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Trump: I didn't start the fire - the media did

A package addressed to actor Robert De Niro

A package addressed to actor Robert De Niro containing a suspected explosive device was found Thursday morning in a TriBeCa building, the NYPD said. Credit: Jeff Bachner

Trump relights the fuse

So much for "In these times, we have to unify." That was Wednesday. Old news.

While the FBI tried to learn who was responsible for sending 10 pipe bombs to CNN, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and an assortment of other Democrats and critics that Donald Trump wouldn't count as "fine people" from the other side, the president went back to body-slamming the news media

"A very big part of the Anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the Mainstream Media that I refer to as Fake News. It has gotten so bad and hateful that it is beyond description," Trump tweeted Thursday morning. "Mainstream Media must clean up its act, FAST!" 

And at 3:14 a.m. Friday, the president was up whining in particular about CNN—again.

That was just a few hours before it was announced that two more suspicious packages were found, addressed to Sen. Corey Booker (D-N.J.) and former national intelligence director James Clapper. 

So it seems the president now believes in political climate change, but that it is in no way Trump-caused, such as when he stirs up rage from his core supporters at "evil" Democrats who want to destroy America by turning it into "a giant sanctuary for criminal aliens and MS-13 killers." Nor does it have anything to do with calling journalists "enemies of the American people."

Never non-partisan

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called it "disgraceful" to suggest the president bears responsibility for the packages sent to his opponents. She told reporters Thursday there's a big difference between "comments made and actions taken."

Asked whether Trump intended to tone down his rhetoric and personal attacks, Sanders said the president would "continue to lay out the case in the differences between Democrats and Republicans" ahead of the Nov. 6. midterm elections.

Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) pointed to the president’s tweet on Thursday morning as motivation for Democrats to turn out at the polls. "I didn’t think his narcissism could sink to this ugly of a place. But it has. And now we need to vote,"  Murphy tweeted. For more on the bombs investigation, see Newsday's staff story.

The FBI's unenviable job

Given Trump's efforts to politicize FBI and Justice Department investigations, it's no sure thing that Trump will cheer the result if the bureau solves the case, writes Newsday's Dan Janison. The key to Trump's reaction: how he looks.

If the accused indeed proves to be from the Trump or "alt-right" camp, the president could air doubts. Conversely, you can expect full-fledged blame against the "out" party if Trump loyalists' conspiracy theories of a "false flag" crime by leftist provocateurs prove credible just this once.

Fighting words

The latest two identified targets of the bombs, former Vice President Joe Biden and actor Robert De Niro, have gotten verbally physical with Trump at times.

In a video in October 2016, De Niro said of Trump, "He talks how he wants to punch people in the face? Well, I'd like to punch him in the face." Since Trump became president, De Niro has launched profane blasts at him, including at the Tony Awards in June.

Biden said after the "Access Hollywood" tape surfaced, with Trump's boast about groping women, that he wished they were in high school so "I could take him behind the gym."

Boots on the border

Promising action against a caravan of Central American migrants making its way through Mexico, Trump is getting the Pentagon to send 800 or so active-duty soldiers to the border. But they won't be on armed security missions.

The plan calls for them to join about 2,000 National Guard troops to provide logistical and other support to the Border Patrol. Trump has tried to make the caravan a top election issue, claiming without a basis that "Middle Easterners" were in it and Democrats were behind it. He said he would call out the military to respond to a "national emergency."

Down on the pharma

With the election less than two weeks away, Trump on Thursday took a step toward fulfilling a 2016 campaign promise to bring down drug prices. He said his administration will reduce prescription drug costs, allowing Medicare to pay for certain drugs based on pricing used in other developed nations, putting an end to “global freeloading.”

The plan would not apply to medicines people buy at the pharmacy, just ones administered in a doctor's office, as are many cancer medications and drugs for immune system problems. Officials also said the proposal could take more than a year to put into effect. But pharmaceutical industry representatives are  already unhappy.

For more, see Candice Ferrette's story for Newsday.

50 shades of lies 

It was another day on Anthony Scaramucci's book tour and another day for the self-described front-stabber to take a stab at explaining Trump's open relationship with truth.

“He’s an intentional liar, it’s very different from just being a liar liar,” Scaramucci told Bloomberg TV. The intention is "to incite certain people, which would include left-leaning journalists and most of the left-leaning politicians.” (Click here for video)

That was supposed to be Scaramucci's cleanup of his comments on CNN Wednesday that Trump "is a liar" but doesn't need to be and "should probably dial down the lying."

Scaramucci's book, "Trump, the Blue-Collar President, "isn't just about Trump. It's also a recollection of Scaramucci's childhood in Port Washington and his job as a Newsday delivery boy, which lasted longer than his 11-day turn as White House communications director, writes Newsday's Tom Beer.

What else is happening:

  • Kardashian kin come, Kardashian kin go. Caitlyn Jenner has renounced her past support for Trump, writing in a Washington Post op-ed that "the trans community is being relentlessly attacked by this president." Trump still has Kanye in his corner.
  • What if the nationalist firebrand who touts himself as the mastermind of Trump's 2016 victory held a rally for Republican candidates, but none of them came? That's what happened on a visit by Steve Bannon to the Buffalo area Wednesday. Two days earlier, Bannon drew a crowd of 38 to a Staten Island screening of his "Trump at War" film.
  • In a debate against her long-shot GOP rival Chele Farley, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand pledged to serve out her full six-year U.S. Senate term if re-elected, which would seem to preclude running for president in 2020, reports Newsday's Emily Ngo.
  • Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Charles Grassley has asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation of lawyer Michael Avenetti and his client Julie Swetnick, who made allegations linking Brett Kavanaugh to gang rapes while the panel was weighing his Supreme Court nomination. Grassley charged they knowingly misled the committee.
  • Avenatti, who gained fame as porn star Stormy Daniels' lawyer, has been touting himself as a potential 2020 Democratic candidate. He stirred an uproar after Time magazine quoted him on Thursday as saying the nominee "better be a white male" because women are treated unfairly in the process. 
  • Trump lawyer Alan Futerfas told a New York judge Thursday that Trump's foundation got stuck paying $10,000 at an auction for a giant portrait of him because no one else would bid on it, the New York Post reported. The state attorney general has sued the charity, accusing it of self-dealing.

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