WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump condemned the series of attempted attacks on high-profile Democrats and others, declaring Wednesday that "acts or threats of political violence have no place in the United States."
Attempting a bipartisan pause during a divisive campaign season, Trump called for unity after crude pipe bombs targeting Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, CNN and others were intercepted Tuesday and Wednesday. Trump called the suspicious packages "despicable" and said a "major federal investigation" was underway.
Coming just 13 days before the midterm elections, the attempted attacks underscored the deeply divided moment in American politics. The packages were directed at prominent Democrats and a cable network often criticized by political conservatives. In his rallies and on Twitter, Trump has frequently lambasted Clinton, Obama and CNN, as well as other Democrats and news outlets, often with menacing undertones.
At a rally in Montana last week, Trump praised Republican Rep. Greg Gianforte, who pleaded guilty to assaulting a reporter, saying that "any guy that can do a body slam ... he was my guy."
In his remarks at the White House on Wednesday, Trump did not name any of the entities targeted by the devices.
"We're extremely angry, upset, unhappy about what we witnessed this morning, and we will get to the bottom of it," he said.
Clinton, who lost the presidency to Trump in a bitterly fought campaign, said it was a "troubling time" and a "time of deep divisions, and we have to do everything we can to bring our country together."
The president's allies pushed back on the suggestion that he contributes to a toxic political atmosphere.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, said: "I don't see anything really wrong with the president. He's in a tough position, attacked on all sides, and he ought to be able to express himself."
Republicans also condemned the suspicious devices.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., denounced the "reprehensible acts" as an "attempt to terrorize public figures." Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called it "domestic terrorism."
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who is facing a fierce challenge from Democrat Beto O'Rourke, tweeted that "violence is never OK" and said the reports were "deeply, deeply disturbing. America is better than this."
Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., who was severely wounded in a 2017 shooting that targeted Republican members of Congress on a suburban baseball field, wrote on Twitter that he had experienced "first-hand the effects of political violence" and said that as a nation "we must agree that this is a dangerous path and it cannot become the new normal."