Suspected mail bombs sent to Clinton, Obama, CNN building and others intercepted
The Secret Service said Wednesday "potential explosive devices" addressed to former President Barack Obama and ex-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton have been intercepted, and New York police evacuated the Time Warner Center to investigate another suspicious package.
Those Democrats were not the only ones targeted. Media reports also said the office of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida was evacuated after a suspicious package was found. A spokeswoman for Sen. Kamala Harris of California said her office was evacuated after "suspicious packages" were found "near the building." And California Rep. Maxine Waters said her office in Washington, D.C., was also "the target" of a suspicious package.
"We have now confirmed two additional packages, both addressed to Rep. Maxine Waters, that are similar in appearance to the other packages," the FBI said late Thursday.
Two days earlier, an explosive device was found at the home of politically active billionaire George Soros, a pariah to the right wing. Soros' home in Bedford, New York, is a few miles from the Clintons' residence.
NBC reported that the devices addressed to Obama, Clinton and Soros share a number of characteristics. The packaging in which they were sent was almost exactly the same, and they each had a return address belonging to a former Democratic party official, according to NBC.
Three senior law enforcement officials with direct knowledge told NBC that the devices were made from PVC pipe and contained a timer to set off a detonator. The devices also contained powder from fireworks and X-ray analysis showed that there was likely shrapnel inside the pipe, the officials told NBC.
Multiple senior bomb technicians briefed on the case told NBC that the devices had all the components necessary to set off successful explosions.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement that the Trump administration condemns the "terrorizing acts" against Obama, the Clintons and "other public figures."
"We condemn the attempted violent attacks recently made against President Obama, President Clinton, Secretary Clinton, and other public figures," Sanders said. "These terrorizing acts are despicable, and anyone responsible will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. The United States Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies are investigating and will take all appropriate actions to protect anyone threatened by these cowards."
President Donald Trump said he agrees "wholeheartedly" with Vice President Mike Pence's statement condemning the "attempted attacks."
Other influential Democrats are taking precautions on the heels of the reports. Kevin Mack, senior advisor for billionaire and potential Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer, told CNBC "they have a security team sweeping through his offices and home as a precaution. They are doing their job to make everyone safe. We take everything seriously."
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during a press conference Wednesday that a suspicious device was sent to his Manhattan office, but law enforcement officials from the FBI, NYPD, Secret Service and New York State Troopers did not confirm the governor's remark.
Cuomo, a prominent Democrat and Trump critic, is currently running for reelection. A NYPD spokesman said later in the day that the package sent to Cuomo was not a bomb, and was unrelated to the other devices, according to the Associated Press.
In a statement, Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi said that a "preliminary investigation on the package at Governor Cuomo's office shows it is computer files on the hate group, The Proud Boys, who recently appeared in New York."
Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said in a tweet that "nothing" sent to Clinton "got to any home."
The Secret Service said the package addressed to Obama was intercepted by agency personnel in Washington on Wednesday morning.
"The packages were immediately identified during routine mail screening procedures as potential explosive devices and were appropriately handled as such. Both packages were intercepted prior to being delivered to their intended location. The protectees did not receive the packages nor were they at risk of receiving them," the agency said.
A short time later, NBC reported that New York police had been called to the Time Warner Center in midtown Manhattan to investigate another suspicious package.
The headquarters of CNN, which is frequently criticized by Trump, are located in the Time Warner Center. In a memo sent to CNN employees, the news outlet's president, Jeff Zucker, said to "remain calm and patient."
CNN reported that the package found at the Time Warner Center was addressed to former CIA Director John Brennan in care of CNN. Brennan, who served during the Obama administration, has become a virulent critic of Trump and has excoriated the president on television as a contributor to MSNBC, a sister news network to CNBC. Trump stripped him of his federal security clearance in August.
The Secret Service said that reports of a suspicious package addressed to the White House are "incorrect."
Later on Wednesday, Harris spokeswoman Lily Adams said in a tweet that the San Diego Police Department was investigating "suspicious packages" that led to an evacuation of the senator's office.
Our office was evacuated today after suspicious packages were found near the building. The packages were not addressed to the Senator or our office. We are grateful to the San Diego Police Department for their work to swiftly investigate this issue.
NBC, citing local police, reported that an item in question was not addressed to Harris or her office, and was determined not to be a device of any kind.
Wasserman Schultz was the former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee before running for Congress.
She resigned that DNC position after her e-mails were hacked during the 2016 presidential campaign.
"I have been in direct contact with the FBI and other law enforcement officials who are working tirelessly on this investigation, and I am grateful for their efforts to keep us safe," Wasserman Schultz said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.
"We will not be intimidated by this attempted act of violence. This appalling attack on our democracy must be vigorously prosecuted, and I am deeply disturbed by the way my name was used. Today, my staff and I will hug each other and our loved ones tightly, and tomorrow get back to work serving the people I was elected to represent," Wasserman Schultz added.
Waters, an especially vocal critic of Trump who has repeatedly called for his impeachment, said in her own statement: "I have been informed by U.S. Capitol Police that my Washington, DC office was the target of a suspicious package that has been referred to the FBI."
"I am appreciative of the law enforcement entities who intercepted the package and are investigating this matter. I unequivocally condemn any and all acts of violence and terror," Waters said.
New Castle Police Lt. James Carroll told CNBC his department has assisted the FBI and U.S. Secret Service in investigating the package sent to the nearby home of the Clintons. It was discovered Tuesday night.
In a tweet Wednesday morning, the New York branch of the FBI acknowledged the existence of the package sent to the Clintons, but said it would decline further comment on the ongoing investigation.
We are aware of a suspicious package found in the vicinity of the Clinton residence in Chappaqua, NY, and our JTTF has engaged with our federal, state and local partners to investigate. As this is an on-going investigation, we will have no further comment at this time
A spokeswoman for Obama declined to comment and referred CNBC to the Secret Service. Clinton representatives did not immediately respond to CNBC's requests for further comment.
Hillary Clinton is currently in Florida to attend a fundraising event, NBC reported. Bill Clinton was at the New York home.
Senior Republican lawmakers were quick to condemn the actions against their political opponents.