Explosive devices addressed to the residences of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were intercepted, and the Time Warner Center that is home to CNN in New York City was evacuated after a suspicious package was sent there, officials said Wednesday morning.
Investigators are working to determine whether the two devices addressed to Clinton and Obama are linked to a pipe bomb found earlier this week in the home mailbox of billionaire George Soros, near where the Clintons live in Chappaqua, New York, multiple law enforcement officials reported.
All three devices are of similar pipe-bomb-style construction.
The New York Police Department bomb squad was responding to the suspicious package inside the mail room of the Time Warner Center in Manhattan’s Columbus Circle.
Authorities said the package appears to be a metal pipe with wires. Floors above and below the mail room were evacuated.
CNN anchor Jim Sciutto was on air at the time of the evacuation, and the channel’s news coverage was switched over to its offices in Washington D.C. Sciutto called in to the broadcast to say that he and hundreds of other CNN employees were standing outside, watching a “very fast-acting, quick response group” of NYPD officers responding to the scene.
Responding agents from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives were also on the scene in Columbus Circle as part of the investigation into the suspicious package sent to CNN. The ATF agents are working alongside the NYPD and other investigators on the scene. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is also involved in the investigation.
CNN president Jeff Zucker sent a note to the company’s New York employees, saying the evacuation was ordered “out of an abundance of caution.”
“We are working with authorities to determine the severity of the situation,” Zucker wrote, adding that they are checking all bureaus “around the world, out of a complete abundance of caution.”
The NYPD Intelligence, Counterterrorism and Bomb Squad teams told ABC News they were also increasing patrols at locations in New York City associated with the individuals who were purported targets of the other explosives — George Soros, Bill and Hillary Clinton, and Obama — and inspecting packages delivered to locations associated with those individuals.
New York police also said they are increasing patrols at the offices of other media. Former President Bill Clinton was at home at the time the package addressed to Hillary Clinton was intercepted, according to a source familiar with the situation. The package was discovered and screened away from the residence, the source said.
The Secret Service stressed that the packages sent to Clinton or Obama did not reach them.
“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.
One of the suspicious packages was intercepted at the Secret Service’s mail-screeing facility at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in the Washington, D.C. area, officials said.
The Obamas live in Washington, D.C., and Bill and Hillary Clinton in Westchester County, north of New York City.
Hillary Clinton was scheduled to speak at a campaign event in Coral Gables, Florida at midday Wednesday, where security appeared to be tight.
People and cars were being kept away from the perimeter of the building where she is to speak, and police have closed off surrounding streets.
President Trump has been briefed on the suspicious packages sent to the Clinton and Obama homes and the White House has now issued a statement forcefully condemning the “attempted violent attacks.”
“We condemn the attempted violent attacks recently made against President Obama, President Clinton, Secretary Clinton, and other public figures,” Sarah Sanders says in a statement. “These terrorizing acts are despicable, and anyone responsible will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
Vice President Mike Pence also condemned the “despicable” acts.
James E Windsor, Overpasses News Desk
October 24th, 2018