Was Anyone In The North Carolina GOP Office When It Was Firebombed? Officials Are Searching For Suspects

On Sunday, news broke that a Republican Party office in North Carolina had been firebombed overnight. Authorities at the local and federal level quickly launched investigations, and Donald Trump quickly fired off an inappropriate tweet about the incident — but was anyone in the North Carolina GOP office when it was firebombed?

It's impossible to say with 100 percent certainty, but all signs suggest that nobody was in the office during the attack. First of all, nobody was injured in the firebombing. Secondly, the damage to the office wasn't reported until Sunday morning at around 9:00 a.m. ET, even though authorities believe the attack took place Saturday evening. In conjunction, these facts make it highly unlikely that anyone was in the office when it was attacked.

That said, authorities still don't know very much about the attack, so it's probably best to avoid drawing any huge conclusions just yet.

Unfortunately, the Republican presidential candidate, however, has drawn a conclusion, and it's a big, unsubstantiated one: He thinks Hillary Clinton's supporters are behind the attack. In an ill-advised tweet, Trump denounced the "animals representing Hillary Clinton and Dems in North Carolina" who, in his mind, had firebombed the office. To be clear, there's no evidence linking Clinton, her operatives, or her supporters to the attack.

The other claim Trump made in his tweet — "we are winning" — is also not true. He is, according to multiple election forecasters, losing.

It's important to be clear what this firebombing attack was, and what it wasn't. It was illegal, destructive, unwarranted and, given the heightened political tensions that this election has caused, frightening. It's always a cause for concern when political actors engage in physical violence during an election.

But this attack was not, contrary to the claims of North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, "an attack on our democracy." The office was occupied by the Orange County branch of the Republican Party, not a government agency, and the destruction of that office in no way affects the voting process that will take place on Election Day. McCrory likely made his comments in an effort to bolster Trump's baseless argument that the election will be rigged, but don't be fooled — this is a rhetorical sleight-of-hand with no basis in fact.

The incident is being investigated by the Hillsborough Police Department and the federal bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. Neither agency has yet identified any suspects in the attack.