Trump denies his political rhetoric may have inspired mail-bomb spree

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- As he left the White House to rally supporters in North Carolina, President Trump denied his political rhetoric may have inspired Cesar Sayoc's mail-bomb spree.

"Well I think I have been toned down, if you want to know the truth, I could really tone it up because as you know, the media's been extremely unfair to me and the Republican party," Mr. Trump said. 

He also said he did not see his picture on the side of Sayoc's van.

"I heard he was a person that preferred me over others but I did not see that," Mr. Trump said. 

Shortly after Sayoc's arrest was announced, the president promised to help unify the country.  

"We must never allow political violence to take root in America, cannot let it happen," Mr. Trump said. "And I'm committed to doing everything in my power as president to stop it, and to stop it now." 

But on Twitter, the president has adopted a different tone. Around 3 a.m., Mr. Trump lashed out at CNN accusing the cable network of blaming him for the bombs, tweeting "yet when I criticize them they go wild and scream, 'it's just not Presidential!'"

Just moments before the FBI arrested Sayoc Friday morning, Mr. Trump lamented that the bombs were distracting voters from the midterm elections: "Republicans are doing so well in early voting, and at the polls, and now this 'Bomb' stuff happens."

His tweet mirrored those of conservative pundits who suggested Wednesday that the bomb scares were staged for political purposes.  

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper -- a target of one of the mail bombs -- said the president should stick to the script. "I'm not suggesting a direct cause-and-effect relationship between anything he's said or done and these -- and the distribution of these explosives. But I do think he bears some responsibility for the coarseness of civility of the dialogue in this country," Clapper said. 

Mr. Trump was asked if he plans to reach out to the Obamas or some of the individuals targeted, but he said he'll probably pass.