The nation is very much on edge after several suspected pipe bombs were sent to the offices of CNN and prominent Democratic politicians this week, and President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly railed against the press, in a 3 AM tweet tore into the media for allegedly "blaming" him for the attempted attacks.
Funny how lowly rated CNN, and others, can criticize me at will, even blaming me for the current spate of Bombs and… https://t.co/a2oBFsdK3x— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1540538079.0
Hours after the president issued his tweet, another suspicious package was discovered, this one addressed to CNN's headquarters. The package was found at a New York postal facility and addressed to CNN and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, a prominent Trump critic who has occasionally appears on the network as a contributor.
CNN obtained a picture of the package from law enforcement.
In a statement, Clapper called the packages "domestic terrorism," a label both Trump and the White House have avoided.
"My wife and I are away from home right now. And our neighbors have been retrieving our mail. Been very concerned about them. So in one sense, it’s kind of a relief, but it’s not a surprise. This is definitely domestic terrorism. No question about it in my mind," he said, adding that the packages will "not silence the administration's critics."
“I think anyone who has in any way been a critic, publicly been a critic of President Trump, needs to be on an extra alert and take some precautions, particularly with respect to mail,” Clapper said.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed this morning that the president is being briefed on that package as well as another that was addressed to the Camden, New Jersey office of Senator Corey Booker, who has often criticized the Trump administration. The package was intercepted in Opa-locka, Florida.
“The President is receiving constant information as it is available,” Sanders said.
The president's tweet was the first time he mentioned CNN by name over its coverage of the suspicious packages and pipe bombs. He was immediately criticized.
It’s not only that Trump was up at 3:14 a.m. and thought it was a good idea to tweet attacks at a media outlet that… https://t.co/WCGg2qDQFG— Amy Siskind 🏳️🌈 (@Amy Siskind 🏳️🌈) 1540560579.0
Ponder for a moment amidst a nationwide bomb scare the President of the United States is up watching cable news at… https://t.co/wAr2VQ9hPM— Dave Briggs (@Dave Briggs) 1540540430.0
@realDonaldTrump Funny how the President of the United States has nothing better to do at 3 am than rage-tweet abou… https://t.co/hu5Gf4qYlq— Cindy Kitchel (@Cindy Kitchel) 1540550727.0
@realDonaldTrump A real president would not be up at 3AM complaining about the press. He’d be worrying about whethe… https://t.co/SHeLEXdIq7— bells (@bells) 1540560565.0
@realDonaldTrump FREE PRESS:One of the most important aspect of a democratic system is accountability. Not only acc… https://t.co/B846JvIGmM— Mary Miller (@Mary Miller) 1540560556.0
The tweet "suggests the President has little desire to play the role of national counselor being forced upon him -- one that is a poor fit given his deliberately divisive style. The drama usually ends with another layer of bile added to the nation's politics," writes CNN's Stephen Collinson.
The president's critics have noted that he has not condemned these acts of violence. The president has, to name just a few examples, called for violence against members of the press, has labeled the press “the enemy of the people,” and has repeatedly led chants at his rallies to “lock up” Hillary Clinton.
The president did issue a statement after the Time Warner Center––where CNN's headquarters are located––was evacuated on Wednesday. He pledged to “bring those responsible for these despicable acts to justice.” But his comments rang hollow for many who pointed out that it was just last week that the president praised Montana Representative Greg Gianforte for assaulting a reporter.
Trump today: “We have to unify” and send a clear message that “acts or threats of political violence have no place… https://t.co/ilt0p75bqz— Keith Boykin (@Keith Boykin) 1540406571.0
The president declined to cancel an appearance at a rally in Wisconsin this week. During that rally, he criticized the media as expected.
"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," he said, hours after the evacuation of the Time Warner Center. The media "can't take a joke," he added.