Minutes after reports emerged Friday morning that authorities recovered two new suspicious devices sent to prominent Democrats, President Trump seemed to suggest the bombs were a hoax, echoing the conspiracy theories espoused by his fringe allies.
“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,” the president tweeted. “Very unfortunate, what is going on. Republicans, go out and vote!”
The president’s conspiratorial tweet is consistent with a sentiment among many of his top right-wing media allies, who have openly suggested the pipe bombs were a “false flag” attempt to garner sympathy and votes for the Democratic Party ahead of next month’s midterm elections.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for clarification of Trump’s use of scare-quotes around the word “bomb.”
Such conspiracy theories started minutes after reports on Wednesday emerged that authorities intercepted potentially explosive devices mailed to former President Obama, former First Lady Hillary Clinton, former Attorney General Eric Holder, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), and former CIA Director John Brennan (via CNN). On Thursday, authorities intercepted similar devices sent to former Vice President Joe Biden and star actor Robert De Niro.
And on Friday, the bomb count grew larger with Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and former intel chief James Clapper (also via CNN’s address) discovered as targets.
Perhaps most infamously, talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh hinted that the Democratic Party could be behind the packages, as they would serve a political “purpose.”
“It’s happening in October,” Limbaugh remarked. “There’s a reason for this.”
On Fox News, meanwhile, multiple guests have made conspiratorial claims, including Chris Swecker, former FBI assistant director, who told Fox host Harris Faulkner that the bombs could have come from “someone who is trying to get the Democratic vote out and incur sympathy.”
By Thursday, that narrative had shifted from far-right pundits to Fox News hosts and on-air stars.
Fox Business Network host and Trump confidant Lou Dobbs became the highest-profile Trump supporter to embrace the conspiracy theory, summing it up in a slogan: “Fake news, fake bombs.” Dobbs added in a now-deleted tweet: “Who could possibly benefit from such fakery?”
And on Thursday evening, Fox News star Geraldo Rivera declared: “At the risk of sounding like a far right-wing lunatic, I have to say that I believe that this whole thing was an elaborate hoax.”
Donald Trump Jr., too, joined in on the conspiratorial thinking Thursday evening, when he “liked” a tweet declaring, in all-caps, that the devices are “FAKE BOMBS MADE TO SCARE AND PICK UP BLUE SYMPATHY VOTE.”
The two bombs found Friday are consistent with the ten other pipe bombs discovered earlier this week, a senior law-enforcement official confirmed to The Daily Beast. So far, all the mailed pipe bombs have been sent to Democratic heavyweights with several being also addressed to the headquarters of CNN.