Just hours after several pipe bombs were sent to political rivals, Donald Trump has launched a new attack on the media.
Speaking at a rally in Wisconsin, the President said the media has ‘a responsibility to set a civil tone and to stop the endless hostility’.
His speech came after New York City’s police commissioner said a package sent to TV news channel CNN – who have come under frequent criticism from Trump – contained a live explosive and an envelope containing white powder.
The powder was tested and determined to have been harmless, according to a law enforcement official.
Trump called for more civility in public life, saying: ‘Those engaged in the political arena must stop treating political opponents as being morally defective.
‘No one should carelessly compare political opponents to historic villains, which is done often.’
Trump also hit out at the pipe bomb packages, saying ‘any acts or threats of political violence are an attack on our democracy itself’.
But Democratic Senate and House leaders Chuck Schumer of New York and Nancy Pelosi of California said such words ‘ring hollow’ when coming from Trump.
A series of glass-filled pipe bombs targeted Hillary Clinton, former president Barack Obama, other prominent Democrats and CNN.
None of the bombs detonated as law enforcement took them away for examination and disposal.
The first crude bomb to be discovered had been delivered on Monday to the New York compound of George Soros, a liberal billionaire and major contributor to Democratic causes.
The FBI said an additional package was intended for former Attorney General Eric Holder, but that one ended up at a Florida office of Democratic Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, whose return address was on it.
Later on Wednesday, the FBI said two additional packages addressed for Democrat Representative Maxine Waters had been intercepted that were similar in appearance to five others.
The targets of the bombs were some of the figures most frequently criticised by Trump.
Trump has accused Mr Soros of paying protesters and singles out cable news network CNN as he rails against the ‘fake news’ media.
Law enforcement officials said all the packages were similar: manila envelopes with bubble-wrap interior bearing six stamps and the return address of Florida Representative Schultz.
The pipe bombs were packed with powder and shards of glass. The devices, each with a small battery, were made from PVC pipe about six inches long and covered with black tape, said a law enforcement official who viewed X-ray images.
The devices all were sent to an FBI lab in Virginia to be studied. Officials provided no details on a possible suspect or motive.
John Miller, the New York Police Department’s head of intelligence and counter-terrorism, said: ‘Suffice it to say, it appears an individual or individuals sent out multiple, similar packages.’
The US Secret Service intercepted a bomb that was addressed to Hillary Clinton at the New York home she shares with former president Bill Clinton, and another that was sent to Mr Obama at his home in Washington.
A police bomb squad removed still another from CNN’s New York office, which was evacuated.
The CNN package was addressed to former CIA Director John Brennan, who has publicly clashed with Trump and is a regular television contributor.
Speaking at an event in Austin, Texas, Mr Brennan called the spate of pipe bombs ‘an unfortunate turn of events’.
He added: ‘Unfortunately, I think Donald Trump, too often, has helped to incite some of these feelings of anger, if not violence, when he points to acts of violence or also talks about swinging at somebody from the press, the media.’
New York City Police Commissioner James O’Neill says investigators are reviewing security video to see if they can identify a courier believed to have delivered the pipe bomb package to CNN’s office.
Neither Mrs Clinton nor Mr Obama received the packages sent to them, and neither was at risk because of screening procedures, the Secret Service said.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement: ‘These terrorising acts are despicable, and anyone responsible will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.’