Reporter focuses on national security and law enforcement
Devlin Barrett Reporter focuses on national security and law enforcement October 24 at. 11:21 The secret service said Wednesday that…
The secret service said Wednesday that it had intercepted packages containing “potentially explosive devices” addressed to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in New York and former President Barack Obama in Washington, while the authorities also rushed to investigate a suspicious package sent to CNN headquarters.
The packages were not discovered long after an explosive device was found in a mailbox at Bedford, NY, home of George Soros, the liberal philanthropist who is a frequent target for criticism from right-wing groups. The device sent to Clinton and Obama was found during screening and did not make it to them, officials said.
“Packages were identified immediately under routine mail screening procedures as potentially explosive devices and properly managed as such.” The service said in a statement Wednesday. “The protection recipients did not receive the package or risk receiving them.”
The secret service said the package addressed to Chappaqua, N.Y., Clinton’s home and former president Bill Clinton was recovered late Tuesday. The package sent to Obama’s Washington home was canceled early Wednesday, the authorities said.
Both packages were intercepted by secret service personnel who worked at off-site facilities near their homes in New York and Washington, according to a person familiar with their work. All mail and packages addressed to former presidents and their immediate family are ordered and screened by Secret Service staff.
An Obama representative referred questions to secret service. Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said the package was “not near to his place of residence” and also put other questions to the agency.
The device sent to Clinton and Obama is suspected to be the same person who sent a similar device to Soros earlier this week, according to two law enforcement officials who spoke on terms of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation. Soros, a 88-year-old survivor, has taken much of his wealth for liberal projects around the world. He is a common goal for rhetoric to the right.
Due to the timing and material, law enforcement officers suspect that the same person is behind all three units, and officials encrypt to determine if any other such equipment was sent to anyone.
The device sent to Clinton, Obama and Soros was all pipe bombs placed in plain manila brown envelopes with the addresses written on stickers, according to a law enforcement official. The address of the package is a famous public official, but the authorities do not think the person is involved, the police said.
The official said the three units seemed to explode and cause damage. The authorities shed the mailboxes to public officials throughout the government and urge anyone who receives a suspicious package to contact law enforcement, said the official.
CNN headquarters at Time Warner Center in New York were also evacuated Wednesday morning due to a suspicious package found there. The network broadcasts photos of its employees outside the Manhattan streets below, where anchor Jim Sciutto could be seen on a mobile report as he was told that a suspicious package was sent to the CNN building.
Jeff Zucker, CNN’s president, wrote in a letter to employees that the center was “evacuated with an abundance of caution” after the package was found in the mail room. He also told employees that CNN had checked in to their other agencies but found no other devices.
Police Department in New York said the officers “investigated a suspicious package in Columbus Circle”, where the Time Warner Center is located. NYPD investigated the suspicious package on the network and collaborated with federal partners on investigations into what was sent to Obama, Clinton, Soros and CNN, according to a police officer. As part of this, the NYPD patrols increased in areas associated with the three persons and inspected packages sent to sites that were linked to them. Police also increase patrols in high-profile areas, including media sites, in New York City.
As investigators continued to investigate the units and their origins, White House officials and others in Washington refused. ] “We condemn the attempted violent attacks recently made against President Obama, President Clinton, Secretary Clinton and other public figures,” said Sarah Sanders, the White House’s press secretary, in a statement Wednesday morning. “These terrorist acts are despicable and a responsible person will be held responsible for the full extent of the law. The United States secret service and other law enforcement agencies will investigate and will take all appropriate measures to protect those threatened by these eyes.”
Chelsea Clinton published on Twitter : “Every day, I am grateful for women and men in the secret service of the United States. Thank you.”
Suspected letters and parcels have been sent to many public figures including President Trumps children. Donald Trump Jr., President’s Elder Son, tweeted : “As a person whose family has been directly exposed to these posthumously, I condemn anyone who did it regardless of party or ideology. This shit must end and I hope they end up in prison for a long time. “
A letter was sent to Trump Jr.’s home earlier this year, which resulted in his wife going to the hospital. A man later prosecuted to send threatening letters with white powder to Trump’s sons and other public figures.
Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker contributed to this story, which will be updated.