With a massive, nation-wide manhunt underway, U.S. President Donald Trump condemned the series of attempted attacks on high-profile Democrats and CNN on Wednesday, declaring that “acts or threats of political violence have no place in the United States.”
Attempting a bipartisan pause during a divisive campaign season, Trump called for unity after crude pipe bombs targeting Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, CNN and others were intercepted Tuesday and Wednesday. Trump called the suspicious packages “despicable” and said a “major federal investigation” was underway, but did not specifically mention the media.
Coming just 13 days before the midterm elections, the attempted attacks underscored the deeply divided moment in American politics. The packages were directed at prominent Democrats and a cable network that have been singled out and criticized by Trump. At his rallies and on Twitter, Trump has frequently lambasted Clinton, Obama, CNN and others, often with menacing undertones.
CNN's offices in Manhattan were evacuated because of a suspicious package that law enforcement officials later said was a pipe bomb.
The news network reported on Wednesday morning that a police bomb squad was at its offices after a package arrived addressed to Trump critic and former CIA Director John Brennan triggered alarm.
Minutes earlier, U.S. Secret Service agents said they had intercepted packages containing "possible explosive devices" addressed to former President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
NYPD later addressed the incident in a press conference Wednesday saying that it "identified a device that appeared to be a live explosive device." In addition, NYPD said it found "an envelope that contained white powder," which the police is investigating. NYPD also said it will increase its police presence.
Federal authorities are investigating suspicious packages sent Obama and Clinton, the U.S. Secret Service and a person familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.
Trump initially condemned the incidents by retweeting Vice President Mike Pence, writing, "I agree wholeheartedly!" Ivanka Trump also condemned the incidents on Twitter.
False information also circulated that a suspicious package addressed to the White House was intercepted at an off-site facility.
The suspicious packages sent to the two top Democrats as well as a bomb sent to one of their major donors came roughly two weeks ahead of the high-stakes Nov. 6 election that will determine whether Republicans maintain control of Congress in a nation that has become deeply polarized.
The package to Clinton was found late Tuesday while the one addressed to Obama was found early Wednesday, both during routine mail screenings, the Secret Service said. Both Obama and Clinton were not at risk, they added.
The White House, in a statement, condemned the attempted attacks on Obama and Clinton.
“These terrorizing acts are despicable, and anyone responsible will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law," White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said. "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."
The FBI said it was investigating the packages.
"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.
The package addressed to Clinton at her home in the New York suburb of Chappaqua was an explosive device, the New York Times reported.
The discovery of the packages came after a small bomb was found earlier this week at the home of billionaire liberal donor George Soros in the New York City suburb of Katonah, about 10 miles from the Clintons' home.
"Nothing made it to their home," Bill Clinton's spokesman said in an email. A spokesman for Hillary Clinton referred queries to the Secret Service statement.
A spokeswoman for the Obamas declined to comment.
Chappaqua police said authorities in New Castle assisted the FBI, the Secret Service and Westchester County police with the investigation into the package sent to Clinton.
"The matter is currently under federal investigation," the police said in a statement, referring questions to the FBI.
The device sent to Clinton was similar to the one found on Monday at Soros' home, the Times reported, citing a law enforcement official.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now