On Wednesday, the Secret Service reported having intercepted two suspicious explosive packages sent to former first lady Hillary Clinton and former president Barack Obama. Republicans — including President Donald Trump — rushed to condemn the attempted bombings. Even so, a former staffer for Hillary Clinton blamed Trump for inciting the “hate and violence” behind the attacks, before the perpetrator or his or her motivations are known.
“Irrespective of what this person’s political leanings or motivations are, we are living in an atmosphere where hate and violence have been not only incited but condoned by Donald Trump,” Philippe Reines, former deputy assistant secretary of State under Hillary Clinton and an outside adviser who helped train Clinton for presidential debates in 2016, told MSNBC’s Craig Melvin.
He argued that Trump is to blame, even if the person behind the bombings is “the most liberal person in America.”
“Look, this could be the most liberal person in America who has some problem with these four individuals or institutions. It doesn’t really matter,” Reines argued. “There are a lot of people who are living on the edge of sanity in general … and when people in authority kind of lift the guardrails from that, people are going to act out and there is no human being more responsible for the climate we’re in than Donald Trump.”
While Trump has encouraged violence against protesters and praised Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.) for beating up a reporter, Reines’ own former boss has directly attacked civility. Clinton herself said Democrats “cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for.” Shane Mekeland, a Republican candidate for Minnesota’s state House, blamed Democrats like Clinton for inspiring the incivility that led a man to punch him out of nowhere, leaving him with a concussion and the inability to campaign outside without getting a headache.
Reines ignored all this, deciding instead to attack Trump.
“Today is the 643rd day he has been in office. I don’t think he has uttered a single word on any of those days that in any way condemns violence or tells people to dial it down,” the former Clinton staffer said.
He claimed that Trump “thrives on it. He requires it. He cannot succeed without hate and anger. For him to say everyone should dial it back would basically be him acknowledging and raising a white flag.”
On the contrary, Trump has already condemned the attack on Clinton and Obama. Shortly after news of the attack broke, the White House put out a statement declaring that “these terrorizing acts are despicable.”
Trump himself retweeted a strong condemnation from Vice President Mike Pence. “We condemn the attempted attacks against fmr Pres Obama, the Clintons, [CNN] others,” Pence declared. “These cowardly actions are despicable & have no place in this Country. Grateful for swift response of [Secret Service], [FBI] & local law enforcement. Those responsible will be brought to justice.”
I agree wholeheartedly! https://t.co/ndzu0A30vU
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 24, 2018
In the aftermath of the congressional baseball game shooting last year, Trump released a statement insisting that “everyone who serves in our nation’s capital is here because, above all, they love our country.” The president added, “We can all agree that we are blessed to be Americans, that our children deserve to grow up in a nation of safety and peace, and that we are strongest when we are unified and when we work together for the common good.”
Even so, Reines acted as though Trump had never condemned violence. Before his MSNBC appearance, he tweeted at the president, “[Donald Trump], with every fiber of your rotten being you‘ve incited & condoned hate. Never in 643 days have you discouraged people from unleashing the violence inside them. Your very existence requires anger & fear. You need it like normal people need oxygen. This is on you.”
.@realDonaldTrump with every fiber of your rotten being you‘ve incited & condoned hate. Never in 643 days have you discouraged people from unleashing the violence inside them. Your very existence requires anger & fear. You need it like normal people need oxygen.
This is on you.
— Philippe Reines (@PhilippeReines) October 24, 2018
Trump has undermined civility to some degree, but Democrats like Hillary Clinton, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), Eric Holder, and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) have directly encouraged protesters to confront Republicans wherever they are, accosting them and their families at home, in restaurants, and elsewhere. Any discussion of the erosion of civility in America cannot leave out the Democrats.
Finally, Trump has indeed condemned violence. Reines’ claim is utterly false.
Watch his interview below.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.