Explosive devices and suspicious packages are showing up at the homes and offices of top Democrats, the people who fund them and the press that covers them. Most, if not all, of them have made their way to people and organizations that President Donald Trump despises.
Trump has repeatedly called his followers to violence against the people and organizations that were victimized this week. There were no confirmed motives or suspects by Wednesday afternoon. But his violent rhetoric over the past two years has led one of his biggest enemies, CNN, to ascribe some blame for the attacks to the president.
In a statement Wednesday, CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker said that Trump and members of the administration “should understand that their words matter.”
“There is a total and complete lack of understanding at the White House about the seriousness of their continued attacks on the media,” Zucker said. “The President, and especially the White House Press Secretary, should understand their words matter. Thus far, they have shown no comprehension of that.”
House and Senate Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer issued even stronger statements, connecting Trump’s rhetoric to the neo-Nazi violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, last year, as well as to violence against protesters at his rallies and more.
The revelation on Thursday that two more of Trump’s nemeses ― former Vice President Joe Biden and actor Robert De Niro ― were targeted only added fuel to the fire.
On Wednesday, CNN evacuated its New York offices after an apparent pipe bomb and an envelope with white powder were discovered in the mailroom. Several top Democratic individuals received similar threats ― Bill and Hillary Clinton, former President Barack Obama, George Soros, Rep. Maxine Waters (Calif.) and others received explosive devices or suspicious packages in the mail.
All of them have been Trump’s very public enemies. CNN has been the acute focus of Trump’s ongoing war against the media, or what he calls “the enemy of the people.”
He’s called CNN fake news. His family has laughed as Trump supporters angrily call out and threaten its reporters at the president’s rallies. The president has lauded a video depicting him beating up a person with the CNN logo superimposed on his head. Press freedom experts have long pegged Trump’s rhetoric as the begging of violent ends for American reporters. CNN’s inclusion in Wednesday’s terrorist activity was inevitable.
There are reports that the package sent to CNN was addressed to former CIA Director John Brennan, who does not work at the network. The White House publicly revoked his security clearance in August, in what he called a “broader effort by Mr. Trump to suppress freedom of speech and punish critics.”
Bill and Hillary Clinton were also victims. They’ve been demonized by the right for decades, but only one leader has suggested that Republican voters shoot Hillary Clinton or her Supreme Court appointees dead if she won the presidency.
“If she gets to pick her judges ― nothing you can do, folks,” Trump said with a shrug at a rally in 2016. “Although, the Second Amendment people. Maybe there is. I don’t know.”
To this day, Hillary Clinton is one of Trump’s most valuable punching bags. He’s still talking about her emails. His constituents still chant “Lock her up” at his rallies. He is still demanding ― this year! ― that his followers get angry about her.
“Let’s see if she gets away with it,” he said in August.
A “potential explosive device” was intercepted as it made its way by mail to the Clinton household in the New York City suburbs late Tuesday, the Secret Service said. Nobody was injured.
“We are fine, thanks to the men and women of the Secret Service who intercepted the package addressed to us long before it made its way to our home,” she said Wednesday. “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.”
Another of Trump’s favorite bogeymen, George Soros, also received a bomb in the mail this week. HuffPost reported yesterday on Trump’s campaign against Soros and his fanning of the conspiratorial flames surrounding the billionaire’s liberal philanthropy:
In various tweets and speeches, President Donald Trump has fanned the flames of Soros conspiracy by claiming that there is a bogeyman behind various news events. That bogeyman always ends up becoming Soros, whether it’s true or not. Recently the president said that a “lot of money” was given to a caravan of migrants traveling toward Mexico and the United States, leading The New York Times to file a story headlined, “Did Democrats, or George Soros, Fund Migrant Caravan? Despite Republican Claims, No.” Trump also claimed that Kavanaugh’s protesters were paid and were awaiting their checks, another thread that led back to Soros online. That list, too, goes on, and the GOP has followed suit by publishing anti-Semitic ads featuring Soros as the Jewish donor behind every nonwhite demonstration out there.
Explosive devices and suspicious packages have also been intercepted after they were sent to the homes or offices of Obama, Waters and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), a former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee — all of whom Trump has personally and publicly attacked. Republicans now hate Waters in particular for Trump’s repeated attacks on her.
As the midterm elections approach ― and the polls begin to look bleaker for Republicans ― Trump’s words have become more and more desperate. More broadly, he has promised violence if he loses. He has said that the Democrats will “overturn everything that we’ve done, and they’ll do it quickly and violently” if Republicans lose control of Congress.