President Trump on Wednesday urged politicians to stop treating their opponents “as being morally defective” and implored the media to “set a civil tone” after explosive devices were sent to top Democrats, including former President Barack Obama, as well as CNN’s offices in New York.
“The language of moral condemnation and destructive routine, these are arguments and disagreements that have to stop,” Trump said at the start of a campaign rally in Mosinee, Wis. “No one should carelessly compare political opponents to historical villains, which is done often. It's done all the time. Got to stop.”
“We should not mob people in public spaces or destroy public property,” the president said. “There is one way to settle our disagreements. It's called peacefully at the ballot box. That's what we want.”
Trump’s comments come after suspicious packages containing “potentially destructive devices” were sent to Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Attorney General Eric Holder, and liberal philanthropist George Soros.
A package addressed to former CIA Director John Brennan was sent to CNN’s office in New York City, leading to the office's evacuation.
According to the FBI, the packages had a return address of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Democratic Florida congresswoman and former head of the Democratic National Committee. The package addressed to Holder was returned to Wasserman Schultz's office in Sunrise, Fla.
A suspicious device sent to Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., was also intercepted at a congressional mail facility outside of Washington, D.C. The Associated Press reported a package addressed to Waters was also discovered at a mail facility in Los Angeles.
Trump said the government is conducting an “aggressive investigation” into the attempted attacks and vowed to bring the perpetrator to justice.
“Any acts or threats of political violence are an attack on our democracy itself,” he said. “No nation can succeed that tolerates violence or the threat of violence as a method of political intimidation, coercion, or control. We all know that.”
Trump also advocated for “all sides to come together in peace and harmony” and called on the media to take steps to “bridge our divides and bring people together.”
“The media also has a responsibility to set a civil tone and to stop the endless hostility and constant negative and oftentimes false attacks and stories. Have to do it. They've got to stop,” he said.
Trump frequently derides the media, notably CNN, claiming outlets make up sources and referring to stories he dislikes as “fake news.”
The president has also taken to coining nicknames for his political opponents, such as “Crooked Hillary” and “Low IQ Maxine Waters."
During a rally in Missoula, Mont., last week, Trump offered words of praise for Rep. Greg Gianforte, R-Mont., who body slammed a reporter last year.
Later in the rally Wednesday, Trump criticized Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., who is facing a challenge from Republican state Sen. Leah Vukmir.
The president called Baldwin a “far-left opponent” who favors a “socialist takeover of healthcare," but struck a more muted tone because “I’m trying to be nice.”
“Have you seen how well I’m behaving?” Trump said.