USA police probe suspicious package 'sent to De Niro restaurant'

Tonya Becker
October 27, 2018

The US Secret Service says suspicious packages have been sent to former US president Barack Obama and former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

The device was mailed in an envelope to CNN's offices on Columbus Circle using six stamps.

Investigators began closing in on Sayoc Thursday, as investigators traced the packages' path to South Florida, and recovered evidence inside at least one of the packages pointing to him.

But the president, who spoke at a White House event showcasing a new bipartisan measure to address the opioid crisis, preferred to put the perpetrators on notice than to explore any root causes. That device was constructed from a length of pipe about 6 inches long filled with explosive powder, and it was "proactively detonated" by bomb squad technicians, according to one of the officials, all of whom were briefed on the investigation.

But the episode sparked an outcry from Trump's critics who said his frequent expressions of inflammatory rhetoric against perceived enemies among Democrats and the press was stoking a climate ripe for politically motivated violence.

Trump told a political rally in Wisconsin on Wednesday his government would conduct "an aggressive investigation". They noted the president's recent praise of a GOP congressman who body-slammed a reporter, among other Trump statements.

He added: "The media also has a responsibly to set a civil tone and to stop the endless hostility and constant negative and oftentimes false attacks and stories".

Details suggested a pattern - that the items were packaged in manila envelopes, addressed to prominent Trump critics and carried US postage stamps. The five packages discovered Wednesday all had a similar address: That of Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, but with her name misspelled. Philip Bartlett, inspector in charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service's NY division, said Thursday afternoon that the Postal Service had found nothing since early that morning, leaving the tally at 10 packages.

The packages were sent in manila envelopes with bubble wrap, marked with computer-printed address labels. A law enforcement official says a suspicious package addressed to former Vice President Joe Biden was found in New Castle County, Del.

A suspicious package was also found at the Time Warner building in New York City, where CNN is located.

A package that contained a pipe bomb was addressed to the White House and intercepted at Joint Base Bolling in Washington, DC, reports CNN.

A suspicious package addressed to the Washington office of US Rep. Maxine Waters, D-California, was intercepted at a congressional mail-screening facility in Maryland, and a second package addressed to the congresswoman was found at a postal facility in Los Angeles. Obama and Clinton were not at risk, they said.

All of the targets are frequently maligned by right-wing critics. He threatened this morning, on the heels of the attack on CNN, that the mass media "had better get its act to together and fast".

President Jeff Zucker stated in a note to staff that they are checking all bureaus around the world "out of a complete abundance of caution". "The president, and especially the White House press secretary, should understand that their words matter".

"We should not mob people in public places or destroy public property", Trump said instead.

Democrats accuse the Republican leader of inciting violence that led to the attempted attacks.

Trump has frequently derided Clinton, his 2016 opponent who he's continued to mock in his campaign events almost two years after his victory over her. Chants of "Lock her up!" remain staples of his rallies, and reporters at Wednesday's rally noted the crowd did break into the familiar refrain before Trump arrived.

"I'm not saying - and I don't believe - that the president is doing this on goal, but he is doing it for his own political imperatives, especially at a time of upcoming midterm elections", Bokhari said in an interview.

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