On Wednesday, Donald Trump condemned the attempted pipe bomb attacks against multiple Democratic political figures and CNN headquarters and called for national unity. But so far the president has failed to take responsibility for the way his own words have a history of stirring up public resentment.
In a press conference on Wednesday, Trump traded in the combative language he normally directs at his political sparring partners to ask both sides of the nation’s political divide to come together against “these despicable acts.”
“I just want to tell you that in these times we have to unify,” he said. “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.”
But the next day, Trump blamed the media for the surge of potentially dangerous mailings — saying the press was at fault for creating divisions in American society.
“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,” he tweeted. “It has gotten so bad and hateful that it is beyond description. Mainstream media must clean up its act, fast!”
One week earlier, Trump remarked during a campaign rally in Iowa that Democrats are “really evil people” who “want to destroy people.” During the same event, he also called the press “the enemy of the people.”
Echoing comments made by many on social media, Sen. Jeff Flake criticized the president for his many attacks on the press, saying they’ve had a negative influence on the public.
“What the president says matters, and it he were to take a more civil tone, it would make a difference,” Flake told CNN. “Civility can’t wait until after an election. The president shouldn’t refer to the press as the ‘enemy of the people.’ . . . People hear that and they follow it.”
On Thursday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended the president and also took aim at the press.
“The president has condemned violence in all forms, has done that since Day 1, will continue to do that. But certainly feels that everyone has a role to play. But certainly feels that everyone has a role to play,” Sanders told reporters.
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Asked whether the president regretted some of the strong words he’s used against his political adversaries, Sanders didn’t directly answer the question, instead remarking, “We should call out despicable acts, which is exactly what he has done over the last 24 hours.”
However, when asked by a CNN reporter about the president going so far as to call his opponents “evil,” she claimed that “it’s a word people have used on your network a number of times.
“You guys continue to focus only on the negative. There is a role to play,” she added. “Yesterday, the very first thing that the President did was come out and condemn the violence. The very first thing your network did was come out and accuse the president of being responsible for it. That is not okay. The first thing should have been to condemn the violence.”
So far, a total of at least 10 suspicious packages have been found, as a manhunt is underway for the sender. Previous packages have contained piped bombs packed with shards of glass, authorities have said. All have been disabled by police without any reported injuries.
Here’s a look at all of the ways Trump has insulted the Democrats who were targeted by pipe bombs this week.
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Robert De Niro
The liberal actor and the president made headlines earlier this year for their mutual dislike of one another.
In March, during Trump’s first official trip to Los Angeles since his inauguration, the Goodfellas actor called Trump an “idiot” who “lacks any sense of humanity or compassion.”
Two days after the actor got a standing ovation at the Tony Awards for saying “f— Trump,” the president made it clear that the disdain was mutual.
Admitting to having watched the actor’s onstage appearance, Trump called De Niro “a very Low IQ individual” who had received too many “shots to the head by real boxers in movies.”
“I watched him last night and truly believe he may be ‘punch-drunk,’ ” Trump added.
Trump frequently attempts to place the blame for current political problems on his predecessor’s shoulders, and was also a leader of the “birther movement” to delegitimize the former president, but finally admitted — with little fanfare — in September that Obama was born in the U.S.
While his days in office may be over, Obama, 57, continues to advocate for Americans to vote for Democrats in the upcoming mid-term elections this November.
“Even if you don’t agree with me or Democrats on policy, even if you agree with more libertarian economic views, even if you are an evangelical and the position on social issues is a bridge too far,” he said last month. “I’m here to tell you that you should still be concerned and should still want to see a restoration of honesty and decency and lawfulness in our government.”
Trump and Biden, who may be facing each other in 2020, have a long history of trading insults.
Among his other criticisms, Biden has called the president a “joke” and called the Trump era “one of the most dangerous times in modern history.”
Trump has happily hit back. After Biden said he would have “beat the hell out of” Trump in high school for disrespecting women, Trump retaliated by calling Biden “crazy” and saying the former vice president would “go down fast and hard” in a fight.
While on the campaign trail, Trump took every opportunity he could to criticize Clinton, whom he nicknamed “Crooked Hillary,” often leading crowds at rallies in a “Lock Her Up” chant.
Although Trump went on to defeat Clinton in the presidential election and the former secretary of state has not expressed a desire to run against him in 2020, he continues to rail against her. In fact, according to a January report from the Daily Beast, it was estimated that Trump mentioned Clinton “at least 229 times since taking office.”
Former Attorney General Eric Holder
Holder, who served as Obama’s Attorney General, drew criticism from Trump after remarking at a campaign event that when Republicans go low, “we kick them.”
Trump went on to call the comment “dangerous,” telling Fox News “he better be careful what he’s wishing for,” the Washington Examiner reported.
Former CIA Chief John Brennan
While Trump frequently rails against CNN on Twitter, the package containing a bomb that was found at the Time Warner Center, home to CNN’s N.Y.C. headquarters, was addressed to former CIA director John Brennan.
In one of his many tweets against Brennan, Trump tweeted out a quote he heard on Fox and Friends that claimed Brennan was a liar.
“John Brennan, no single figure in American history has done more to discredit the intelligence community than this liar. Not only is he a liar, he’s a liar about being a liar,” the tweet read.
Brennan, an analyst for NBC News and MSNBC, but not CNN, went on to slam Trump’s response to the pipe bombs. “Stop blaming others. Look in the mirror. Your inflammatory rhetoric, insults, lies, & encouragement of physical violence are disgraceful,” he remarked during an event in Texas on Wednesday, CNN reported.
The liberal philanthropist, who declared he thought Trump’s administration is “a danger to the world” in January, most recently drew criticism from Trump after two sexual assault survivors confronted Sen. Jeff Flake in an elevator, urging him to oppose the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
Without proof, the president claimed Soros had “paid for” the protest.
“The very rude elevator screams are paid professionals only looking to make Senators look bad. Don’t fall for it!” Trump wrote on an inflammatory Twitter message.
The Democratic congresswoman, 80, and the president share an extremely antagonistic relationship.
In June, amid increased political unease stemming from Trump’s immigration policies, Waters encouraged constituents to confront “anybody” from the Trump administration if they were spotted in public, CNN reported. She also claimed that her criticism of Trump had resulted in death threats made against her.
In response, Trump christened her “Crazy Maxine Waters, said by some to be one of the most corrupt people in politics.”