Some experts say Trump’s influence on the caustic atmosphere is overblown.
“He may be more of a symptom of the problem than its cause,” associate professor Timothy Hagle of the University of Iowa said.
Others say the blame starts with the president.
“Words matter, particularly when they’re spoken by those at the top of government,” Republican Senator Jeff Flake told CNN, adding Trump should dial down his rhetoric.
“People hear that and they follow it.”
Aren’t Democrats responsible too?
Some Democrats have urged aggressive action against Trump and his team.
California congresswoman Maxine Waters — one of the targets of the mail bomb attacks, framed by Trump as a “low IQ person” — told supporters in June to “push back” on cabinet officials dining or shopping in public.
Former CIA director John Brennan called Trump’s behavior alongside Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin this year “nothing short of treasonous,” outraging the White House.
Brennan was also among those threatened with suspicious packages.
Obama’s attorney general Eric Holder this month urged more forceful opposition to Republicans, saying “when they go low, we kick ’em.”
Trump hit back days later, telling Fox, “He better be careful what he’s wishing for.” A suspicious package to Holder was intercepted Wednesday.
Gruesome violence has also erupted. Last year a man who worked for Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign opened fire on congressional Republicans, gravely wounding Representative Steve Scalise.
Clinton herself stoked tensions this month when she said “civility can start again” when Democrats regain control of Congress.
“There are too many Democratic politicians that are actively encouraging this,” Republican Senator Ted Cruz told NBC.
Will this impact midterms?
The jury is still out. November 6 is days away, and Republicans are struggling to hold their congressional majorities.
Trump, aiming to galvanize his base, is raising the alarm about the caravan. But the mail bombs pose a new conundrum.
Conservatives in Trump’s camp were already suggesting publicly that the mail bombs were part of a Democratic conspiracy to gain sympathy votes.