Explosive devices sent to Obama, Clintons as CNN evacuated over suspicious package
ABC News(NEW YORK) — Explosive devices addressed to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were intercepted, and the Time Warner Center that is home to CNN in New York City was evacuated after a suspicious package was sent there, officials said Wednesday morning.
Investigators are working to determine whether the two devices addressed to Clinton and Obama are linked to a pipe bomb found Monday in the home mailbox of billionaire George Soros, near where the Clintons live in Chappaqua, New York, multiple law enforcement officials told ABC News.
The preliminary belief is that all three devices are of similar pipe-bomb-style construction.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo also said Wednesday that a suspicious package was sent to his Manhattan office.
And, police in Sunrise, Florida, meanwhile tweeted Wednesday that they were investigating a suspicious package at a building where Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schulz, a former Democratic National Committee chairperson, has an office. The building was evacuated, police said.
The spate of suspicious devices began Monday afternoon of a pipe bomb in the home mailbox of billionaire philanthropist George Soros in suburban New York.
The next day, late on Tuesday, another explosive device that was addressed to Hillary Clinton was intercepted before it reached her home in a town near where Soros lives.
Another explosive device addressed to former President Obama was intercepted early Wednesday morning. And a fourth suspicious package was discovered in the mail room of CNN’s building in New York. It was addressed to former CIA Director John Brennan.
‘It is a troubling time,’ Hillary Clinton said
Former President Bill Clinton was at home at the time the package addressed to his wife was intercepted, according to a source. The package was discovered and screened away from the residence, the source 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.”
High alert in New York
The device sent to see 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.
Police sources also told ABC News that the package found in the CNN building appears to be a metal pipe with wires. Floors above and below the mail room 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.
At least 1 package had fake return address
Sources told ABC News that at least one of the suspicious packages had the return address of Wasserman Schultz in Florida.
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.
One of the suspicious devices was intercepted at the Secret Service’s mail-screening facility at in the Washington, D.C. area, officials said.
The Obamas live in Washington, D.C., and Bill and Hillary Clinton in the town of Chappaqua in Westchester County, north of New York City.
Trump condemns acts
President Trump has been briefed on the suspicious packages sent to the Clinton and Obama homes and the White House has now issued a statement forcefully condemning the “attempted violent attacks.”
“We condemn the attempted violent attacks recently made against President Obama, President Clinton, Secretary Clinton, and other public figures,” Sarah Sanders says in a statement. “These terrorizing acts are despicable, and anyone responsible will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
Vice President Mike Pence also condemned the “despicable” acts.
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.
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