Updates throughout The suspicious device found in CNN’s Time Warner Center mailroom this morning – delivered by courier – was “live” and contained a white powder, New York police officials confirmed today, prompting New York mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo to unofficially call the mailings acts of terror.
Law enforcement and government officials have not yet officially deemed the mailings as terrorist acts. Though the devices were deemed “live” earlier today by NYC Police Commissioner James O’Neill, their functionality was still being discussed by late afternoon. “Rudimentary but functional” was the chosen phrase of the afternoon on cable news.
Asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper about the device’s functionality, de Blasio said “unquestionably it was a legitimate device and thank God it didn’t go off…the fact that something didn’t go off is not the way to grade it.”
The CNN device (see it above), addressed to Former CIA Director John Brennan via the news network and one of at least five such packages discovered this week, prompted the evacuation of the tourist-popular Time Warner Center in New York City, where CNN has its New York bureau.
In addition to the CNN/Brennan package, suspicious devices have been found since last night addressed to Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Eric Holder, and, according to breaking reports, Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters. A pipe bomb was found in the mailbox of billionaire George Soros Monday.
At a press conference this afternoon, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said his Manhattan office had received a suspicious package; the package was later deemed benign and apparently not part of the wave of threatening mailings.
The evacuation of the Time Warner Center – which also includes a Whole Foods, a shopping mall and office space – continued well into the afternoon. (CNN staffers were allowed to return to their offices shortly before 4 pm ET). CNN’s Jim Sciutto and Poppy Harlow continued to report from outside the Columbus Circle building well past 2 pm ET. The Midtown vicinity is under heavy police presence, and some adjacent buildings also were evacuated.
In one of a series of memos to CNN staffers, CNN president Jeff Zucker said the company would “remain vigilant regarding security concerns across all of our global locations.”
Earlier reports that a suspicious device was intercepted at the White House proved false.
Brennan, a strong critic of President Donald Trump, does not work for CNN. He is a frequent contributor to NBC and MSNBC.
The Florida office of Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz was evacuated earlier today after a suspicious package was found there, addressed to former Attorney General Eric Holder but, like the other packages, carrying a return address of Wasserman Schultz’s office. (The package intended for Holder included an incorrect address and so was returned to the Wasserman Schultz return address).
At a press conference this afternoon, during which New York’s mayor, governor and commissioner of police spoke, the device at CNN was confirmed as a live functional explosive device containing a suspicious white powder.
Speaking at a previously planned rally in Florida, Hillary Clinton thanked the Secret Service for keeping her family safe. “Every day we are grateful for their service and their commitment,” she said, adding that we live in “a troubling time” of “deep division.”
The White House said President Donald Trump had been briefed on the situation. Vice President Mike Pence issued the following statement: “These cowardly actions ares despicable and have no place in this country. Those responsible will be brought to justice,” which Trump retweeted with the comment, “I agree wholeheartedly!”
The device at CNN was discovered in the network’s mailroom. Sciutto and Harlow, on air, were among the CNN staffers ordered to leave the building; the two continued reporting on the situation outside the building, initially using Harlow’s iPhone.
Just before 11:40 am ET, the bomb device was removed from the Time Warner Center, likely for off-site detonation at an NYPD training facility in The Bronx.
CNN cited an NYPD source describing the device sent to Time Warner Center as constructed with a pipe and wires.
The incident at CNN follows the interception earlier today and last night of suspicious packages resembling homemade bombs addressed to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, the Secret Service confirmed earlier.
In a White House statement, press secretary Sarah Sanders said:
“We condemn 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. The United States Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies are investigating and will take all appropriate action to protect anyone threatened by these cowards.”
The device intended for the former First Lady was addressed to the Chappaqua, N.Y. home she shares with former president Bill Clinton. The Secret Service intercepted the package last night.
In a statement, the Secret Service earlier confirmed it had intercepted “two suspicious packages addressed to Secret Service protectees.” (The Clinton-addressed package was intercepted on the night of Oct. 23; the package intended for Obama was intercepted in Washington, D.C. early this morning).
The Secret Service statement continued: “The packages were immediately identified during routine mail screening procedures as potential explosive devices and were appropriately handled as such. The protectees did not receive the packages nor were they at risk of receiving them.”
Both the Secret Service and the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force are investigating the incidents, with the Secret Service saying the investigation will “leverage all available federal, state, and local resources to determine the source of the packages and identify those responsible.”
A statement made by Chappaqua’s New Castle Police Department indicated that the local enforcement officials “assisted the FBI, Secret Service and the West Chester Police with the investigation of a suspicious package.”
The Secret Service released a statement saying that at no time were Clinton or Obama in danger from the packages, which, as is standard practice with all mail to protectees, were intercepted at an offsite facility.