Major Investigation Underway After Suspicious Packages Mailed To Government Officials | WGLT

Major Investigation Underway After Suspicious Packages Mailed To Government Officials

Oct 24, 2018
Originally published on October 24, 2018 8:35 pm
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They were wrapped in bubble wrap and packaged in manila envelopes. Several suspicious packages were addressed to a number of targets, including former President Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other prominent Democrats. And one arrived at the broadcast center of CNN in New York City. Authorities say the packages appear to contain pipe bombs. They never reached their intended targets. NPR's Quil Lawrence reports from New York City.

QUIL LAWRENCE, BYLINE: At the Time Warner building on the bottom left corner of New York City's Central Park, hundreds of people milled about outside the building where they had been working this morning until an evacuation order. Jessica Park had flown in from Chicago. She said she was mostly annoyed but also a bit worried when her meetings got interrupted.

JESSICA PARK: Saw the bomb squad. We were evacuated. I made us cross the street because I'm a bit of a worrywart.

LAWRENCE: CNN reporters were broadcasting live outside their own building as the news developed. NYPD trucks shut down the busy intersection where officials briefed the press.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JIMMY O'NEILL: We've seen this before. We've seen worse, and we will not be intimidated. And we will bring these perpetrators to justice.

LAWRENCE: That's Police Commissioner Jimmy O'Neill, who stood next to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio. They skirted around the obvious pattern of the attacks that they mostly targeted current or former Democratic Party officials and prominent critics of President Trump. Instead, de Blasio said he had a message for everyone.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BILL DE BLASIO: Let's just say this to all public officials of all partisan affiliations. Don't encourage violence. Don't encourage hatred. Don't encourage attacks on media. You can disagree, but you have to show respect for people and air your disagreements peacefully.

LAWRENCE: Hillary Clinton, who was addressing a Democratic Party event in Florida when the news broke, said she's worried about divisiveness in the country.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

HILLARY CLINTON: Usually when people ask me how am I doing - which happens quite often...

(LAUGHTER)

CLINTON: ...I say, well, as a person, I'm great. As an American, I'm worried.

LAWRENCE: The White House immediately condemned the attacks as cowardly and despicable and promised a thorough investigation. President Trump at a scheduled appearance to talk about the crisis of opioid abuse said he was angry and upset.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We have to unify. We have 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 United States of America.

LAWRENCE: His assembled audience applauded. But the president has in the past made remarks encouraging that his opponents be locked up or worse. He's called the press the enemy of the people and has noticeably failed to condemn political violence in cases like the white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Va., where a protester was killed. Today Trump seemed to acknowledge his statement had to be conciliatory.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: It's a very bipartisan statement. I can tell you. From both sides, we both agree on that.

LAWRENCE: He promised the full force of the federal government would be brought to bear in finding and prosecuting whomever sent the explosives. The FBI's labs are currently examining the devices as well as an unidentified white powder included in the package that arrived at CNN. Quil Lawrence, NPR News, New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.