Brennan on explosive devices sent to him, Dems: I hope this is 'a turning point' for Trump's rhetoric
© Greg Nash

Former CIA Director John BrennanJohn Owen BrennanWebb: Questions for Robert Mueller A brief timeline of Trump's clashes with intelligence director Dan Coats Trump critic Brennan praises his Iran decision: I 'applaud' him MORE said Wednesday that he hoped the explosive devices sent to him and prominent Democratic officials earlier that day would signal to President TrumpDonald John TrumpSarah Huckabee Sanders becomes Fox News contributor The US-Iranian scuffle over a ship is a sideshow to events in the Gulf South Korea: US, North Korea to resume nuclear talks 'soon' MORE that his rhetoric may influence his supporters to "take matters into their own hands."

"Unfortunately I think Donald Trump has not helped to encourage the type of civil discourse and public engagement, and his rhetoric too frequently, I think, fuels these feelings and sentiments that now are bleeding over into potentially acts of violence," Brennan said during a Q&A Wednesday evening at the University of Texas at Austin.

"I think one can make an argument that it has emboldened individuals to take matters into their own hands," Brennan added, stopping short of blaming Trump for the day's events.

Brennan, who served as CIA director under former President Obama, was one of several intended recipients of suspicious packages mailed out on Wednesday. The package, which contained an explosive device, was addressed to Brennan at CNN's New York City offices. Brennan works as an NBC News contributor, though he has appeared on CNN.


Secret Service agents intercepted similar packages addressed to Obama and Bill and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonPoll shows Biden, Warren tied with Trump in Arizona The Hill's Morning Report - Trump touts new immigration policy, backtracks on tax cuts Hickenlooper announces Senate bid MORE, and authorities fielded parcels addressed to Rep. Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersBank watchdogs approve rule to loosen ban on risky Wall Street trades F-bombs away: Why lawmakers are cursing now more than ever Banks give Congress, New York AG documents related to Russians who may have dealt with Trump: report MORE (D-Calif.) and former Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderJuan Williams: Democrats finally hit Trump where it hurts GOP governor vetoes New Hampshire bill to create independent redistricting commission Why target Tucker Carlson? It's part of the left's war on the right MORE. Police also responded to calls for an explosive device found Monday night at the home of billionaire philanthropist George Soros.

None of the devices detonated before being intercepted by law enforcement.

Trump condemned the attempted attacks and said a "major federal investigation" is under way.

"I just want to tell you that in these times, we have to unify," Trump said at a White House event. "We have to come together and send one very clear, strong, unmistakable message that acts or threats of political violence of any kind have no place in the United States of America."

Brennan feigned surprise that Trump had delivered such remarks, and when the event moderator read the president's comments, audience members audibly chuckled.

The former CIA director said he believes it was important for Trump to deliver a statement calling for unity. However, he lamented that Trump did not do so sooner and voiced a desire for the president to be more consistent in his efforts to bring Americans together.

"I’m hoping that this is going to make it clear to him that what he has done heretofore, as far as a lot of this rhetoric, really is counterproductive, it is un-American, it is what a president should not be doing," Brennan said.

"What he said today is what a president should be doing," he continued. "But follow up on those words with actions, and with his future comments. I’m hoping maybe this is a turning point."

Republicans and Democrats alike have widely condemned Wednesday's attempted attacks and pleaded for cooler heads to prevail in political discourse.

However, both sides were quick to point fingers at the other for escalating the political climate to such hostile levels.

Democratic leaders pointed to Trump's attacks on Democrats at campaign rallies and elsewhere, where he has labeled the Democratic Party an "angry mob" and derided news outlets as the "enemy of the people."

Republicans have pointed to comments from Democrats urging their supporters to confront politicians over Trump administration policies and seized on subsequent protests from liberal activists.

Updated on Oct. 25 at 7:35 a.m.