WASHINGTON D.C. (WABC) -- After Saturday's synagogue shooting and the mailing of pipe bombs to critics of President Donald Trump last week, there is much debate over whether political rhetoric has contributed to the violence.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders defended the president Monday, saying he bears no responsibility in creating a nasty political environment where hate crime can flourish.
"The very first thing the president did was condemn the attack both in Pittsburgh and in the pipe bombs," Sanders said. "The very first thing the media did was blame the president and make him responsible for these ridiculous acts. That is outrageous."
With the midterm election just a week away, Trump has ratcheted up the rhetoric, demonizing a caravan of immigrants as possible terrorists and calling the media "the enemy of the people."
"He continues to spew this crazy invective against his critics, his opponents, against the media," the Washington Post's Max Boot said. "He is creating a very dangerous environment in America. He needs to stop. It is so irresponsible."
Many Democrats say Trump is creating a toxic political climate of "us versus them."
The alleged pipe bomber appears to be a huge Trump fan, while the man charged in the synagogue massacre was apparently upset about immigrants and the caravan.
"We need to understand those folks are getting license from the rhetoric on high," New Jersey Senator Cory Booker said. "They use that rhetoric in their propaganda."
In the last few days, the president has seemed to change things a bit.
"If you don't mind, I'm going to tone it down a little," Trump said. "Is that OK?"
And a new national Republican ad offers an uplifting message about improving economy.
But on Monday, Trump tweeted, "There is great anger in our country caused by the fake news media."
And the White House also hit back at any attempt to connect Trump's rhetoric to the nation's growing anger and now violence.
"The only person responsible for carrying out either of these heinous acts were the individuals who carried them out," Sanders said. "It's not the president."
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Political rhetoric debated after pipe bombs, synagogue shooting