The U.S. Secret Service says it has intercepted two suspicious packages with “possible explosive devices,” one of them addressed to former President Barack Obama and the other to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who lost the 2016 national election to President Donald Trump.
Within hours, the Time Warner Center in New York, where news network CNN has studios, was evacuated Wednesday morning after a suspicious package was found in the mail room there. A device that was contained in an envelope was safely transported from the site in a special truck by the city’s police department bomb squad. CNN reports the package was addressed to former CIA Director John Brennan, a vehement critic of Trump who is now a commentator on MSNBC, a rival cable news broadcaster.
New York police officials said it appeared to be a live explosive device and the package it came in also contained a white powder. New York Mayor Bill de Blassio said "what we saw here today was clearly an act to terrorize" and stressed there were no other credible threats in New York city.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told reporters an explosive device was also sent to his office.
Clinton, Obama packages
The Secret Service says the package addressed to Clinton was discovered late Tuesday, intercepted at a mail screening facility near her home in a New York suburb where she lives with her husband, former President Bill Clinton.
Speaking on Wednesday, Hillary Clinton thanked the "men and women of the Secret Service who intercepted the package." She said her family is fine but noted it is a troubling time of deep divisions in the country.
A second package, according to the Secret Service, addressed to Obama was intercepted at a screening facility at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, a 365-hectare military facility in Washington, D.C.
An explosive device was found on Monday in a mail box outside the home in the state of New York of billionaire philanthropist George Soros, a major donor to Democratic candidates. Officials said the newly discovered devices appeared similar in construction.
“We condemn the attempted violent attacks recently made against President Obama, President Clinton, Secretary Clinton, and other public figures. These terrorizing acts are despicable, and anyone responsible will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders in a statement, adding that the Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies “are investigating and will take all appropriate actions to protect anyone threatened by these cowards.”
She later tweeted that President Trump and his administration are closely monitoring the situation.
"Our condemnation of these despicable acts certainly includes threats made to CNN as well as current or former public servants, she said.
Vice President Mike Pence, on Twitter, condemned “the attempted attacks” on Obama, the Clintons, CNN and others” and vowed “those responsible would be brought to justice.”
Trump tweeted that he "wholeheartedly" agreed with Pence's comments.
The Secret Service says the packages addressed to Obama and Hillary Clinton “were immediately identified during routine mail screening procedures as potential explosive devices and were appropriately handled as such. The protectees (Obama and the Clintons) did not receive the packages nor were they at risk of receiving them.”
The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) says it "is actively involved with our law enforcement partners in the investigations surrounding the suspicious devices intercepted en route to multiple locations."
"The FBI is working in coordination with our law enforcement partners to investigate the suspicious packages,” Kadia Koroma, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s Washington DC field office told VOA.
Former DNC chief also targeted
Late Wednesday morning, the police department in Sunrise, Florida, announced that it was investigating a suspicious package found near a building containing the local office of Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who formerly chaired the Democratic National Committee.
"FBI Miami is aware of a suspicious package that was mailed to Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz' office in Sunrise, FL," FBI Miami spokesman James Marshall said in a statement emailed to VOA.
Masood Farivar and Ken Bredemeier contributed to this report