President Donald Trump pointed the finger Wednesday night at his opponents and the news media for the turbulent national political environment, on the same day it was revealed explosive devices were mailed to the Obamas, the Clintons, CNN and other public officials.
Trump took no responsibility for the tone of the political discourse. His comments capped off a chaotic day of an attempted large-scale attack on prominent Democratic figures, including Obama’s former CIA director John Brennan and attorney general Eric Holder, as well as California Rep. Maxine Waters, who Trump has attempted to elevate as the face of the Democratic Party. A day earlier, an explosive device was found at the home of George Soros, the liberal donor who is a subject of right-wing conspiracy theories.
During a rally in Wisconsin, the President promised to bring those responsible for mailing the explosive devices to justice and broadly condemned violence, without specifically naming the targets of Wednesday’s bombs.
“Any acts or threats of political violence are an attack on our democracy itself. No nation can succeed that tolerates violence or the threat of violence as a method of political intimidation, corrosion or control, we all know that. Such conduct much be fiercely opposed and firmly prosecuted,” he said.
“We want all sides to come together in peace and harmony. We can do it. We can do it. We can do it. It’ll happen.”
Then he pivoted, saying those in the political arena “must stop treating political opponents as being morally defective.”
“The language of moral condemnation and destructive, routine – these are arguments and disagreements that have to stop,” said Trump, who has routinely labeled Waters “crazy,” referred to the news media as the “enemy of the people,” called those who held up his Supreme Court nominee “people that are evil” and blamed “both sides” when a neo-Nazi ran over and killed a counter-protester in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Trump took no responsibility for his own rhetoric – which has included attacks on news outlets and Democratic opponents, as well as moments like a recent rally in Montana where he praised a Republican congressman who pleaded guilty to charges stemming from his body-slamming a reporter.
He complained of “mobs” – a reference to protesters, who opposed Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination and confronted Republican senators on Capitol Hill, and who have challenged GOP lawmakers and Trump Cabinet officials at restaurants and in public.
“No one should carelessly compare political opponents to historical villains, which is done often and all the time. It’s got to stop. We should not mob people in public spaces or destroy public property. There is one way to settle our disagreements – it’s called peacefully, at the ballot box. That’s what we want,” Trump said.
He then said it’s the news media’s responsibility to set the national political tone.
“The media also has a responsibility to set a civil tone and to stop the endless hostility and constant negative and oftentimes false attacks and stories. Have to do it,” he said.
He resumed his usual attacks on Democrats, falsely claiming that “the Democrat Party is openly encouraging caravan after caravan of illegal aliens to violate our laws and break into our country.” He complained the treatment Kavanaugh, saying that “they made him suffer.” He claimed a 10% tax cut for the middle class is coming “soon” – a pledge that comes less than two weeks from the midterm elections, but has never been proposed as a bill in Congress.
After criticizing Democrats on taxes and regulations, Trump touted how “nice” he was being.
“And by the way, do you see how nice I’m behaving tonight?” Trump asked the crowd. “Have you ever seen this? We’re all behaving very well.”
“And hopefully we can keep it that way, right? We’re going to keep it that way,” he added.