President Donald Trump on Friday said he will “probably pass” on reaching out to the former first families who were the intended recipients of improvised mail bombs sent this week.
Asked whether he would call the Obamas and Clintons, Trump said, “If they wanted me to, but I think we’ll probably pass.”
Trump has issued mixed messages as the bomb threats emerged, calling for unity while simultaneously pinning responsibility on the media and refusing to dial down his own inflammatory language.
Asked if he would pledge to tone his rhetoric, Trump told reporters on the White House South Lawn: “I think I’ve been toned down, if you want to know the truth. I could really tone it up because, as you know, the media’s been extremely unfair to me and to the Republican Party.”
He added: “I think the media’s been very, very unfair in terms of the Republican Party and how it’s been covered. They understand that. They write articles about that, many of them admit that, but the media has been unbelievably unfair to Republicans, conservatives and certainly to me. But with all of that being said we’re winning so I like that.”
A South Florida man was arrested and charged Friday in connection with the threats. The suspect, 56-year-old Cesar Sayoc, is a registered Republican who posted virulent messages supporting Trump on social media.
Upon Sayoc’s arrest, law enforcement officers also seized a van plastered with stickers expressing support for Trump and criticizing Democrats. Asked about the vehicle, Trump said he did not see his face on it but had “heard” that the suspect “preferred me over others.” The van clearly featured Trump’s name and face.
Authorities began searching for mail bombing suspects on Monday when a suspicious package was found addressed to progressive donor George Soros. More than a dozen such packages have now been found, all addressed to prominent Trump critics. One package, addressed to former CIA Director John Brennan and sent to CNN, prompted the evacuation of the outlet’s New York headquarters on Wednesday. Brennan actually works at MSNBC and NBC News.
The office of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), the former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, was listed as the return address on the suspicious packages.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he did not know what Sayoc’s motive was, but noted that the suspect “appears to be a partisan.”