WASHINGTON, D.C. — Former Vice President Joe Biden and actor and activist Robert De Niro are among the latest prominent Democrats to whom someone has sent a string of pipe bomb packages through the mail.
De Niro’s Tribeca Enterprises says “everyone is safe” after the interception of a suspicious package, apparently containing another crude pipe bomb or similar device, addressed to the actor in New York.
A law enforcement official speaking on condition of anonymity told the Associated Press that X-ray examination revealed the package contained a device similar to the explosives that were mailed to Hillary Clinton, former President Barack Obama, the former head of the CIA in care of CNN, and others. According to investigators, it appeared to have come from the same sender.
The FBI confirmed there was law enforcement activity at two U.S. mail facilities in Delaware, where another law enforcement official, also speaking anonymously, said packages addressed to Biden were intercepted and bore similarities to the packages addressed to the others.
None of the bombs has detonated, and no one has been hurt, although the package sent to the Time Warner Center in New York, where CNN’s New York City bureau operates, forced the network to evacuate during a live broadcast.
According to the Associated Press, authorities say the pipe bombs intercepted earlier this week, seven in all, were packed with shards of glass, and were seized in New York, Washington, D.C., Florida and California. If the packages sent to De Niro and Biden are determined to be from the same sender, that would bring the total of pipe bomb devices linked to the case to nine.
The targets of the packages, to date, have been some of the figures most frequently criticized by President Donald Trump.
Wednesday, the White House issued a statement through Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders condemning the package mailings.
Statement on suspicious packages: pic.twitter.com/pYSbDvCvuk
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) October 24, 2018
Thursday morning, President Trump tweeted that “Anger” in society is “caused by the purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the Mainstream Media.”
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. It has gotten so bad and hateful that it is beyond description. Mainstream Media must clean up its act, FAST!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 25, 2018
The tweet did not specifically refer to the pipe bomb mailings. At a rally in Wisconsin on Wednesday, however, the president took a softer tone, saying, “Let’s get along.”
Former CIA chief John Brennan, the intended recipient of the pipe bomb package mailed to CNN, tweeted criticism for President Trump’s attacks on media and his critics.
Stop blaming others. Look in the mirror. Your inflammatory rhetoric, insults, lies, & encouragement of physical violence are disgraceful. Clean up your act….try to act Presidential. The American people deserve much better. BTW, your critics will not be intimidated into silence. https://t.co/cS5qNiuU7o
— John O. Brennan (@JohnBrennan) October 25, 2018
CNN was also sharply critical of the president, with a statement from CNN President Jeff Zucker that read in part:
There is a total and complete lack of understanding at the White House about the seriousness of their continued attacks on the media… The President, and especially the White House Press Secretary, should understand their words matter. Thus far, they have shown no comprehension of that.
That statement was met by criticism from Sanders, who tweeted that the president “asked Americans ‘to come together and send one very clear, strong, unmistakable message that acts or threats of political violence of any kind have no place in the USA’ Yet you chose to attack and divide. America should unite against all political violence.”
Dan Shelley, the executive director of RTDNA, the Radio Television Digital News Association, penned an open letter to all journalists reading in part:
Speaking today at the White House, President Trump said:In these times we have to unify. We have to come together and send one clear, strong, unmistakable message that acts or threats of political violence of any kind have no place in the United States of America. This egregious conduct is abhorrent to everything we hold dear and sacred as Americans.
Those words were uttered by the same person who has used harsh rhetoric targeting journalists and political opponents during campaign rallies in an extremely tense and divisive political environment.
It is the responsibility of RTDNA, the world’s largest professional association devoted exclusively to broadcast and digital journalism, to call out the president and those of his supporters who engage in such pomposity aimed at further dividing our country and inflaming hateful ideologies. We must do so even while acknowledging there is currently no indication that whoever is responsible for sending the explosive devices has been inspired in some demented way by words spoken at a political rally or in a campaign ad.
It is the responsibility of the journalists of America to keep their heads down and continue to do the important work to which they were called.
Don’t succumb to intimidation and fear.
Watch your backs, but don’t back down.
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