City and federal law enforcement officials are investigating after an explosive device was sent to CNN's Manhattan offices Wednesday, following similar discoveries at the homes of former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton and other prominent liberal public figures.
AN EXPLOSIVE DEVICE SENT TO CNN
The suspicious device that prompted the evacuation of the Time Warner Center in Manhattan Wednesday morning was removed by the New York City Police Department's Bomb Squad.
Senior law enforcement sources told NY1 that the device found at CNN's headquarters involved a pipe with wires and black electrical tape. The FBI said the package was addressed to former CIA Director John Brennan, who has publicly clashed with President Donald Trump and is a regular television contributor.
That device was driven out of Columbus Circle to the police firing range in the Bronx, where bombs are often disassembled or blown up in a controlled environment.
As of this writing, no arrests or details on a possible suspect or motive have been announced in the case.
No injuries were reported; none of the bombs detonated Wednesday as law enforcement took them away for examination and disposal.
The Time Warner Center was evacuated as the investigation was ongoing. Employees began to go back inside shortly before 3:30 p.m.
Mayor Bill de Blasio called Wednesday's events "an act of terror" and that New Yorkers will not be intimidated.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo echoed the mayor, saying, "We will not allow these terrorist thugs to change the way we live our lives."
City officials said they would step up security outside the Time Warner Center and other high-profile locations, including the offices of media outlets.
Police Commissioner James O'Neill said Wednesday evening that investigators are reviewing security video to see if they can identify a courier believed to have delivered the pipe bomb package to CNN's office.
MULTIPLE PACKAGES SENT TO PROMINENT DEMOCRATS
The evacuation at the Time Warner Center came after suspicious packages were intercepted at the Washington home of former President Barack Obama and the Westchester home of Bill and Hillary Clinton, 35 miles north of Manhattan.
Police in Westchester said the device found at the Clintons' home was discovered late Tuesday night. Sources tell NY1 that the package, described as an IED, was discovered around 1 a.m. during a routine mail screening.
The Secret Service said a similar package addressed to the residence of Obama was also "intercepted by Secret Service personnel in Washington, DC" early Wednesday morning.
Neither Clinton nor Obama received the packages sent to them, and neither was at risk because of screening procedures, the Secret Service said. Hillary Clinton was attending campaign events for Democrats in Florida and was not at the family's New York residence when the bomb was intercepted. But Bill Clinton was at the family's Chappaqua home, said a person familiar with his schedule. The person said the device was screened at a Westchester County facility — not near their residence — and never reached the Clintons' home.
This comes just days after a bomb was discovered outside the Westchester home of George Soros, a liberal billionaire and major contributor to Democratic causes who is often made into a boogeyman by figures on the right. That explosive was detonated by a bomb squad, and no one was hurt.
A law enforcement official told the AP that the package discovered at Soros's home appeared to be a pipe bomb and was in a package placed in a mailbox outside the gates of the compound. A Soros employee opened it just inside the gates, not near Soros's quarters, said the official, who insisted on anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.
Another package was addressed to former attorney general Eric Holder. The FBI said that package did not reach its intended destination and was rerouted to the return address on the envelope in Florida.
The FBI said the five packages containing explosives targeting Hillary Clinton, Obama, CNN, and others were being analyzed at the bureau's lab in Virginia.
Law enforcement officials said all the packages were similar: manila envelopes with bubble-wrap interior bearing six stamps and the return address of Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. She is the former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee who was accused by Clinton rivals of secretly helping the party's eventual presidential nominee. The FBI said each package had a return address of "DEBBIE WASSERMAN SHULTZ," a misspelling of the Florida congresswoman's name. The FBI confirmed all of the packages had printed address labels and six stamps. Officials provided no details on a possible suspect or motive.
The FBI and Secret Service are investigating. No arrests have been made as of this writing. Officials provided no details on a possible suspect or motive.
The FBI has advised the public to remain vigilant and reminded people not to touch any suspicious or unknown packages.
