The Secret Service said Wednesday that it had intercepted packages containing “potential explosive devices” addressed to former secretary of state Hillary Clinton in New York and former president Barack Obama in Washington.
The devices were recovered not long after an explosive device was found in a mailbox at the Bedford, New York, home of George Soros, the liberal philanthropist who is a frequent target of criticism from far-right groups.
“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 Wednesday. “The protectees did not receive the packages nor were they at risk of receiving them.”
The Secret Service said the package addressed to the Chappaqua, New York, home of Clinton and former president Bill Clinton was recovered late Tuesday. The package sent to Obama’s Washington home was intercepted early Wednesday, authorities said.
Both packages were intercepted by Secret Service personnel working at off-site facilities near their homes in New York and in Washington, according to a person familiar with their work. All mail and packages addressed to former presidents and their immediate family are pre-sorted and screened by Secret Service personnel.
An Obama representative referred questions to the Secret Service. Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said the package was “not in proximity to their residence” and also deferred other questions to the agency.
CNN’s headquarters at the Time Warner Center in New York were also evacuated Wednesday morning due to a suspicious package found there. The network broadcast footage of its staffers outside on the Manhattan streets below, where anchor Jim Sciutto could be seen on a cellphone reporting that he was told a suspicious package was mailed to the CNN building.
Jeff Zucker, president of CNN, wrote in a letter to employees that the center was “evacuated out of an abundance of caution” after the package was found in the mailroom. The New York police said its officers were “investigating a suspicious package in Columbus Circle,” which is where the Time Warner Center is located.
The devices sent to Clinton and Obama are suspected to be the work of the same person who sent a similar device to Soros earlier this week, according to two law enforcement officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation. Soros, an 88-year-old holocaust survivor, has funneled much of his fortune into liberal projects around the world, making him a frequent target of rhetoric on the right.
Based on the timing and the material, law enforcement officials suspect the same person is behind all three devices, and officials are scrambling to determine if any other such devices were sent to anyone.
The New York police said they were investigating the suspicious package at CNN and working with federal partners involved in the investigations into what was sent to Obama, Clinton, Soros and the news network, according to a police official. As part of that, New York police were increasing patrols at areas linked to those three people and inspecting packages sent to locations tied to them. The police were also increasing patrols at high-profile areas, including media locations, in New York City.
The White House and other figures across Washington decried the explosive devices.
“We condemn the attempted violent attacks recently made against President Obama, President Clinton, Secretary Clinton, and other public figures,” Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, said in a statement Wednesday morning. “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.”
Suspicious letters and packages have been sent to the president’s children, including Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, and Eric Trump. On Wednesday, Trump Jr. tweeted: “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.”
A letter was sent to Trump Jr.’s home earlier this year that resulted in his wife going to the hospital. A man later pleaded guilty to sending threatening letters with white powder to Trump’s sons and other public figures.
Washington Post writers Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker contributed to this report.
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