Donald Trump has again lashed out at the press while US authorities investigate a spate of attempted bomb attacks in which live devices were sent to CNN and prominent Democrats, including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, George Soros and Robert De Niro.
In a tweet posted at 3.14am, Mr Trump said it was “funny” how news organisations can criticise him, yet when he does the same they “go wild and scream ‘it’s just not presidential’”.
The discovery of an explosive device prompted the evacuation of CNN’s offices in New York on Wednesday. A second scare on Thursday evening saw another partial evacuation.
Mr Trump has already condemned the attacks, telling a political rally in Wisconsin on Wednesday his administration would conduct “an aggressive investigation”, and posted a video statement on Twitter.
But since then, he has repeatedly moved to implicate elements of the media.
The day after the bomb scares, which the FBI is treating as “domestic terror”, Mr Trump wrote: “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. It has gotten so bad and hateful that it is beyond description. Mainstream Media must clean up its act, FAST!”
The bomb found at CNN was in a package addressed to former CIA director John Brennan, who reacted to Mr Trump’s tweet, telling him to “look in the mirror”.
“Stop blaming others. Look in the mirror,” Mr Brennan tweeted. “Your inflammatory rhetoric, insults, lies, & encouragement of physical violence are disgraceful. Clean up your act….try to act Presidential.”
The numerous bomb threats unfolded rapidly on Wednesday, with more coming to light on Thursday. None of the ten packages detonated and nobody was injured, but there has also been no claim of responsibility for the attacks.
The incidents have heightened tension in a nation deeply polarised ahead of the midterm elections on 6 November, in which Mr Trump’s Republicans are at risk of losing their majority in the House of Representatives.
Other Democrats have also called on Mr Trump to tone down the rhetoric in the light of the attacks. On Thursday, former vice president Joe Biden, who was another of those targeted, said: “We’ve got to get off this hate machine. We’ve got to come together.”
Those targeted were in New York, Delaware and Washington DC, Florida and California.
At a media briefing on Thursday, authorities said at least some of the bombs were sent through the US mail, the Press Association reported.
The devices were packed in envelopes with bubble-wrap interiors and bearing six American flag stamps.
The return address was written as being Florida Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.
The bombs seized on Wednesday were about six inches long and packed with powder and broken glass, and made from PVC pipe covered with black tape, according to investigators who viewed X-ray images.