President Trump dodged responsibility Friday for creating the divisive political climate surrounding the mail bombs sent to his political enemies by one of his supporters, instead blaming the press for being “extremely unfair.”
Trump acknowledge that Cesar Sayoc Jr., the Democrat-hating former stripper accused of sending mail bombs, is a fan of the President, but refused to concede that his own bombastic rhetoric influenced the suspect.
Trump made the media-bashing defense before departing the White House for a political rally in North Carolina, telling reporters he “had heard” Cesar Sayoc “preferred me over others” but maintained there’s “no blame” on his part.
“I think I’ve been toned down, if you want to know the truth,” Trump said. “I could really tone it up because as you know the media’s been extremely unfair to me and to the Republican Party.”
The President, who frequently calls journalists the “enemy of the people” and recently egged on a Republican congressman for assaulting a reporter, refused to answer repeated questions about what in particular he considers “unfair.”
Sayoc, a 56-year-old Brooklyn native, was arrested in south Florida earlier in the day on suspicion that he mailed explosives to 13 high-profile Democrats and Trump critics, including former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.
Trump revealed he had been advised to reach out to Sayoc’s alleged targets, but contended he won’t do so.
“We’ll pass,” the President said.
Since a bomb first turned up at Democratic mega-donor George Soros’ Westchester home earlier this week, Trump has vacillated between calls for “harmony” and familiar attacks on Democrats and the “fake news.”
Trump condemned Sayoc’s alleged acts as “despicable” and called on Americans to “unify,” only to moments later encourage supporters as they heckled the Holocaust-surviving Soros.
“They’re called globalists. I like the globe too, but we have to take care of our people,” Trump said.
The crowd cheered him on as some shouted “George Soros” and “lock ‘em up.”
Trump laughed, pointed at someone in the audience and repeated the line “lock ‘em up.”
The odd exchange came after Trump lauded Secret Service, NYPD and the FBI for quickly finding and arresting Sayoc.
Trump also groused Friday that the news was more focused on “this ‘Bomb’ stuff” rather than covering politics ahead of the midterms, which he asserted was hampering Republican “momentum.”
“Republicans are doing so well in early voting, and at the polls, and now this ‘Bomb’ stuff happens and the momentum greatly slows — news not talking politics,” Trump tweeted. “Very unfortunate, what is going on. Republicans, go out and vote!”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who was among dozens of Democrats attacked by Sayoc over social media, accused Trump of failing to mantle even the most rudimentary of presidential norms.
“Pathetic,” Schumer wrote in a response tweet to Trump. “When potential terrorism strikes, we should be pulling together, not playing politics.”