NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The onslaught of suspicious packages is igniting a political firestorm, as people on both sides of the aisle question the motivation behind the bombs.
All of the packages targeted top Democrats, many of whom have been outspoken in their opposition to President Donald Trump.
Trump blames the media and his opponents for the turbulent political climate, resulting in the events of the past 48 hours, but his critics say the president is actually the one to blame, CBS2’s Jessica Moore reported Thursday.
The president kicked off a rally on Wednesday night in Wisconsin condemning the person or people responsible for sending suspicious packages to prominent Democrats around the country.
“Any acts or threats of political violence are an attack on our democracy, itself,” Trump said.
At the same time, former CIA director and intended bombing target John Brennan blamed the president.
“Unfortunately, I think Donald Trump has not helped to encourage the type of civil discourse and public engagement and his rhetoric, too frequently I think, fuels these feelings and sentiments that now are bleeding over into potentially acts of violence,” Brennan said.
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On Thursday morning, the president pointed the finger at the media on Twitter saying, “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. It has gotten so bad and hateful that it is beyond description. Mainstream media must clean up its act, fast!”
One hour later, Brennan continued to push back, tweeting, “Stop blaming others. Look in the mirror. Your inflammatory rhetoric, insults, lies, & encouragement of physical violence are disgraceful. Clean up your act … try to act Presidential. The American people deserve much better. BTW, your critics will not be intimidated into silence.”
Asked his opinion on the subject, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the answer isn’t as simple as some might like.
“I think we have to have an investigation to know exactly what happened, and I think it’s simplistic to say everything’s about Donald Trump,” the mayor said Thursday. “I’ve said this constantly, we’ve got to stop talking about Donald Trump all the time. There’s other things going on in our society besides the president. The hatred that’s out there has existed in this country for a long time. He has given it license, he has given it permission, he has made it easier for those voices of hate to come forward – that is a fact. And it’s coming from the top and that makes it particularly unfortunate.
“But the hatred’s been there and we have to address it at its root, which is really all of our responsibility,” the mayor added. “So, no, I don’t think it’s right to connect the dots so perfectly until we know all the facts. I do think it’s right to say the president really should change his tone, show respect for people of different beliefs, show respect for the news media, stop encouraging violence. That said, he will not change. I’m happy to say what he should do, and I have no illusion that he’ll change.”
Also Thursday morning, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders defended the president’s response as “presidential,” and denied he bears any responsibility for the events of the past two days.
“The president feels like we should call out despicable acts and that’s what he’s done over the past 24 hours,” Sanders said. “There’s a big difference between comments made and actions taken. The president is certainly not responsible for sending suspicious packages to people, no more than Bernie Sanders was responsible for a supporter of his shooting up a Republican baseball field practice last year. The idea that this is at the hands of the president is absolutely ridiculous.”
And the debate over who’s to blame will continue, even as investigators work around the clock to find the person or people responsible.