Suspicious explosives sent to Obama, Clinton, CNN
Suspected explosive devices were sent to former US President Barack Obama, defeated presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and to a building housing CNN’s New York bureau less than 24 hours apart and less than two weeks before key US midterm elections, officials confirmed yesterday.
The targeted Democrats are among the most high-profile political figures in the United States, which goes to the polls on November 6 in elections seen as a referendum on Republican President Donald Trump.
CNN has distinguished itself in the last two years for its aggressive coverage of the Trump administration and robust criticism of the Republican, who replaced Obama and defeated Clinton in the 2016 election.
The Secret Service recovered a package addressed to Clinton in Westchester, a suburb north of Manhattan on Tuesday, and a second package addressed to the Obama residence in Washington yesterday.
CNN evacuated its New York bureau yesterday after a suspicious device, which police described as a metal pipe with wires, was found in the mailroom of the Time Warner Center.
The White House swiftly condemned what it called “despicable” acts targeting the two Democrat luminaries. “These terrorizing acts are despicable, and anyone responsible will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” said Press Secretary Sarah Sanders.
“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 precise contents of the suspicious packages sent to Clinton and Obama were not immediately clear. There has been no claim of responsibility and no one was yet thought to have been arrested.
The Secret Service said the packages were “immediately identified during routine mail screening procedures as potential explosive devices and were appropriately handled as such.”
“The protectees did not receive the packages nor were they at risk of receiving them,” the Secret Service added.
New York police confirmed that its officers had been called to the Time Warner Center, where the CNN bureau in the US financial capital is located, to investigate reports of a suspicious package.
Police later identified the CNN package as a “suspicious device described as a metal pipe with wires,” and confirmed that its emergency service unit and bomb squad were on the scene, in a crowded part of Midtown Manhattan.
The Secret Service, which provides protection to current and former US presidents and their families said it had initiated a “full scope criminal investigation.”
The investigation would “leverage all available federal, state, and local resources” to determine the source of the packages and identify those responsible, it said.
The incidents come just days after an explosive device was found in the mailbox at the New York home of US billionaire and liberal donor George Soros, a target of right-wing groups.