White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders stands beside monitors showing US President Donald J. Trump delivering a statement on the economy, at the beginning of a news conference in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, January 4, 2018.
Michael Reynolds/EPA

As Trump acknowledges Texas bombings, White House denies links to ‘terrorism’

We talked briefly yesterday about the fourth explosion in less than three weeks in Austin, a situation that led Austin Police Chief Brian Manley to tell reporters, “We are clearly dealing with a serial bomber.”

Today, the story grew even more serious.

A package that exploded at a FedEx distribution center near San Antonio early Tuesday is linked to four blasts in Austin this month, a source briefed on the investigation told NBC News.

Tuesday’s explosion occurred around 12:25 a.m. local time (1:25 a.m. ET) in the sorting area of a facility in Schertz, Texas, officials said…. [A] source briefed on the investigation later told NBC News that the blasts are linked.

This afternoon, three weeks after the first incident, Donald Trump “broke his silence” on the bombings, telling reporters in the Oval Office, “This is obviously a very, very sick individual, or maybe individuals. These are sick people, and we will get to the bottom of it.”

What struck me as especially notable, however, was a statement from White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who published a tweet on this earlier today. Much of the missive was what you’d expect it to say – the president’s spokesperson said Trump “mourns for victims” and officials are “monitoring the situation” – though Sanders added, “There is no apparent nexus to terrorism at this time.”


I realize there’s still an investigation underway, and those responsible have not yet been apprehended, but given what we know, how in the world could a series of bombings in Texas – which have killed two Americans and left others injured – not be considered “terrorism”?

In all likelihood, Sanders probably meant there’s no reason to believe the violence in Texas is connected to international terrorist networks. But therein lies a larger point: domestic terrorist threats don’t have to come from faraway sources to be terrorism.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said this morning, “We need to do everything humanly possible to catch this terrorist.” Right, because this is terrorism.

Republicans spent the better part of the Obama era insisting that dealing with security issues properly means using specific words and phrases. If that’s true, perhaps the Trump White House can agree that this counts as terrorism?