In Wake of Mail Bombs, Vt. Leaders Decry Toxic Politics

Rep. Peter Welch and Gov. Phil Scott called for greater civility and understanding.

Vermont political leaders are reacting to this week's discovery of mail bombs, targeting prominent figures in public life, including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and actor Robert de Niro.

"It's a heinous crime," Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vermont, said. "It's awful."

Welch decried the string of mail bombs, which were also sent to other prominent Democrats, and to news network CNN.

Federal investigators are scrambling to track down their sender and figure out that person's motives, which appear to be political.

Elected officials from both sides of the aisle are now calling for civility, and an end to toxic politics.

"It's absolutely essential that, no matter what our differences are, we have mutual respect," Welch said Thursday. "Whatever our position is, we really have to understand that at the core, we all have a commitment to this country."

Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vermont, has labeled political polarization one of the greatest threats to our nation, and called us weaker as a people when we stop listening, stop working together and stop seeking common ground.

After the bomb discoveries, Scott tweeted, "I want to reiterate the urgent need for us to come together as Americans and focus on what unites us, rather than what divides us."

Lt. David Petersen from the Vermont State Police bomb squad said Thursday that units like his around the country have been sharing information on the devices as the investigation unfolds.

"So that we can have that understanding of what we might be dealing with here in Vermont, should one of these packages arrive here," Petersen told necn affiliate NBC 5 News, describing the reason for information-sharing.

The offices of Vermont's congressional delegation told NBC 5 Thursday they have not received threatening mailings such as were discovered elsewhere.

While the FBI is taking the lead on the national investigation, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service out of Boston said Thursday that suspicious mailings are taken very seriously, and that it has sophisticated screening protocols aimed at ensuring a safe and secure mail system.

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