Bi­par­ti­san call for Trump to cool tone

Scalise faces ‘dif­fi­cult strug­gle’ after be­ing shot on Vir­ginia ball field

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY SALLY PER­SONS This story is based in part on wire ser­vice dis­patches.

As law­mak­ers search for a new tone in Wash­ing­ton, both Repub­li­cans and Democrats eyed Pres­i­dent Trump as a nec­es­sary part of the so­lu­tion Thurs­day, say­ing he has the power — and even the duty — to lead a change in the con­ver­sa­tion.

Rep. Mark San­ford, South Carolina Repub­li­can, said Mr. Trump was “par­tially” to blame for the hos­tile rhetoric that has con­sumed pol­i­tics since the 2016 elec­tion, and which many an­a­lysts said helped set the stage for this week’s hor­rific base­ball field at­tack on GOP law­mak­ers.

“I would ar­gue the pres­i­dent has un­leashed, par­tially — again, not in any way to­tally — but par­tially to blame for the demons that have been un­leashed,” Mr. San­ford said on MSNBC.

Rep. Joseph Crow­ley, who, as chair­man of the House Demo­cratic Cau­cus, is one of the party’s chief mes­sage­mak­ers, also looked to Mr. Trump for rea­sons the po­lit­i­cal de­bate has be­come ven­omous.

“I think much of that tone is set by the pres­i­dent him­self and the ac­tions that he’s taken,” the New York Demo­crat said on CNN.

He quickly said, how­ever, that his crit­i­cism shouldn’t be taken to be an at­tack on the pres­i­dent per­son­ally.

“My con­stituency does feel un­der duress right now by the pres­i­dent’s ac­tions, and so what I’m speak­ing of is his ac­tions,” he ex­plained. “I’m not at­tack­ing the per­son of the pres­i­dent but the poli­cies or the ac­tions that he’s tak­ing.”

The bal­ance Mr. Crow­ley tried to strike is em­blem­atic of the chal­lenge faced by mem­bers of Congress. They rep­re­sent a deeply di­vided coun­try with fiercely held views and a ten­dency to look at the other side as “what has gone wrong” in na­tional pol­i­tics.

Mean­while, GOP House Whip Steve Scalise faces a “much more dif­fi­cult” strug­gle to re­cover from his gun­shot wound than first thought, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said Thurs­day. The House lurched back to busi­ness in a somber mood as law en­force­ment tracked the path the shooter trav­eled to his ball field carnage.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors study­ing Wed­nes­day’s at­tack at a sub­ur­ban Vir­ginia park said shooter James Hodgkin­son had ob­tained his ri­fle and hand­gun from li­censed firearms deal­ers. Capi­tol Po­lice said they had “no ev­i­dence to sug­gest that the pur­chases were not law­ful.”

Hodgkin­son, a Belleville, Illi­nois, home in­spec­tor who had been liv­ing out of his van near the park, had a so­cial me­dia page filled with crit­i­cism of Repub­li­cans and the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion. He died after of­fi­cers in Scalise’s se­cu­rity de­tail fired back at him.

The FBI said it was in­ves­ti­gat­ing the shooter’s “ac­tiv­i­ties and so­cial me­dia im­pres­sions in the months lead­ing up to yes­ter­day’s in­ci­dent.” Au­thor­i­ties also were go­ing over a cell­phone, com­puter and cam­era taken from Hodgkin­son’s white van, which was parked near the ball field.

Col­leagues who vis­ited Scalise at a Wash­ing­ton hos­pi­tal sounded gen­er­ally up­beat — but spoke more in terms of hopes than the con­fi­dent pre­dic­tions of the im­me­di­ate af­ter­math a day ear­lier.

Demo­crat Cedric Rich­mond, a fel­low Louisiana con­gress­man, said as many oth­ers did that Mr. Scalise is a fighter. “I’m prayer­ful he will pull through, and I hope he does,” he said.

The White House said Mr. Trump is do­ing his part to calm things and is heed­ing his own call for unity after this week’s at­tack. Deputy press sec­re­tary Sarah San­ders also said Mr. Trump has been mak­ing that point to Democrats.

“I think that should go both ways,” said Ms. San­ders.

After be­ing praised for his tone in the speech, the pres­i­dent Thurs­day morn­ing went on of­fense. He called the news cov­er­age of the spe­cial coun­sel’s Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion a “witch hunt” that was “led by some very bad and con­flicted peo­ple!”

“There’s been quite a bit of at­tack­ing against the pres­i­dent,” said Ms. San­ders. “I think he was re­spond­ing to those spe­cific ac­cu­sa­tions. As a whole, our coun­try could bring the tone down a lit­tle bit. I think that’s the goal the pres­i­dent laid out yes­ter­day, and hope­fully we can all be rea­son­able.”

Anger at Mr. Trump has boiled over in town hall meet­ings held by Repub­li­cans this year.

Mr. San­ford said he’s never seen any­thing like it dur­ing his time in pol­i­tics.

“I was at a town hall meet­ing — it was at a se­nior cen­ter, at a re­tire­ment cen­ter, and what took place in terms of what peo­ple were say­ing to each other was like out of a movie, and so we’ve got to find a way to dial this back,” he said.

Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee spokesman Chase Jen­nings said blam­ing Mr. Trump for be­ing part of the cause of the shoot­ing was wrong­headed.

“The shooter and the shooter alone is to blame for this hor­ri­ble crime,” Mr. Jen­nings said.

House Mi­nor­ity Leader Nancy Pelosi, Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat, said Repub­li­cans were be­ing “sanc­ti­mo­nious” about the causes of the shoot­ing, and de­manded they ac­cept part of the blame.

“This sick in­di­vid­ual does some­thing de­spi­ca­ble, and it was hor­ri­ble what he did … but for them to all of a sud­den be sanc­ti­mo­nious, as if they’d never seen such a thing be­fore — I don’t even want to go into the pres­i­dent of the United States and some of the lan­guage he’s used,” Mrs. Pelosi said.

One Repub­li­can ac­knowl­edged his own con­tri­bu­tion to in­flam­ing the po­lit­i­cal de­bate in the af­ter­math of the shoot­ing. Rep. Chris Collins of New York apol­o­gized for his re­marks Wed­nes­day blam­ing Democrats for the at­tack.

“I think, in that emo­tion, I did lash out, and it would cer­tainly ap­pear this anger is cer­tainly tied to the rhetoric go­ing on. I did say what I said, that I was putting the blame on the Democrats’ doorstep. When the emo­tion of that in­stance wore off, I looked in the mir­ror and said that’s not the right tone,” said Mr. Collins on CNN.

“I’m will­ing to ad­mit that was wrong for me to say,” he ex­plained. “And I my­self am go­ing to try to tone down the rhetoric.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

In the wake of a shoot­ing at a Vir­ginia ball field that put Rep. Steve Scalise in the hos­pi­tal, Repub­li­cans and Democrats alike are call­ing on Pres­i­dent Trump to set a new, more even tone in Wash­ing­ton after his di­vi­sive 2016 cam­paign led to a heated at­mos­phere that pre­ceded gun­man James Hodgkin­son’s rampage.

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