Explosive devices sent to Hillary Clinton, Obama, other prominent Democrats, and CNN
ABC News(NEW YORK) — A series of explosive devices were sent to Hillary Clinton, former President Barack Obama, a number of other prominent Democrats and the New York City building that houses CNN, sparking condemnation from law enforcement officials and elected leaders.
The spate of incidents come on the heels of a pipe bomb found Monday in the mailbox at the New York home of billionaire George Soros, a supporter of Democrats who is often criticized by right-wing groups.
All of the packages were intercepted before they reached the people they were addressed to. It was not clear if the incidents were linked, but officials feared that more devices and packages may already have been sent.
An FBI official condemned what he said appeared to be an attempt to further political aims.
“The utilization of violence in order to further one’s own political agenda is unacceptable to us, and we will not rest until we … stop these hazardous devices from being mailed, and bring the individual or individuals to justice,” FBI official Bryan Paarmann said at a press conference in New York City.
President Trump at the White House said, “This egregious conduct is abhorrent to everything we hold dear and sacred as Americans,” adding that the “full weight of our government is being deployed to conduct this investigation and bring those responsible to justice.
He said his administration is “extremely angry” about the incidents. “The full weight of our government is being deployed to conduct this investigation and bring those responsible for these despicable acts to justice.”
Later, at a rally in Mosinee, Wisconsin, Trump called for “peace and harmony” but said the media should “set a civil tone and to stop the endless hostility and constant negative and oftentimes false attacks and stories.”
ABC has confirmed that suspected explosive devices or suspicious packages include:
— A pipe bomb found Monday afternoon in the home mailbox of Soros in Westchester County north of New York City.
— A package addressed to Hillary Clinton containing an explosive device that was intercepted Tuesday night by the Secret Service at a screening facility before it reached her home, also in Westchester County. Former President Bill Clinton was home at the time. The package was discovered and screened away from the residence, a source said.
— A package with an explosive device that was addressed to former President Barack Obama at his Washington, D.C., home. It was intercepted Wednesday morning at a Secret Service mail-screening facility before it reached the residence.
— A package containing an explosive and suspicious powder was found Wednesday morning in the mailroom of the Time Warner Center in Manhattan where CNN is located. It was addressed to John Brennan, former director of the CIA. New York City police officers were present when the device was found.
— A suspicious package addressed to Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters of California that was intercepted by Capitol Hill police in Washington, D.C. FBI agents were also investigating a suspicious package addressed to Waters in south central Los Angeles, federal sources told ABC News. The package matches the description of others found in New York, Washington, D.C., and Florida, the sources said.
— A suspicious package containing an explosive device that was mailed to former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
All of the devices came in manila envelopes with bubble wrap interior and had the return address for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Florida, whose last name was misspelled on the packages, according to a statement released by the FBI. All of the envelopes were also affixed with computer-printed address labels and each had six Forever stamps, the FBI said.
The package addressed to Holder did not reach its intended destination and was returned to Wasserman Schultz’ address in Florida, the FBI said.
The devices found in New York, Washington and Florida are all similarly constructed, using digital clocks as a switch, a powder charge and a battery power source, law enforcement sources told ABC News. They were built using PVC pipe and contained possible enhancements to cause more potential harm.
“It is possible that additional packages were mailed to other locations. The FBI advises the public to remain vigilant and not touch, move or handle any suspicious or unknown packages,” the FBI statement reads.
The FBI, ATF agents, the New York Police Department and other law enforcement agencies are among those investigating the mailing of the devices around the country.
“We will not allow these terrorist thugs to change the way we live our lives,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
‘It is a troubling time,’ Hillary Clinton said
Hillary Clinton, speaking at a campaign event in Florida, said, “We are fine, thanks to the men and women of the Secret Service who intercepted the package addressed to us long before it reached our home.”
“But it is a troubling time, isn’t it?” Clinton said. “And it’s a time of deep divisions and we have to do everything we can to bring our country together.”
Security was tight around the event in Coral Gables where she spoke. People and cars were kept away from the perimeter of the building, and police had closed off surrounding streets.
The Clintons’ daughter, Chelsea, tweeted Wednesday, “Every day, I am grateful to the women and men of the United States Secret Service. Thank you.”
While speaking at the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, Brennan said he believes “we’re at a very unfortunate stage of our national history when we cannot have the civil discourse that we need about the future direction of our country and policies.”
High alert in New York
The device sent to CNN appeared to be a “live explosive,” New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill said.
The package containing the device sent to CNN also had in it a suspicious powder, said John Miller, NYPD deputy commissioner for intelligence and counterterrorism.
The package found in the CNN building appeared to be a metal pipe with wires, police sources told ABC News. Floors above and below the mailroom of Time Warner Center were evacuated.
Former NYPD chief of detectives Robert Boyce, who is now an ABC News contributor, said police are on high alert.
“They’re covering all the locations … They have the ability to do that. These are plans that we, the NYPD, goes through and does drills for,” Boyce said. “Right now the big thing is rendering the devices safe.”
The NYPD Intelligence, Counterterrorism and Bomb Squad teams told ABC News they were also increasing patrols at locations in New York City associated with the individuals who were purported targets of the other explosives — George Soros, Bill and Hillary Clinton, and Obama — and inspecting packages delivered to locations associated with those individuals.
New York police also said they are increasing patrols at the offices of other media.
‘Abundance of caution’
CNN anchor Jim Sciutto was on air at the time of the evacuation, and the channel’s news coverage was switched over to its offices in Washington D.C. Sciutto called in to the broadcast to say that he and hundreds of other CNN employees were standing outside, watching a “very fast-acting, quick response group” of NYPD officers responding to the scene.
CNN president Jeff Zucker sent a note to the company’s New York employees, saying the evacuation was ordered “out of an abundance of caution.”
“We are working with authorities to determine the severity of the situation,” Zucker wrote, adding that they are checking all bureaus “around the world, out of a complete abundance of caution.”
Responding agents from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives were on the scene in Columbus Circle as part of the investigation into the suspicious package sent to CNN. The ATF agents are working alongside the NYPD and other investigators on the scene. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is also involved in the investigation.
The Secret Service stressed that the two devices sent to Clinton or Obama did not reach them.
“The packages were immediately identified during routine mail screening procedures as potential explosive devices and were appropriately handled as such,” the Secret Service said in a statement.
Trump calls for unity
Trump also called on all Americans 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 said.
But some Democratic leaders pointed out that most of the people who were sent explosive have frequently been ridiculed by Trump.
“We listened with great interest to the president’s remarks this afternoon. We all take an oath to support and defend the Constitution and protect the American people, and that is our first responsibility. However, President Trump’s words ring hollow until he reverses his statements that condone acts of violence,” Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, and Sen. Chuck, the Senate minority leader, said in a joint statement released Wednesday afternoon.
“Time and time again, the president has condoned physical violence and divided Americans with his words and his actions: expressing support for the Congressman who body-slammed a reporter, the neo-Nazis who killed a young woman in Charlottesville, his supporters at rallies who get violent with protestors, dictators around the world who murder their own citizens, and referring to the free press as the enemy of the people.”
The president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., condemned the incidents as well, drawing on his family’s experience being the target of attempted attacks in the past.
“As someone whose family has directly been the victim of these mail threats I condemn whoever did this regardless of party or ideology. This crap has to stop and I hope they end up in jail for a long time,” Donald Trump Jr. wrote on Twitter.
The Department of Homeland Security has heightened security at all federal buildings around the country, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsenn said in a statement.
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