Packages containing “potentially destructive devices” were sent to at least seven prominent Democrats this week, including billionaire philanthropist George Soros, former President Barack Obama, and Bill and Hillary Clinton, the FBI has confirmed.
On Monday, an explosive device was found in a mailbox at Soros’s home in Westchester, New York. Two days later, police and Secret Service agents found several more packages likely containing pipe bombs, including one at the Washington, DC, office of Obama and another near the home of Bill and Hillary Clinton in Chappaqua, New York.
CNN was evacuated Wednesday morning after a suspicious package containing what appeared to be a pipe bomb was sent to its Manhattan offices, according to federal and local law enforcement officials. The package was addressed to John Brennan, the CIA director under Obama.
Another suspicious package arrived at the Florida office of US Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), the former chair of the Democratic National Committee. According to the FBI, the package was intended for Eric Holder, the former Attorney General under Obama, but was misaddressed.
The FBI said these packages shared similarities. They were all sent in yellow manila envelopes lined with bubble wrap, included six “Forever” stamps, and listed the same return address of Schultz in Florida, though her name was misspelled.
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) said in a statement Wednesday that a suspicious package sent to her Washington, DC, office had been referred to the FBI. The FBI has not confirmed any connection, but said it was possible additional packages were mailed.
On Thursday, the actor Robert DeNiro, who has criticized Trump, was the latest to receive an explosive device: a package similar to the others was sent to his production company, and the New York Police Department found that it, too, contained a bomb, according to the New York Times.
No one has been injured by the bombs, but they’ve spurred a wave of concern about the possibility of political violence. Here’s what we know so far.
What we know
- Late Tuesday night, a suspicious package was discovered near the property of Bill and Hillary Clinton’s home in upstate New York by an employee who checks the Clintons’ incoming mail, according to the Secret Service.
- According to ABC News, law enforcement officials stated that the package contained a “potentially workable explosive device.”
- Early Wednesday morning, a suspicious package was sent to former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama in Washington, DC, but was intercepted by Secret Service, according to a statement from the agency.
- According to the Secret Service, the packages were discovered during routine screenings to be “potential explosive devices and were appropriately handled as such.”
- The New York Times reports that the devices were similar to the one found on Monday at the home of Soros in a New York City suburb. According to the Times, that device was “constructed from a length of pipe about six inches long filled with explosive powder, and it was ‘proactively detonated’ by bomb squad technicians.”
- NBC News obtained an image of one of the devices. FBI official Bryan Paarmann said at a press conference on Wednesday in New York that the devices appeared to be pipe bombs.
- White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the White House condemns the “attempted violent attacks” and called them “terrorizing acts” that are “despicable.”
- President Donald Trump, speaking at an event on opioids at the White House on Wednesday, said that the safety of the American people is his “highest and absolute priority.” He said it was a time to “unify,” adding that “acts of political violence of any kind have no place in the United States of America.” Trump, who was briefed on the incidents ahead of his remarks, said a “major federal investigation” is being conducted.
- Trump earlier said he “wholeheartedly” agrees with Vice President Mike Pence’s condemnation of the incidents.
- CNN’s New York office was also evacuated, with anchor Jim Sciutto tweeting that the police bomb squad was there and they’d been told of an explosive device being received. The NYPD responded and dispatched investigators to Columbus Circle in Manhattan, where CNN’s office at the Time Warner Center is located.
- The FBI confirmed that the package sent to CNN was addressed to former CIA Director John Brennan — who is a contributor for NBC and MSNBC, but not CNN.
- NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said at a press conference that the package sent to CNN contained what appeared to be “a live explosive device.” Investigators also discovered white powder inside the package found at CNN. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the incidents were an “effort to terrorize.”
- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo at the same conference said a package had been sent to his office in Manhattan. The NYPD later said it was unrelated, and there was no device.
- The FBI said a suspicious package went to Florida Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s office, but it was not intended for her. The New York Times and CNN have reported the package was sent to Eric Holder, the former US attorney general under Obama, but it was misaddressed and it ended up at Wasserman Schultz’s office, which was listed as the return address.
- Wasserman Schultz’s office in Florida was listed as the return address for all five packages, according to the FBI — though her name was incorrectly spelled as “SHULTZ” on the parcels.
- The FBI said all five packages were sent in yellow manila envelopes lined with bubble wrap and affixed with a printed label and six “Forever” stamps. The FBI will analyze the packages at its labs in Quantico, Virginia.
- FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement that this investigation was the “highest priority” for the bureau. “We have committed the full strength of the FBI’s resources and, together with our partners on our Joint Terrorism Task Forces, we will continue to work to identify and arrest whoever is responsible for sending these packages,” he said.
- Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) said that a suspicious package was sent to her, but was intercepted at a congressional mail processing facility and then turned over to the FBI, according to the New York Times. “I am appreciative of the law enforcement entities who intercepted the package and are investigating this matter,” Waters said in a statement. “I unequivocally condemn any and all acts of violence and terror.”
- Thursday morning, another suspicious package containing an explosive device was found at the production company of Robert DeNiro, who has criticized Trump, according to the New York Times.
What we don’t know
- The full list of who was sent packages.
- The identity of the sender or senders.
- Their motive(s).
- Details about the explosive devices themselves.
- Whether all of the incidents and devices are related.