according to the Los Angeles Times. CNN and Squatty Potty both pulled out of deals with Griffin for the action.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney also condemned the statement.

Griffin later apologized for the image.

At the time, lawyers and officials wondered if Griffin would face charges for the photo.

Stanford University Law Professor Nathaniel Persily told USA Today at the time that it was unlikely.

"People are allowed to wish the president dead," until they express a desire or intent to harm him, he said. "To threaten someone you need words that encourage some sort of action.”

In 1969, the Supreme Court overturned the convention of Robert Watts, who said he didn’t want to head to Vietnam for the war and "if they ever make me carry a rifle, the first man I want to get in my sights is LBJ (President Lyndon Baines Johnson)."

The Supreme Court said the statement was just “crude political hyperbole,” according to USA Today.

Persily said stifling free speech often brings more attention to speakers like Griffin.

"When you try to clamp down on offensive speech, you actually expose more people to it," Persily said.

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