Serial mail bomb plot: 11th, 12th devices found, addressed to Cory Booker, James Clapper at CNN

Manhunt continues for person behind nationwide mail-bomb plot
Posted at 9:30 AM, Oct 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-26 05:38:04-04

(RNN) – FBI and other officials searching a mail facility in Florida discovered a new suspicious package similar to the mail bombs sent to high-profile Democrats - this one addressed to Sen. Cory Booker.

The nationwide search continued Friday for the person or people who sent the explosive devices to politicians, liberal advocates and CNN over the past week, as part of what could be a politically motivated plot.

The NYPD reported a suspicious package also had been found at a postal facility in Manhattan on Friday. CNN reported it was similar to the other devices, addressed to James Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence and CNN contributor, and sent to CNN’s New York office at Time Warner Center.

Officials described the devices as functional, but none have detonated. The FBI warns more could be out there.

The investigation into the mail bombs led authorities to parts of southern Florida, including a postal facility in the city of Opa-locka, where officials believe some of the packages might have originated. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen confirmed on Thursday that some of them originated in Florida.

The list of potential victims reads like a list of Trump’s most notable critics or targets of his verbal attacks. At around 3 a.m. Friday, Trump took to Twitter to deflect blame that his angry rhetoric may have played a role in inspiring this and other violent attacks.

Other packages were sent to former President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Attorney General Eric Holder, billionaire philanthropist George Soros, actor Robert De Niro, and former CIA Director John Brennan, whose package was sent care of CNN. Two devices each were sent to addresses for Democratic U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters and former Vice President Joe Biden.

The first, sent to Soros, was discovered Monday at his New York home. Authorities intercepted the remaining packages over the coming days before they reached their targets.

The packages have all contained explosives resembling crude pipe bombs. Investigators are examining them to see if they were meant to detonate or simply to intimidate.

The FBI is warning Americans to remain vigilant, because the suspect could have mailed other potentially explosive packages that authorities haven’t uncovered.

The agency is asking for the public’s help in catching the person responsible. On Thursday, it released a statement describing the packages:

“The packages were mailed in manila envelopes with bubble wrap interior, and were affixed with computer-printed address labels and six Forever stamps. They had a return address of “DEBBIE WASSERMAN SHULTZ” [sic] in Florida. The packages, which are all similar in appearance and contain potentially destructive devices, are being sent for analysis at the FBI Laboratory in Quantico, Virginia.”

The FBI warned people not to touch any suspicious packages but to call 911 or their local law enforcement agency.

Those with information about the case are asked to call the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI.

All the packages have return addresses for Wasserman Schultz, a congresswoman whose district is in southern Florida. She also is the former head of the Democratic National Committee.

The package meant for Eric Holder was forwarded to one of Wasserman Schultz’s offices because it was the return address.

By Wednesday, authorities reported they had intercepted packaged devices addressed to Holder, Obama, Clinton, Waters, Soros and Brennan.

The device meant for Brennan also was sent to CNN’s New York headquarters; the sender might have mistakenly thought Brennan works there.

The devices addressed to Biden were discovered Thursday and matched others sent to targets. Officials discovered them at post offices in Wilmington and New Castle, DE.

Late Thursday night, a suspicious package was found at the Los Angeles office of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, but it was quickly determined to be safe, KCAL reported.

A mail clerk in the building had called police after seeing that “Santa Monica” was misspelled on the package, which turned out to be a manila envelope with a CD inside.

Packages containing the devices had misspellings on their addresses, so the clerk thought the “Santa Monica” misspelling could have meant another potential explosive.

The Time Warner Center also was evacuated again Thursday evening over unattended packages in the mall section of the building, only a day after the explosive meant for Brennan was delivered there.

The packages discovered in the Time Warner Center on Thursday were cleared by the NYPD shortly after being discovered.

A package addressed to De Niro at his company Tribeca Productions in New York was delivered Wednesday and reported to authorities early Thursday morning. It reportedly made it to the seventh floor of the building before a security guard reported it. The NYPD bomb squad removed it from the scene.

De Niro, like other targets, has publicly disparaged the president.

After the packages to Obama, Clinton and CNN were discovered, Trump made a plea for national unity and urged Americans not to attack each other over political differences. He changed his tone later that night, blaming the media for causing the widespread anger that potentially motivated the person who mailed the devices.

Even as the bomb squad was at work in New York Thursday morning, Trump took to Twitter to attack the media for what he called “purposely false and inaccurate reporting.” He offered no evidence to back his claims.

Meanwhile, critics have cited Trump’s frequent vitriolic attacks on his political opponents as a determining factor in the coarsening of American civil discourse.

On Thursday, Brennan tweeted back at Trump, writing: “Stop blaming others. Look in the mirror. Your inflammatory rhetoric, insults, lies, & encouragement of physical violence are disgraceful.”

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders has pushed back against assertions that the president was in any way culpable for the potential bombing attempts.

“The president is certainly not responsible for sending suspicious packages to someone no more than Bernie Sanders was responsible for a supporter of his shooting up a Republican baseball field practice last year,” she said Thursday.

Sanders referred to the shooting that badly injured Republican Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana and others. The shooter, James Hodgkinson, attacked the team because of their political views, his social media suggested.

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