US President Donald Trump has called for unity against the “threat of political violence” after suspicious packages were sent to his predecessor Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and CNN, days ahead of the the crucial mid-term elections.
Trump’s remarks came after a series of explosive devices discovered throughout the day on Wednesday.
The devices, which included pipe bombs, were sent to prominent Democrats and across the country and to CNN’s New York office.
Obama and Clinton, who was Trump’s opponent in the 2016 presidential election, received threats. Packages were also sent to Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, liberal philanthropist George Soros and California Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters.
The president condemned the explosive devices sent to these leaders, declaring that such threats are “an attack on our democracy itself.”
“Any acts or threats of political violence are an attack on our democracy itself…We want all sides to come together in peace and harmony,” Trump told his supporters at an election rally in Wisconsin.
“Those engaged in the political arena must stop treating political opponents as being morally defective. The language of moral condemnation and destructive routines, these are arguments and disagreements that have to stop,” Trump said.
On November 6, America will go to the polls to elect members for each of the 435 House seats and 35 of the 100 Senate seats in Congress.
Trump and the Republicans hope to maintain their majority in both houses during the midterm elections, but with the Democrats having a healthy lead in the polls, it is believed that they have a decent chance of taking the House of Representatives.
The stakes for President Trump are extremely high since a Democratic victory in either chamber would give the party the power to open investigations into various aspects of his administration.
Trump urged Americans not to “mob people in public spaces,” apparently referring to calls from his opponents to confront Trump administration officials in protest of White House policies.
“There is one way to settle our disagreements, it’s called peacefully at the ballot box. That’s what we want,” he said.
“The media also has a responsibility to set a civil tone and to stop the endless hostilities and constant negative and oftentimes false attacks and stories,” he added.
Earlier in the day at a White House event, Trump termed as “abhorrent” the sending of “suspicious packages” to his predecessor Barack Obama, 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and the CNN, asserting that threats of political violence have no place in America.
“We will spare no resources or expense in this effort. And I just want to tell you that in these times, we have to unify. We have to come together and send one very clear, strong, unmistakable message that acts or threats of political violence of any kind have no place in the United States of America, Trump said.
The Democrats were quick to slam him.
“We listened with great interest to the President’s remarks this afternoon. We all take an oath to support and defend the Constitution and protect the American people, and that is our first responsibility,” Democratic leaders Senator Chuck Schumer and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi said in a joint statement.
“However, President Trump’s words ring hollow until he reverses his statements that condone acts of violence, they said.
All suspicious packages are similar in appearance and contain potentially destructive devices, the FBI said late Wednesday night as it released a picture of one of those suspicious packaged.
The packages were mailed in manila envelopes with bubble wrap interior. The packages were affixed with computer-printed address labels and six Forever stamps, it said.
All packages had a return address of ‘DEBBIE WASSERMAN SHULTZ’ in Florida.
“This investigation is of the highest priority for the FBI. We have committed the full strength of the FBI’s resources and, together with our partners on our Joint Terrorism Task Forces, we will continue to work to identify and arrest whoever is responsible for sending these packages,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray.
FBI did not rule out the possibility of mailing these packages to other locations as well.
Former CIA Director John Brennan, to whom one of the explosive package was addressed, hoped that this is a turning point for rhetoric of president Trump.
“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 in response to a question at the University of Texas at Austin.