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Biden and De Niro mail bombs: Officials say suspicious packages sent to former vice president – The Washington Post

Police found more suspicious packages the day after bombs addressed to Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and others were intercepted.

Authorities investigating a wave of pipe bombs mailed to prominent figures across the country said Thursday that they have found 10 similar packages, including two sent to former vice president Joe Biden and another mailed to the actor Robert De Niro.

These latest packages set off new alarms amid a sprawling investigation into explosive devices mailed to a string of politicians — including former president Barack Obama and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton — who have all criticized President Trump. Like the others, the packages sent to Biden and De Niro were intercepted before reaching their intended targets and did not detonate. They also prompted a further surge of law enforcement activity as the effort to find the culprit or culprits, along with any other possible explosives, expanded farther across the country.

The devices have prompted unease and heightened security nationwide. Police have increased patrols of high-profile people, areas and organizations that could be targeted, and authorities have warned some prominent figures — including former president Jimmy Carter — to be on alert. Investigators were also exploring whether at least some of the 10 packages were mailed from Florida, a law enforcement official said.

The search for answers behind the bombs pushed into a fourth day Thursday, after investigators in a Delaware mail facility found a package addressed to Biden similar to the others that contained pipe bombs, according to a law enforcement official. The package was apparently not delivered to Biden’s home and may have been on its way to being returned to the person listed on the return address of the envelope, the official said. A second package sent to Biden, similar to the others, was also found in Delaware, the FBI said.

The FBI declined to elaborate beyond saying that local and state police, along with U.S. Postal Service investigators and FBI agents, were “responding this morning to a United States Postal facility in Delaware to conduct law enforcement activity.”

A similar package was also found addressed to De Niro, an Oscar-winning actor who has publicly clashed with Trump, at his production offices in Manhattan, according to the authorities. An X-ray of the package indicated a similar pipe bomb inside, and investigators suspect it was sent by the same person who sent explosives to Clinton, Obama and others, a law enforcement official said.

Authorities said the device found at De Niro’s office was discovered due to the images of the packages that have circulated since Wednesday morning. John Miller, deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism at the New York City Police Department, said a retired detective up early Thursday saw this packaging on the news and realized it “looked very much like a package he had seen on Tuesday in mail he was to screen” at De Niro’s office. That former detective called the bomb squad, which took the device away.

The fact that none of the bombs exploded is of keen interest to the FBI and ATF, who were working to determine if that was intentional or the result of inexpert work, a person familiar with the matter said. Because the bombs were intact, investigators have been able to glean significant forensic evidence from each of them, the person said.

The FBI on Thursday said the packages and devices were being examined at the FBI’s lab in Quantico, Va.


This image obtained Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018, and provided by ABC News shows a package addressed to former CIA head John Brennan and an explosive device that was sent to CNN’s New York office. The mail-bomb scare widened Thursday as law enforcement officials seized more suspicious packages. (ABC News via AP)

Officials on Thursday declined to say whether the devices were intended to detonate or were meant to scare people, but they repeatedly urged the public to view them as if they could pose a threat, with the head of the New York City Police Department describing them “as suspected explosive devices.”

“This is something that should be taken seriously,” James P. O’Neill, the New York City police commissioner, said at a news briefing. “We are treating them as live devices.”

One lead being pursued by investigators was that some of the devices may have been mailed from Florida, but officials were cautious Thursday in urging the public to call in with tips from anywhere that might be relevant to their investigation.

William F. Sweeney Jr., assistant director in charge of the FBI New York field office, said investigators were actively probing messages they had received from the public. He asked people to remain vigilant, warning that more devices “have been or could be mailed,” and he said any suspicious package should be considered dangerous until proven otherwise. Sweeney urged anyone who finds one to contact law enforcement.

The U.S. Postal Service has inspectors who are trained to recognize suspicious mail and utilize X-ray machines as part of a screening process, officials said. Philip Bartlett, inspector in charge of U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s New York division, said Thursday afternoon at the news briefing that the postal service had found no new packages since early that morning, leaving the tally at 10 recovered so far.

While the first explosive device was found Monday — at the New York home of George Soros, a billionaire activist known to fund pro-democracy and liberal political groups — it was not until early Wednesday that it became apparent investigators were hunting a serial bomber. The Secret Service said it had intercepted two bombs — one addressed to Clinton at the New York home she shares with former president Bill Clinton and another addressed to Obama. Neither bomb included a written message, law enforcement officials said.

Law enforcement officials described the devices as pipes stuffed with explosive material and wrapped in electrical wire and tape, but they provided no detail on how they would have been detonated. At least two of the devices appeared to have been hand-delivered, according to law enforcement officials, while others were found in the mail.

The FBI said the packages found so far had shared characteristics, including manila envelopes with bubble-wrapped interiors. They all also had a half-dozen Forever stamps, computer-printed address labels and return addresses bearing the misspelled name of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), who chaired the Democratic National Committee during part of the 2016 presidential campaign. Officials do not think she had anything to do with the packages and believe she was a possible victim.

FBI@FBI

If you have info that could assist the ‘s investigation of suspicious packages, call 1-800-CALLFBI (225-5324) or use http://tips.fbi.gov . If you observe suspicious activity that requires an immediate response, call 911 or contact local law enforcement immediately.

Other packages were soon discovered, including two sent to Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), one sent to CNN’s New York offices and addressed to John Brennan, the former CIA director, and another addressed to Eric Holder Jr., Obama’s first attorney general. That package had an incorrect address, so it was “returned” to Wasserman Schultz’s office in Sunrise, Fla., and recovered there.

As more devices were found, a troubling pattern emerged — the bomber or bombers appeared to be targeting prominent Democratic figures and others who have clashed with Trump and been the focus of his incendiary rhetoric. De Niro declared “F—- Trump” during remarks at the Tony Awards over the summer; the president responded by tweeting that he was “a very Low IQ individual.”

Trump decried the bombs in remarks at the White House on Wednesday, then hours later at a rally in Wisconsin, he blamed the media and others for incivility in the country. He continued on that theme Thursday morning with a tweet that did not directly mention the explosives but said that “A very big part of the Anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the Mainstream Media that I refer to as Fake News.”

John Wagner, Katie Zezima and Matt Zapotosky contributed to this report.

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Sorgente: Biden and De Niro mail bombs: Officials say suspicious packages sent to former vice president – The Washington Post

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