WASHINGTON — Packages with explosive devices sent to prominent Democrats and a major donor to the party prompted widespread condemnations across America’s political landscape, as well as some finger-pointing.
“Those behind such reprehensible acts must be brought to justice. We cannot tolerate any attempt to terrorize public figures,” Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin tweeted.
The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Virginia’s Mark Warner Took to Twitter to call for unity.
Republican Congressman Steve Scalise of Louisiana, who still walks with difficulty after surviving a mass-shooting incident near Washington last year, condemned the mailing of possible explosives as “beyond criminal” and “acts of pure terror,” adding that those responsible “must be hunted down and brought to justice.”
Some noted the explosive packages were sent at a time of intense political polarization and often-radicalized rhetoric in the nation’s discourse.
“Unfortunately, this atmosphere of hatred is contributing to the choices people are making to turn to violence, there’s no question about it,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference, adding that the solution is “to bring down the temperature.”
De Blasio said, “To all public officials of all partisan affiliations: Don’t encourage violence. Don’t encourage attacks on the media. You can disagree, but you have to show respect for people and air your disagreements peacefully.”
At a White House event, President Donald Trump said “in these times we have to unify. We have to come together.”He added that “acts or threats of political violence of any kind have no place in the United States of America.”
Some commentators noted that Trump himself has labeled the news media an “enemy of the people” — a characterization that White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders repeatedly declined to retract or contradict at a press briefing earlier this year.
On Wednesday, former Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid’s onetime aide, Adam Jentleson, scoffed in response to a tweet by Sanders, stating that the White House’s initial condemnation of the suspicious packages was meant to include the device sent to cable news outlet CNN.
“You [Sanders] refused to disavow President Trump’s declaration that the media is the enemy of the people,'” Jentleson tweeted.
Some conservative commentators, meanwhile, suggested that leftist elements allied with Democrats may have sent the suspicious packages as a diversionary tactic ahead of next month’s midterm elections.
“None of the leftists ostensibly targeted for pipe-bombs were actually at serious risk, since security details would be screening their mail,” tweeted Frank Gaffney, president of the Washington-based Center for Security Policy. “So let’s determine not only who is responsible for these bombs, but whether they were trying to deflect attention from the Left’s mobs.”
An intended recipient of one of the possible explosive devices, former secretary of state and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, said America is living through “a troubling time” and “a time of deep divisions.”
Speaking in Florida, Clinton added, “We have to do everything we can to bring our country together. We also have to elect candidates who will try to do the same.”