• Trump says he bears no blame,

Merced Sun-Star (Saturday) - - Front Page - BY JONATHAN LEMIRE AND CATHER­INE LUCEY

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said Fri­day that he knows the pipe bomb sus­pect was one of his sup­port­ers, but said he bears “no blame” for the sus­pect’s ac­tions.

“There is no blame. There’s no any­thing,” Trump told re­porters at the White House be­fore leav­ing for a po­lit­i­cal rally in North Carolina.

“If you look at what hap­pened to Steve Scalise, that was a sup­porter of a dif­fer­ent party,” he said, re­call­ing the 2017 shoot­ing at a Repub­li­can base­ball prac­tice that left sev­eral wounded, in­clud­ing the con­gress­man from Louisiana.

Asked if he planned to tone down the par­ti­san rhetoric at ral­lies, which his crit­ics con­tend has deep­ened po­lit­i­cal di­vi­sions in the coun­try, Trump replied: “I think I’ve been toned down. You know, I could re­ally tone it up.”

With a sus­pect in cus­tody, Trump pledged to pros­e­cute those re­spon­si­ble for the pipe bomb scare “to the fullest ex­tent of the law.” He called for na­tional unity just hours af­ter com­plain­ing that all the fo­cus on “this ‘Bomb' stuff” was dis­tract­ing from the midterm elec­tions.

Trump, in his first re­marks since Ce­sar Sayoc was ap­pre­hended in Florida, de­clared that “we must never al­low po­lit­i­cal vi­o­lence take root in Amer­ica.” At least a dozen ex­plo­sives have been sent in re­cent days to po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents of the pres­i­dent, grip­ping the na­tion and es­ca­lat­ing po­lit­i­cal ten­sions just days ahead of the midterms.

His re­marks came a short time af­ter he tweeted a com­plaint that the me­dia’s fo­cus on bombs was dis­tract­ing from Repub­li­can ef­forts in the up­com­ing midterm elec­tions.

“Repub­li­cans are do­ing so well in early vot­ing, and at the polls, and now this “Bomb” stuff hap­pens and the mo­men­tum greatly slows – news not talk­ing pol­i­tics,” Trump tweeted in the hours be­fore Sayoc was taken into cus­tody. “Very un­for­tu­nate, what is go­ing on. Repub­li­cans, go out and vote!”

Trump’s tweet was an ef­fort to re­fo­cus at­ten­tion on the midterms that could al­ter the path of his pres­i­dency.

AN­DREW HARNIK AP

At the 2018 Young Black Lead­er­ship Sum­mit at the White House on Fri­day, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump speaks about the ar­rest in the mail bomb scare.

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