Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R) on Thursday appeared to blame the recipients of mail bombs for reaping what they have sown.
Asked by a TMZ correspondent whether he believed President Trump’s divisive rhetoric has played a role in dividing the country, Gingrich blamed Democratic leaders for urging their supporters to resist Trump’s anti-Democratic agenda.
“Well, you mean like Congressman [Maxine] Waters comments saying they should drive Republicans out of public? That kind?” Gingrich asked.
“Or the former Attorney General [Eric Holder] saying they should kick Republicans when they are down?” he added, leaving out that Holder told his supporters to not do anything illegal. What Holder actually said was: “Michelle [Obama] always says, you know, ‘When they go low, we go high.’ No. When they go low, we kick them. When I say we, you know, ‘We kick ’em,’ I don’t mean we do anything inappropriate, we don’t do anything illegal, but we have to be tough and we have to fight.”
When asked about Trump’s relentless attacks on the “mainstream media,” Gingrich smiled and said, “The mainstream media have often earned it.”
The correspondent pressed Gingrich on whether Trump should be escalating his attacks in light of the mail bomb campaign this week. He also noted that everyone who has been targeted by the mail bombs has “been people who have opposed the president.”
“I don’t think there is a direct connection between Trump and the people,” he said. “Look, the people you are talking about have been people who have been very hostile to conservatives.”
“Very,” he added.
Speaking at an Axios event hours later, Gingrich disavowed the right-wing conspiracies that have claimed the explosives sent to prominent Democrats are part of an elaborate “false flag” operation by the left.
“Whoever did this, however they were motivated, whoever financed it, should in fact be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law… it’s clearly attempted murder,” Gingrich said.
Asked by Axios’ Mike Allen why the right seems to fall for these conspiracy theories, Gingrich responded, “Because it’s October.”
Gingrich also said that while he doesn’t think the president’s attacks on the press are helpful, they have earned the label of “enemy of the people,” pointing specifically to CNN International as an “anti-American” media outlet.