By Alexander Santana
Suspicious packages containing potential explosive devices were sent to multiple current and former government leaders, donors, and media outlets, raising concerns over the current political climate in the United States.
Most recently, two additional pipe bombs, one addressed to former Vice President Joseph Biden and the other to actor Robert De Niro were found in Delaware and New York City, law enforcement officials said on Thursday.
The packages were sent to the New York home of former President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary, the Washington, D.C. home of former President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle, and billionaire and philanthropist George Soros on Wednesday.
Separately, another suspicious package was mailed to CNN’s New York bureau at Time Warner Center, prompting an evacuation of the whole building. Additional packages intercepted by law enforcement were sent to the districts offices of Congresswomen Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Debbie Wasserman Shultz (D-FL). A package was also sent to Congresswoman Waters’ Washington, D.C. office.
The U.S. Secret Service released the following statement, “Late on October 23, 2018, the Secret Service recovered a single package addressed to Former First Lady Hillary Clinton in Westchester County, New York. Early this morning, October 24, 2018, a second package addressed to the residence of Former President Barack Obama was intercepted by Secret Service personnel in Washington, DC.”
The statement also mentioned that the suspicious packages were not delivered to the Clinton or Obama residences since they were “immediately identified during routine mail screening procedures as potential explosive devices and were appropriately handled as such.”
While at a Miami fundraiser for Democrat Donna Shalala’s campaign to succeed retiring Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Secretary Hillary Clinton stated “It is a troubling time, isn’t it, and it’s a time of deep divisions and we have to do everything we can to bring our country together.”
President Clinton tweeted a statement thanking the Secret Service and law enforcement for responding to the packages. He stated “They work tirelessly to keep our country and communities safe. I am forever grateful for their efforts.”
In a statement released Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “We condemn the attempted violent attacks recently made against President Obama, President Clinton, Secretary Clinton, and other public figures. These terrorizing acts are despicable, and anyone responsible will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
Soros, an 88-year-old Hungarian-American and Democratic Party donor, received a package on Monday. The New York Times reported that a suspicious package found in a mailbox outside his home in Katonah, New York “was left there by someone and was not delivered by the Postal Service, several law enforcement officials said Tuesday.”
The Times also revealed that a caretaker of Soros’ home discovered the device and placed it in the woods. The device “was constructed from a length of pipe about six inches long filled with explosive powder, and was ‘proactively detonated’ by bomb squad technicians, according to one of the officials, all of whom were briefed on the investigation.”
The package sent to CNN’s New York studio at Time Warner Center prompted officials to evacuate the complex during a live television broadcast. CNN president Jeff Zucker emailed employees saying the company would be “checking all bureaus around the world, out of a complete abundance of caution.”
The New York Times reports that the package sent to CNN was addressed to John Brennan, the former Director of the CIA under President Obama. Brennan, who has been critical of the Trump administration, is a contributor for NBC News, not CNN.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters at a press conference that events appeared to be terror related.
“What we saw here today was effort to terrorize,” de Blasio said. “This clearly is an act of terror attempting to undermine our free press and leaders of this country through acts of violence.”
New York City’s police commissioner, James P. O’Neill, Jr. said the bomb sent to CNN was “a live explosive device” and the package containing the bomb had white powder in it and would be analyzed by the FBI.
Four other suspicious packages were also mailed other government officials. One was found at the Sunrise, FL district office of Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz, former chair of the Democratic National Committee. There are reports the package was actually addressed to Eric Holder, former U.S. Attorney General under President Obama. The Washington Examiner reported “the package was then sent to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s office in Florida because that address was on the return label.”
Packages were also sent to both the Washington, DC and Los Angeles offices of Congresswoman Waters, a frequent Trump critic. Another package caused the evacuation of the building housing the newsroom of the San Diego Union Tribune and the San Diego office of Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA).
All mail packages sent to members of Congress’ Washington, D.C. offices are first sent to congressional screening facilities before arriving at their Capitol Hill offices. None of the devices contained in the packages exploded, but law enforcement officials say several of the devices were live. The CNN package also contained a white power-like substance, but officials have not confirmed if it is toxic.
President Donald Trump stated Wednesday afternoon that the federal government will “bring those responsible for these despicable acts to justice.” He continued, “I just want to tell you that in these times, we have to unify, we have to come together, and send one very clear, strong, unmistakable message that acts or threats of political violence of any kind have no place in the United States of America,”
The President also stated he had been briefed of the packages by the FBI and that “This egregious conduct is abhorrent to everything we hold dear and sacred as Americans.”
Vice President Mike Pence tweeted a statement saying “We condemn the attempted attacks against fmr Pres Obama, the Clintons, @CNN & others. These cowardly actions are despicable & have no place in this Country. Grateful for swift response of @SecretService, @FBI & local law enforcement. Those responsible will be brought to justice.”