US President Donald Trump accused the American media of using the arrest of one of his apparent supporters in the mail bomb case to “score political points” against him, less than two weeks before the mid-term elections.
At a rally on Friday in Charlotte, North Carolina, Trump gave a speech in which he praised law enforcement officials for the arrest and talked about “civility” and national unity, before attacking the media and encouraging chants against it, reports Efe news.
“Political violence must never ever be allowed in America and I will do everything in my power to stop it,” Trump said.
“Everyone will benefit if we can end the politics of personal destruction. We must unify as a nation in peace, love and harmony.”
The President then moved to attack the media for having reported that Cesar Altieri Sayoc, 56, the man arrested on Friday accused of sending package bombs to prominent Democratic figures and Trump critics, is one of his supporters.
Sayoc, who faces a maximum sentence of 48 years in prison if convicted, is believed to own a white van that was seized by law enforcement on Friday. It was papered with pictures celebrating Trump, images insulting Democrats, and a “CNN sucks” sticker.
“We have seen an effort by the media in recent hours to use the sinister actions of one individual to score political points against me and the Republican party,” he said.
“The media has tried to attack the incredible Americans who support our movement to give power back to the people,” said Trump, who added his followers were the most “honest”, “hardworking” and “patriotic” people “on the face of God’s Earth”.
The crowd welcomed the messages with applause and, on a couple of occasions, the President encouraged chants such as “fake news” and “CNN sucks.”
Sayoc was arrested in his home state of Florida on Friday.
He is suspected of sending package bombs – of which there were at least 13 – to Democrats and Trump critics and faces five charges, including the illegal mailing of explosives and threatening former presidents.
The FBI confirmed the packages contained “improvised explosive devices” that did not explode.