Kathy Griffin apologizes for beheaded Trump photo: 'I crossed the line'

The image attracted the attention of the Secret Service.

ByABC News
May 30, 2017, 10:21 PM

— -- Comedian Kathy Griffin has apologized for a photo of herself holding what appears to be a bloody fake severed head of President Trump.

The photo has received sweeping bipartisan disapproval. Griffin and celebrity photographer Tyler Shields, who took the photo, posted it on their social media accounts Tuesday.

"I caption this 'there was blood coming out of his eyes, blood coming out of his ... wherever,'" Griffin tweeted, referring to an exchange between Donald Trump and former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly during the presidential primary season.

In an attempt to appease those who were offended by the image, the controversial comedian then tweeted, "OBVIOUSLY, I do not condone ANY violence by my fans or others to anyone, ever! I'm merely mocking the Mocker in Chief."

That did little to placate her critics, prompting Griffin to tweet a video of herself apologizing.

"Hey, everybody, it's me, Kathy Griffin," she says in the video. "I sincerely apologize. I am just now seeing the reaction to these images. I'm a comic. I crossed the line. I move the line. Then I cross it. I went way too far. The image is too disturbing. I understand how it offends people. It wasn't funny. I get it. I've made a lot of mistakes in my career. I will continue. I ask your forgiveness. Taking down the image. I am going to ask the photographer to take down the image. And I beg for your forgiveness. I went too far, I made a mistake, and I was wrong."

The image caught the attention of the Secret Service. Initially, the agency did not cite the image in any of its tweets, but in response to Twitter users sending the image to its account, the Secret Service tweeted Tuesday afternoon, "On it! @SecretService has a robust protective intelligence division that monitors open source reporting & social media to evaluate threats."

An hour later, the agency tweeted, "Threats made against @SecretService protectees receive the highest priority of all of our investigations. #ProtectionNeverRests."

Later in the evening, the Secret Service issued a statement — which did not cite the controversy — saying, "The U.S. Secret Service has a critical mission. It is always unfortunate when people make statements that could be perceived as threats. We don't have the luxury of knowing a person's intent. Each alleged or perceived threat has to be investigated thoroughly, which taxes Secret Service manpower and resources that could be utilized elsewhere."

The image did not sit well with Donald Trump Jr., who tweeted, "Disgusting but not surprising. This is the left today. They consider this acceptable. Imagine a conservative did this to Obama as POTUS?"

Condemnation of the image was widespread.

Onetime Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, tweeted, "Our politics have become too base, too low, & too vulgar, but Kathy Griffin's post descends into an even more repugnant & vile territory."

Paul Babeu, a Republican and former sheriff of Pinal County, Arizona, tweeted, "Inciting violence/murder of @POTUS is a crime. Imagine liberal outrage if conservative held up bloodied decapitated head of Obama?"

Former Republican congressman Trey Radel drew a comparison between the image and ISIS beheadings. "Journalists & soldiers, this is also disgusting display 4 moms, dads, families who have lost loved ones to #ISIS in the most horrific way," tweeted Radel, author of "Democrazy: A True Story of Weird Politics, Money, Madness and Finger Food."

Even Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of Trump's Democratic rival in the election, slammed Griffin's photo.

"This is vile and wrong," she tweeted. "It is never funny to joke about killing a president."

Hollywood celebs also took to Twitter to criticize Griffin.

Actress Debra Messing tweeted, "It wasn't right when peoplel hung lynched Obama effigies, just as what Kathy Griffin did isn't right now."

Actress Alyssa Milano tweeted, ".@kathygriffin I'm sorry but that is totally inappropriate and so very offensive. And I have to believe you're smart enough to know better."

Even Anderson Cooper, who is friends with Griffin and hosts CNN's New Year's Eve special with her, tweeted, "For the record, I am appalled by the photo shoot Kathy Griffin took part in. It is clearly disgusting and completely inappropriate."

And a CNN spokesperson added, "We found what she did disgusting and offensive. We are pleased to see she has apologized and asked that the photos be taken down. We are evaluating New Year’s Eve and have made no decisions at this point."

ABC News has reached out to Shields for comment.

ABC News' Christopher Donato and Jack Date contributed to this report.

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