Target of bomb, former CIA director speaks in Austin, blasts Trump

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — While speaking on the University of Texas campus, Former CIA Director John Brennan criticized President Trump for his heated political rhetoric, and the role it may have played in encouraging attempted attacks on high-ranking Democrats and critics of the president.

Brennan, President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and others all had pipe bombs addressed to them, sent anonymously. 

In Brennan’s case, the bomb was sent to CNN’s New York headquarters, causing the Time Warner Center to be evacuated.

Brennan was at UT Wednesday for a previously scheduled speaking engagement at the Lyndon B. Johnson Auditorium. There he told the roughly 1,000 people in the audience that the president shares some of the blame for the attempted attacks. 

“His rhetoric I think too frequently fuels these feelings and sentiments that now are bleeding over into potential acts of violence,” Brennan said. 

Speaking at the White House Wednesday, President Trump said, “acts or threats of political violence of any kind have no place in the United States of America.”

Brennan said he appreciated the statement now, but believes it’s coming too late. 

“When he compliments individuals that have in fact body slammed others, or he’s going to pay the legal bills of somebody that takes a swing at somebody, that can only be seen as encouragement and incitement,” Brennan said. 

Before the event, U-T police brought in a bomb-sniffing dog, and officers were visible outside the auditorium’s entrance. Given the attempted attacks and deeply divided political climate, Brennan is asking for a new approach.  

“Try to do everything possible to bring that level of discourse down, so that we’re able to engage in a very constructive and productive way,” he said.

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