“Potentially destructive devices” sent to nine people prompt massive response

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(CBS News) — At least nine suspicious packages were sent to prominent Democrats and critics of President Trump. The latest was addressed to actor Robert De Niro and found in lower Manhattan on Thursday morning.

Other apparent bombs were sent to former President Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Vice President Joe Biden and former CIA Director John Brennan. None of the devices have exploded, and nobody was hurt.

The FBI suspected the packages are linked and warned there could be more. In a speech Wednesday night, Mr. Trump called acts or threats of political violence “an attack on democracy itself.”

But he tweeted Thursday morning that so-called “Fake News” is causing anger in our society and said, “Mainstream Media must clean up its act, FAST!”

A source familiar with the investigation tells CBS News all pieces of mail processed by the U.S. Postal Service are put through machines that photograph and document what they are, where they came from and where they’re headed.

It’s all a result of the post-9/11, post-anthrax world we live in, the source says.

Using what’s described as “data analytics,” investigators are now looking at mail processing facilities nationwide to check for packages that may appear similar to the others sent to top Democrats.

Security concerns kept the source form sharing specifics on how this is being carried out, but it’s one tool investigators are using to cast a wide net to quickly determine if there are any other suspicious packages out there.

CBS News has learned that a suspicious package was sent to actor Robert De Niro, a fierce critic of President Trump.

A law enforcement source tells CBS News that at roughly 5 a.m. Thursday, security personnel at Tribeca Productions called the New York Police Department about the package, which was addressed to De Niro.

The Bomb Squad responded, X-rayed the package and determined the device inside was similar to the ones sent to other prominent Democrats and seen in pictures the NYPD distributed Wednesday.

The package appears to be from same sender, the source says.

The NYPD says it removed the device. A source tells CBS News it was taken to the NYPD bomb disposal range.

Tribeca, a neighborhood in lower Manhattan, was the scene of intense police activity Thursday morning.

A source familiar with the ongoing investigation confirms to CBS News that a suspicious package has been located that was addressed to former Vice President Biden. It’s consistent with the packages sent to other leading Democrats.

The package was found in New Castle, Delaware, the source says. The timing was unclear, but it seems to have been sometime between 7 p.m. Wednesday and early Thursday morning.

Police were out in force at Biden’s Greenville, Delaware, home Wednesday.

Investigators said they did a sweep of the home and found no suspicious packages.

New Castle County Police searched the property and checked the surrounding area.

Biden also owns a home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. It wasn’t immediately known if that home was searched, as well.

Investigators in New York are working around the clock, poring over video from local business and other surveillance cameras in the area near the Time Warner Center in search of the courier who delivered what turned out to be a suspicious package to the building’s mail room where CNN is located. They are also looking to see if anyone may be identified as possibly doing their own pre-surveillance of the building in the days leading up to the delivery of the device.

Investigators from the FBI-NYPD Joint Terrorism Task Force — as well as bomb techs, agents from the FBI and ATF, and U.S. Secret Service – have been searching for clues or so-called “forensic digital footprints” that could lead them to the individual or individuals responsible.

The explosive devices did not blow up so investigators have a trove of potential evidence available to them. They will be able to find serial numbers and lot numbers on the devices’ components which will help them determine the stores or where online the materials to make the bombing devices were purchased.

Investigators in New York are also reviewing license plate readers located at every bridge and tunnel crossing recording every vehicle entering or leaving Manhattan.

The Associated Press reports the devices sent to prominent Democrats and CNN were packed with shards of glass, according to a law enforcement official.

Tests have determined that a powder found inside an envelope delivered to CNN along with a pipe bomb was harmless, a law enforcement official tells CBS News.

Trump pledges to bring suspect(s) behind suspicious packages to justice

At a “Make America Great Again” rally in Mosinee, Wisconsin, Wednesday night, President Trump said he will bring the suspect or suspects behind the recent string of suspicious packages to justice.

“My highest duty as you know as president is to keep America safe,” he said, adding that the “federal government is conducting an aggressive investigation.” He condemned threats of political violence as “an attack on our democracy itself,” and called for “all sides to come together in peace and harmony.”

Moments later, Mr. Trump also took the opportunity to criticize media coverage of politics.

“The media also has a responsibility to set a civil tone and to stop the endless hostility and constant negative and oftentimes false attacks and stories,” he said, on the same day that a suspicious package was sent to CNN.

 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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