Lawmakers from both parties rushed to praise the FBI and law enforcement agencies for quickly arresting a man suspected of mailing explosive devices to Democratic figures although some Democrats suggested President Donald Trump’s divisive rhetoric was partly to blame.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the FBI had arrested 56-year-old Cesar Sayoc of Florida and accused him of mailing no fewer than 13 explosive devices to such Democratic officials as former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
But even as Democrats charged that Trump is somewhat responsible because of his polarizing remarks against Democrats and the news media, even some Republicans such as Sen. Rob Portman said political figures need to reduce the decibel level of rhetoric.
“I am relieved that an arrest has been made,” said Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Niles. But in a clear reference to Trump, he warned that “elected officials at every level of government have a duty to understand the power of their words. When our language and our rhetoric is intended to divide, it will.”
Rep. Joyce Beatty, a Democrat from Columbus sounded a similar theme, saying “after a distressing and disturbing week that saw multiple critics of the Trump administration become the target of political violence, a suspect is now in custody thanks to the hard work and dedication of first responders across the nation and the FBI.
“That is why I call on everyone to condemn these terror attacks and to return to civility to help heal our nation,” Beatty said. “Political differences aside, we are all Americans first and foremost.”
While praising the work of the FBI, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said Americans as a society “need to step back from the brink. There have been a string of attempted attacks recently on prominent Americans.”
“It’s time to lower the rhetoric, and focus more on working together to deliver results for the American people,” Portman said. “Let’s treat disagreements like disagreements, not as proof that our opponents are bad people.”
Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Upper Arlington, said “ violence is absolutely unacceptable,” adding “with these threats and acts of violence, we have truly seen incivility at its worst this week. We must not let our political disagreements get to a point of violence.”
Senate Republican candidate Jim Renacci said “violence has no place in our country and is never acceptable. I want to congratulate our law enforcement officials who worked quickly to find the apparent bomber.”
Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Cincinnati, said, “I thank God that nobody was hurt. I could not be more proud of the fine job that law enforcement has done from the federal level to the local level, protecting and saving lives once again. There is no rational excuse for such violent behavior in a free country like ours.”
Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Troy, said he looks “forward to learning more.”