Mail bombs target Obama, Clinton, other Democrats

Posted at 8:26 AM, Oct 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-24 20:09:29-04

By RNN Staff 

(RNN) - President Donald Trump called on the country to “unify” and “come together” on a day some of the country’s most notable Democrats reported receiving pipe bombs in the mail.

The mailings were addressed to a Who’s Who of the party, including former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, former first lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Attorney General Eric Holder, former CIA Director John Brennan and Rep. Maxine Waters of California.

The package intended for Brennan was sent to the Time Warner Center, the home of CNN in New York, prompting an hours-long evacuation of the 55-story twin-tower building and forcing CNN staff onto the streets of Manhattan.

New York officials called it an act of terror. The FBI has launched an investigation to discover who’s responsible.

At a White House news conference originally scheduled to talk about the opioid crisis, Trump said the "egregious conduct is against everything we hold dear as Americans” and that no expense nor resource will be spared in the FBI investigation to bring whomever is "responsible for these despicable acts to justice.”

“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 said.

First lady Melania Trump opened the news conference by condemning the attempted bombings with the president by her side.

“We cannot tolerate those attacks and I strongly condemn all who choose violence. I’m grateful to the Secret Service as well as the local and federal law enforcement for all they do on a daily basis to keep us safe and encourage people across the country to choose kindness over hatred,” she said.

Earlier, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the Trump administration condemns the attempted attacks against Clinton, Obama and other public figures, calling the offenders cowards.

“These terrorizing acts are despicable, and anyone responsible will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” she said.

Jeff Zucker, the president of CNN Worldwide, lashed back at President Trump with his own statement Wednesday afternoon, saying: “There is a total and complete lack of understanding at the White House about the seriousness of their continued attacks on the media. The President, and especially the White House Press Secretary, should understand their words matter. Thus far, they have shown no comprehension of that.”

During a news conference, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo encouraged New Yorkers to stay strong.

“We will not allow these terrorist thugs to change the way we live our lives,” Cuomo said in a news conference outside CNN headquarters. “They fail unless we allow them to win.”

The devices are described as pipe bombs, and officials believe most or all of them are from the same person or group. All of the explosives have been removed by law enforcement specialists and taken to labs for inspection.

The building where Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s office is located in Sunrise, FL, was evacuated when one of the mail bombs arrived there. The package had been sent to former Attorney General Eric Holder, but the address was wrong. It came to Wasserman Schultz because the mailer used her address as the return address on the package.

Wasserman Schultz was the chair of the Democratic National Committee until 2016, resigning just before the convention where Hillary Clinton received the Democratic nomination for president.

Later in the day, a second suspicious package arrived in South Florida at the building that houses the Wasserman Schultz district office in Aventura, about 20 miles southeast of her Sunrise office. Police cleared out the building and later determined the package wasn’t a threat.

The multitude of packages have put law enforcement and potential targets on alert. The San Diego Union Tribune building, which houses Sen. Kamala Harris' office, was evacuated Wednesday because of a suspicious package, but the suspicious item was found to be not dangerous.

Hillary Clinton noted the developments in remarks at a campaign event for Donna Shalala in Florida on Wednesday.

“Suspicious packages are being sent to various public figures and a news organization. Many of you have asked after me and my family, and I am grateful for that. We are fine, thanks to the men and women of the Secret Service who intercepted the package addressed to us long before it made its way to our home. We are grateful for their service, never more than today. It is a troubling time.”

The Secret Service clarified that no suspicious package addressed to the White House had been discovered, refuting earlier news reports.

While CNN initially reported on the bombs Wednesday, another suspicious device was found in the mail room at the Time Warner Center in New York, where the cable network has offices. The alarm system started going off while the New York news anchors were on the air. They were evacuated from the building.

The bomb was safely removed from the Time Warner Center and was transported to be looked at by bomb technicians, said FBI Agent in Charge Bryan Paarman.

He said “some kind of powder” also was found in the package with the device.

“The mail room is still being contained while we are testing that,” Paarman said.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio thanked first responders and CNN for their professionalism, and said there was no specific threat to any specific place. He told New Yorkers to expect more police presence, particularly around media buildings.

“Clearly it is an act of terror attempting to undermine our free press through acts of violence,” de Blasio said, adding the people of New York will be “undeterred.”

He described this as a painful time with some trying “to tear us apart ... It is imperative that we make sure they fail.”

Cuomo echoed the mayor’s remarks, saying: “Terrorism, the attempt to spread fear, is the world we live in.” He noted that terrorism is nothing new, as the first attack on the World Trade Center happened 25 years ago.

The package sent to CNN was addressed to John Brennan, former CIA director under Obama. Earlier this summer, President Donald Trump revoked Brennan’s security clearance, saying Brennan’s behavior was “erratic.”

Brennan is an outspoken critic of Trump, even penning an op-ed against Trump’s claim that the Russians did not meddle in the 2016 elections.

The Secret Service said the device addressed to Hillary Clinton was discovered late Tuesday. The New Castle, NY, police said in a statement they had assisted the FBI, Secret Service, and the Westchester County police with the investigation of the suspicious package.

The agency confirmed that it had intercepted suspicious packages received overnight to two of its “protectees,” the Clintons and the Obamas. The suspicious package sent to the Obama residence was intercepted early Wednesday.

“The packages were immediately identified during routine mail screening procedures as potential explosive devices and were appropriately handled as such,” said the Secret Service in a statement. “The protectees did not receive the packages, nor were they at risk of receiving them.”

The agency added it has started a full criminal investigation.

Officials tell The New York Times that the devices sent to the Clintons and Obamas were similar to one sent earlier this week to liberal philanthropist George Soros.

An explosive device was discovered around 3 p.m. Monday outside Soros' Katonah, NY, compound. Officials said the device resembled a pipe bomb and was inside a package in the mailbox.

An employee at the Soros compound opened the package and discovered the device. They then placed the package in a wooded area and alerted authorities. Investigators are looking at surveillance video to determine how the package was delivered, whether through the mail or other means.

Both Soros and the Clintons have been the subject of right-wing conspiracy theories, including multiple falsehoods from President Trump.

Earlier this month, Trump repeated an evidence-free accusation against his former presidential rival, accusing her of colluding with Russia in the 2016 election.

At a campaign rally in Erie, PA, Trump said, “There was collusion between Hillary, the Democrats and Russia. There was a lot of collusion with them and Russia and lots of other people.”

Trump tweeted a baseless claim Oct. 5 that stated protesters at the Capitol during the Brett Kavanaugh hearings were paid for by Soros.

On Oct. 3, the FBI arrested a Navy veteran in Logan, UT, who is accused of sending two envelopes containing ricin to the Pentagon, and another to the White House. One envelope was addressed to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and another to the chief of the U.S. Navy, Adm. John Richardson.

The third envelope was addressed to Trump. No one was injured, according to the Secret Service.

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