- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 15, 2017

The White House said Thursday that President Trump was doing his part to tone down political rhetoric and was heeding his call for unity after a gunman attacked Republican lawmakers.

White House deputy press secretary Sarah Sanders said the president is not solely responsible and does not “own” the heated rhetoric in American politics, and she said he was justified in responding to attacks.

“I think the president was extremely clear yesterday,” she said, referring to Mr. Trump’s call for unity Wednesday after the shooting at a practice for a congressional Republican baseball game.

She also said Mr. Trump has been trying to reach out to Democrats since he took office.

“I think that should go both ways,” Mrs. Sanders said.

After being praised for his tone in Wednesday’s speech, the president went on offense Thursday in several early-morning tweets, calling the news coverage of the special counsel’s Russia investigation a “witch hunt” that was “led by some very bad and conflicted people!”

“There’s been quite a bit of attacking against the president,” Mrs. Sanders said. “I think he was responding to those specific accusations. As a whole, our country could bring the tone down a little bit. I think that’s the goal the president laid out yesterday and hopefully we can all be reasonable.”

The president’s quest for unity was evident, she said, in his agenda.

“By focusing on an agenda that helps empower all Americans that something he has been very out front and vocal about making a priority, whether it is on education, creating jobs, national security — it’s about protecting and empowering Americans.”

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