Suspicious Packages Sent To Clintons, Obamas, CNN Prompt Massive Response
/ CBS San Francisco
(CBS News) -- A sprawling investigation unfolded Wednesday as authorities scrambled to respond to a series of suspicious packages. The Secret Service intercepted two packages that were addressed to former President Obama's home in Washington and Bill and Hillary Clinton's residence in Westchester County, New York.
Another package was addressed to former CIA Director John Brennan at the New York City offices of CNN, prompting CNN's bureau and the Time Warner Center to evacuate.
A package that was originally addressed to former Attorney General Eric Holder didn't arrive at the address it was intended for and was rerouted to the return address on the label -- the Florida office of former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Crude but functional low-ordnance explosive devices found in at least two of the packages consisted of a pipe, wires and black powder, a law enforcement official told CBS News senior investigative producer Pat Milton.
Investigators probe devices for clues
Multiple law enforcement sources say one of the bombs consisted of PVC tubing and used a digital clock connected to a small battery as a possible trigger device, CBS News' Jeff Pegues reports. Pyrotechnic powder was the explosive, and in order to keep it lightweight, glass was used as shrapnel.
Investigators think whoever put the device together was trying to keep the weight down so that they could put in a mailbox without having to appear at a post office for mailing.
The six packages were all similar in appearance. The large manila envelopes with six American flag "Forever" stamps will now be analyzed at the FBI laboratory in Quantico, Virginia. Investigators will deconstruct them, looking to trace the origin of the wiring and the other components to see where and when they may have been purchased and by whom.
Packages sent to be opened in Quantico
The packages are being sent to the FBI Laboratory in Quantico, Virginia, according to a press release by the FBI. A U.S. law enforcement official told CBS News' Andres Triay that all the bombs are going to the lab in Quantico because bomb technicians want to analyze the devices at the same lab.
Most of the packages have not been opened.
Security doubled at NYC bridges, tunnels, airports
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is directing state law enforcement to double security at locations including LaGuardia and JFK airports, as well as mass transit systems, bridges and tunnels.
He also said he is deploying 100 additional National Guard soldiers "out of an abundance of caution."
"Public safety is our number one priority, and we are taking all necessary precautions to ensure the safety and security of New Yorkers," he said in a statement.
FBI: Packages had a return address of "Debbie Wasserman Shultz"
The FBI says suspicious packages received between Monday and Wednesday at multiple locations in the New York and Washington, D.C., areas and Florida "contain potentially destructive devices."
"The packages were mailed in manila envelopes with bubble wrap interior," the FBI said in a statement. "The packages were affixed with computer-printed address labels and six Forever stamps. All packages had a return address of 'DEBBIE WASSERMAN SHULTZ' [sic] in Florida."
It said the packages were "similar" in their appearance, "as depicted in the below photograph." The FBI said addresses on the envelope were removed for privacy reasons:
The FBI said packages identified as of Wednesday were addressed to George Soros, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former President Obama, former CIA Director John Brennan and former Attorney General Eric Holder.
Suspicious package removed from Wasserman Schultz's office
The building that houses Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz's office in Sunrise, Florida, was evacuated Wednesday after a suspicious package arrived in the mail.
The package was removed safely from the building and taken to an FBI lab where it will be examined, CBS Miami reported.
The package was originally addressed to Eric Holder, but was sent to the wrong address and returned to the return address, the office of Wasserman Schultz.
Trump on suspicious packages: "We have to unify"
President Trump said Wednesday afternoon that "acts or threats of political violence of any kind have no place in the United States of America." He said in these times "we have to unify."
Speaking at a White House event Wednesday, Mr. Trump said he's been briefed about the suspicious packages sent to several top Democrats.
"The full weight of our government is being deployed to conduct this investigation and bring those responsible for these despicable acts to justice," he said. "We will spare no resources or expense in this effort."
He also said, "We're extremely angry, upset, unhappy about what we witnessed this morning and we will get to the bottom of it."
"The safety of the American people is my highest and absolute priority."
Watch his remarks below:
NYPD: Cuomo did not receive a package bomb
The New York City Police Department said a suspicious package at New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's office has been cleared by NYPD personnel and is unrelated to other devices.
Cuomo said earlier Wednesday that his Manhattan office had received a suspicious device.
Suspicious package to Rep. Maxine Waters intercepted
A suspicious package addressed to Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters was intercepted at a House mail facility, two sources told CBS News. The name on the return address was Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Later on Wednesday, Waters issued a statement saying, "I have been informed by U.S. Capitol Police that my Washington, DC office was the target of a suspicious package that has been referred to the FBI. I am appreciative of the law enforcement entities who intercepted the package and are investigating this matter. I unequivocally condemn any and all acts of violence and terror."
Two sources said the package addressed to Waters is similar to the others intercepted in New York and Washington, D.C.
Hillary Clinton thanks Secret Service
Hillary Clinton said Wednesday at a Florida fundraiser: "We are fine thanks to the men and women of the Secret Service who intercepted the package addressed to us long before it made its way to our home."
"Everyday we are grateful for their service and commitment and obviously, never, never more than today," she said. "But it is a troubling time isn't it? And it's a time of deep divisions and we have to do everything we can to bring our country together."
Clinton was speaking at a Coral Gables fundraiser for Democratic congressional candidate Donna Shalala, a former health and human services secretary.
NYPD: Devices appear to be crude pipe bombs
John Miller, NYPD's chief of counterterrorism, said during a news conference Wednesday that the device sent to CNN's offices in New York appeared to be sent by the same individual who mailed devices to the homes of billionaire financier and liberal activist George Soros, Hillary Clinton and former President Obama.
Miller and FBI officials said the devices all appeared to be crude pipe bombs.
Miller said it began on Monday night with the device sent to Soros and that they're looking at the devices as a pattern.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he would not be surprised if more devices are found.
"An act of terror"
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday: "The situation at the Time Warner Center was clearly an act of terror attempting to undermine our free press and intimidate New Yorkers."
"But the people of this city have shown time and again that they stand up in the face of terror," he tweeted.
At a briefing near Manhattan's Time Warner Center, New York City Police Commissioner James O'Neill pledged to bring the perpetrators to justice.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said "we will not allow these terrorist thugs to change the way we live our lives."
Package sent to CNN's offices contained device, white powder
The package sent to CNN's offices in New York contained what appeared to be a "live explosive device," said New York Police Commissioner James P. O'Neill. It also contained an envelope with white powder.
The package was addressed to former CIA Director John Brennan at CNN. Since leaving government, Brennan appears on television, but he works as an analyst for NBC News.
The package was found in the building's mailroom. It was described as a pipe with wires and was sent through the U.S. Postal Service, CBS New York reported.
A photo obtained by CBS News shows the device and a package addressed to John Brennan. The return address was listed as Debbie Wasserman Schultz, although there is no reason to believe she actually sent the package.
Responses to packages by Trump administration, White House
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders condemned "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," Sanders said in a statement Wednesday morning. "The United States Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies are investigating and will take all appropriate actions to protect anyone threatened by these cowards."
Vice President Mike Pence said in a tweet this morning "We condemn the attempted attacks against fmr Pres Obama, the Clintons, @CNN & others. These cowardly actions are despicable & have no place in this Country."
President Trump retweeted the vice president's tweet, adding "I agree wholeheartedly!"
There was no sign of increased security at outside the offices of local high-profile Democrats Sen. Diane Feinstein or Rep. Nancy Pelosi. Their offices declined to comment.