Later Wednesday, the FBI confirmed that two additional suspicious packages were addressed to Rep. Maxine Waters and were similar to the five other packages sent to Soros, CNN, Obama, the Clintons, and Holder.
One of those packages addressed to Waters had markings and characteristics similar to the others and was intercepted at a Los Angeles mail facility. Earlier in the day, the congresswoman said her Washington office was the target of a suspicious package. The president has previously denigrated Waters as a "low-IQ individual."
As of this writing, law enforcement officials have not confirmed if the packages addressed to Waters contained explosive devices.
No injuries have been reported. None of the packages detonated Wednesday.
A law enforcement official said Wednesday night that the five pipe bombs that were sent to several prominent Democrats and CNN were packed with powder and shards of glass.
The official said those devices were made from PVC pipe that was about six inches long and covered with black tape.
The official said each device also had a small battery, similar to a watch battery. The official didn't say whether the powder was explosive.
The official, who viewed X-ray images of the device, wasn't authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
It's not confirmed if the devices were built to actually explode, however, or how powerful they would have been if they detonated.
A FALSE ALARM AT THE GOVERNOR'S MANHATTAN OFFICE
Cuomo said at the press conference that a package was also sent to his Manhattan office, but the NYPD later confirmed it was just a flash drive.
Rich Azzopardi, the governor's senior director of communications, said the package contained "computer files on the hate group, The Proud Boys." Authorities say members of that group were involved in a fight outside a Republican club in Manhattan earlier this month.
TRUMP CALLS FOR UNITY — THEN FIRES BACK AT THE MEDIA
President Donald Trump initially only quote-tweeted a response from Vice President Mike Pence condemning the suspicious devices in the morning:
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders echoed the tweets adding, "This is an ongoing situation that President Trump and his admin are monitoring closely. Our condemnation of these despicable acts certainly includes threats made to CNN as well as current or former public servants. These cowardly acts are unacceptable and won't be tolerated."
Trump later called for national unity at a press conference at the White House, saying, "acts or threats of political violence have no place in the United States."
But that tone changed during a rally with supporters in Wisconsin in the evening. He said those "engaged in the political arena" must "stop threatening political opponents as being morally defective," possibly a reference to critics calling him and his supporters "deplorable."
Trump then, hours after CNN was targeted, called out he media: "As part of a larger national effort to bridge our divides and bring people together, the media also has a responsibility to set a civil tone and to stop the endless hostility and constant negative and oftentimes false attacks and stories. Have to do it, have to do it," Trump said to cheering supporters.
Other Republican leaders condemned the terrorist threats. But Democratic Senate and House leaders Chuck Schumer of New York and Nancy Pelosi of California said such words "ring hollow" when coming from Trump. They noted the president's recent praise of a GOP congressman who body-slammed a reporter, among other Trump statements.
The targets of the bombs were some of the figures most frequently criticized by Trump, who still assails Clinton at rallies while supporters chant "lock her up" — two years after he defeated her and she largely left the political scene. Trump has also accused Soros of paying protesters and singles out cable news network CNN as he rails against the "fake news" media.
While stopping short of blaming Trump's rhetoric for inspiring the attacks, Jeff Zucker, the president of CNN Worldwide, contended there was a "total and complete lack of understanding at the White House about the seriousness of their continued attacks on the media."
Zucker tweeted that Trump and Sanders have shown "no comprehension" that their words matter.
Some at CNN are angry that Sanders's first statement on the explosive devices did not mention CNN as one of the targets, although a later tweet by her did so.
CNN is also upset that a fundraising letter that attacked CNN was sent out Wednesday by the Trump campaign, after CNN's New York headquarters was evacuated. Trump's campaign chairman later apologized for the message, which he said was pre-programmed and automated.
Trump's campaign rallies frequently include chants of "CNN sucks."
In both speeches Wednesday, Trump avoided calling the incidents of terrorism, something de Blasio and Cuomo specifically did Wednesday.