When news surfaced that multiple explosive devices were sent to media outlets, including CNN and the San Diego Union-Tribune, as well as the homes of the Clintons and Obamas Wednesday, a slew of Republican lawmakers quickly condemned the attempted attacks as un-American, imploring people not to allow political disagreements to lead to violence.
But, rarely, if ever, have those Republicans spoken out publicly against President Donald Trump as he has repeatedly and aggressively denigrated journalists and political opponents throughout his campaign and presidency. In fact, some have defended or even joined Trump in his often violent rhetoric. And many of those same Republicans, including Trump, have instead been quick to criticize Democrats and their supporters for behaving like mobs.
Trump, himself, appeared conveniently forgetful of his own words Wednesday afternoon, when he seconded Vice President Mike Pence’s condemnation of the attempted bombings against CNN and the Clintons and Obamas.
I agree wholeheartedly! https://t.co/ndzu0A30vU
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 24, 2018
Here are some of the first Republicans who condemned the attempted bombings, while failing to condemn Trump:
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)
As ThinkProgress reporter Aaron Ruper wrote Wednesday, Cruz was one of the first to voice his concern about the attempted attacks, which took place two days after liberal philanthropist George Soros’ home was also targeted with an explosive device. Cruz tweeted, “Violence is never OK. Reports of bombs being sent to the homes of Obama, Clinton, and Soros are deeply, deeply disturbing.”
Violence is never OK. Reports of bombs sent to the homes of Obama, Clinton, and Soros are deeply, deeply disturbing. America is better than this. Political disagreements are fine, even healthy, but we should always be civil and respect each other’s humanity.
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) October 24, 2018
That’s all well and good, but Cruz was noticeably silent last week when Trump praised Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-MT) for assaulting a reporter last year, telling the crowd at his Montana rally, “Any guy that can do a body slam, he’s my kind of — he’s my guy.”
In fact, as recently as Tuesday, Cruz himself used aggressive Trumpian language at a campaign rally to disparage his opponent Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX). After one of Cruz’s supporters yelled “lock him up!” in reference to O’Rourke, Cruz joked, “Well, you know, there’s a double-occupancy cell with HIllary Clinton.”
Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA)
The Louisiana congressman, who has witnessed gun violence firsthand, spoke out against the attempted bombings Wednesday, tweeting that such acts “have no place in our politics or anywhere else in our society.”
These attempted attacks that have been made are beyond criminal, they are acts of pure terror. Violence and terror have no place in our politics or anywhere else in our society.
— Rep. Steve Scalise (@SteveScalise) October 24, 2018
It’s a nice thought. But Scalise also rushed to Trump’s defense last week over his anti-press comments, taking to Twitter to say that the president was “clearly ribbing Congressman Gianforte for last year’s incident …It’s obvious he was not encouraging his supporters to engage in attacks …”
President Trump was clearly ribbing Congressman Gianforte for last year’s incident, which he apologized for last year. It’s obvious he was not encouraging his supporters to engage in attacks, and not one person harassed the numerous media reporters who were present.
— Rep. Steve Scalise (@SteveScalise) October 19, 2018
It’s not the first time Scalise has defended the president over his combative tone. Over the summer, at a New Orleans event, he told the crowd, “The Twitter stuff that you see out there, that is what gets the big attention … But frankly when you are in meetings with [Trump], he is all business.”
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)
“We cannot tolerate any attempt to terrorize public figures,” said Speaker of the House Paul Ryan on Twitter Wednesday morning, shortly after news of the attempted bombings broke.
Those behind such reprehensible acts must be brought to justice. We cannot tolerate any attempt to terrorize public figures. I am grateful to the @SecretService, Capitol Police, and all law enforcement who guard against these threats. https://t.co/HUQQxynU9h
— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) October 24, 2018
While Ryan condemned Gianforte’s actions last year, he failed to speak up against Trump’s praise of the congressman last week. Ryan has often remained silent in the face of Trump’s belligerent rhetoric, telling CNN in June, “I think it’s far more effective for me to be talking with him directly on matters of concern than to go out and wail on him on TV and try and get some ratings for the moment.”
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)
Rubio tweeted Wednesday that “An attack on an American who happens to be a Democrat, Republican or Independent is an attack on America.”
An attack on an American who happens to be a Democrat, Republican or Independent is an attack on America. The terrorist behind this will soon find out that while a free people have politics that are conflictive,if you try to kill any of us you will have to face all of us.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) October 24, 2018
But Rubio has said precious little about Trump’s combative comments against the media and his political opponents. In June, the Florida senator explained why he and many other Republicans rarely speak out against Trump, blaming his reluctance on the media “that never cuts him a break.”
Many Republicans won’t criticize Trump even when they don’t agree with him b/c it means siding with a media that nevers cuts him a break,turns even little things he does into an act of evil,are also unfair to them & in the end will still attack you anyway https://t.co/jv3A18ka4V
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) June 27, 2018
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
“I stand with all Americans in condemning today’s attempted acts of domestic terrorism,” Senate Majority Leader McConnell said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.
I stand with all Americans in condemning today’s attempted acts of domestic terrorism. Americans are united in gratitude for @SecretService, @USPS, and other law enforcement — who protect our leaders and public figures from such unconscionable acts.https://t.co/J2T0BHW069
— Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) October 24, 2018
But not only was McConnell silent when Trump praised violence against the media, his rhetoric has often mirrored the president’s in its tone. Earlier this month, the senator blasted Democrats for encouraging violence, claiming that “only one side was happy to play host to this toxic fringe behavior. Only one side’s leaders are now openly calling for more … [Republicans] will not let mob behavior drown out all the Americans who want to legitimately participate in the policy-making process.”
Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy condemned the attempted bombings, saying that police will “hunt down the criminals who did this,” according to Roll Call.
But though he seemed concerned about the attacks against political figures and the media, he said nothing about Trump’s comments praising Gianforte for body-slamming a reporter. Furthermore, McCarthy’s Twitter feed includes a number of aggressive tweets against Democrats. Just one day after Soros’ home was targeted, McCarthy tweeted that “We cannot allow Soros … to BUY this election!”
— Kevin McCarthy (@kevinomccarthy) October 24, 2018
Earlier this week, McCarthy posted a video condemning the Democrats’ “Resistance Agenda,” with the hashtag “#JobsNotMobs.”
— Kevin McCarthy (@kevinomccarthy) October 22, 2018