WHITE HOUSE — As authorities retrieve more suspected bombs sent to prominent Democrats, U.S. President Donald Trump is largely blaming the media for the angry political atmosphere in America.
“A very big part of the Anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the Mainstream Media that I refer to as Fake News,” Trump said on Twitter on Thursday morning. “It has gotten so bad and hateful that it is beyond description. Mainstream Media must clean up its act, FAST!”
New packages meant for Biden, De Niro
Trump’s tweet came as suspected explosive devices addressed to actor Robert De Niro and former Vice President Joe Biden were found Thursday, bringing the total to at least 10 such packages that have been discovered at various locations throughout the United States since Monday.
Police in New York said one package was sent to a production company owned by De Niro and that it is similar to those sent to other prominent Democrats, including former president Barack Obama and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton. The New York City Police Department’s bomb squad transported the suspected bomb in a special truck out of the Tribeca neighborhood on Thursday.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation also confirmed two packages addressed to Biden were found in Delaware.
Other packages have been addressed to a former U.S. attorney general, two Democratic Party members of Congress and former Central Intelligence Director John Brennan. He responded to Trump’s tweet Thursday, tweeting “Stop blaming others. Look in the mirror. Your inflammatory rhetoric, insults, lies & encouragement of physical violence are disgraceful.”
What police termed a live explosive device that arrived in an envelope addressed to Brennan at CNN’s New York bureau prompted the evacuation of the Time Warner Center for hours on Wednesday.
CNN President Jeff Zucker issued a statement saying members of the Trump administration have a “complete lack of understanding” about the seriousness of their frequent attacks against the media.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded on Twitter, accusing Zucker of being divisive.
Pressed by reporters Thursday on whether there could be a link between Trump insulting political opponents and the dispatch of the bombs, Sanders replied, “the president is certainly not responsible for sending suspicious packages to someone no more than [Democratic U.S. Senator] Bernie Sanders was responsible for a supporter of his shooting up a baseball field practice [by Republican lawmakers] last year.”
Trump, lawmakers weigh in
Trump said at a rally late Wednesday that targeting government officials by sending them explosives “is an attack on our democracy itself.”
Throughout the day Wednesday, leaders from both the major parties called for a return to civility in the political arena, a theme Trump picked up on at the rally.
“No one should carelessly compare political opponents to historical villains, which is done often and all the time. It’s got to stop,” said the president. “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.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, the top two Democrats in Congress, issued a statement Wednesday afternoon, accusing Trump of fanning the flames of political unrest.
Sender identity still unknown
Authorities have not announced any leads on the identity of the sender of the explosives.
“I think this is an act of political terrorism,” Congressman Rodney Davis, a Republican from the state of Illinois, said on CNN early Thursday.
The Secret Service says the package addressed to Clinton was discovered late Tuesday, intercepted at a mail screening facility near her home in a New York suburb where she lives with her husband, former President Bill Clinton.
Clinton, on Wednesday, thanked the Secret Service for intercepting the package that was addressed to her.
“It is a troubling time, isn’t it? It’s a time of deep divisions and we have to do everything we can to bring our country together,” said the former secretary of state at an event in Florida.
A separate package addressed to Obama, according to the Secret Service, was intercepted at a screening facility at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, a 365-hectare military facility in Washington.
California Congresswoman Maxine Waters was sent two suspect packages, one intended for her office in the nation’s capital and the other for her home district office. The first was intercepted at a congressional mail sorting center in the state of Maryland, and the second discovered by postal inspectors at the Los Angeles Central Mail Sorting Facility.
Soros was 1st target
The first in the series of explosive devices was found Monday in a mailbox outside the New York home of billionaire philanthropist George Soros, a major donor to Democratic candidates.
The Secret Service said the packages addressed to Obama and Hillary Clinton “were immediately identified during routine mail screening procedures as potential explosive devices and were appropriately handled as such. The protectees [Obama and the Clintons] did not receive the packages nor were they at risk of receiving them.”
Ken Bredemeier and Masood Farivar contributed to this report.