Vice president Mike Pence said President Donald Trump bears no responsibility for the recent string of mail bombs delivered to his Democratic critics on Friday.
On Friday, federal authorities arrested 56-year-old Cesar Sayoc in connection with explosives sent to prominent Democrats and CNN. Many of the packages were addressed to high-ranking Obama Administration officials, including former President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former CIA Director John Brennan and former Attorney General Eric Holder.
Authorities did not comment on Sayoc’s motives, but his social media accounts appear to show he shared right-wing conspiracy theories and was an avid Trump supporter.
Pence told ABC White House Correspondent Tara Palmeri that Sayoc’s political leanings do not implicate Trump.
“Look, the reality is the people responsible are the people responsible,” he said.” And what the President and I stand for, and I think every American stands for, is that threats or acts of political violence from anyone, anywhere, for any reason should not be allowed.”
Palmeri asked if the President’s past use of violent rhetoric towards reporters and news outlets could be part of the problem; only last week at a Montana rally Trump praised Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte for body slamming a reporter.
“Well, I mean, clearly the President was joking in Montana,” Pence responded. “And I think the President and I both are frustrated from time to time with the fact that many in the media focus on the negative and don’t tell the whole story of what’s happening all across this country.”
Pence told Palmeri that Trump is within his rights to call on the media to be “more balanced” while still believing in a free and independent press.
“I think most Americans understand this President, they understand his heart,” Pence said. “I really do believe that people understand that those who engage in threats are acts of violence are the people that are responsible for it.”