What We Know About the Suspicious Packages Sent to Democrats, CNN

Targets include Obama, Clinton, Soros, Holder, Brennan, Waters, CNN, Biden, De Niro, Booker, and Clapper.

Richard Drew/AP

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A string of suspicious packages containing potential explosive devices has been sent to prominent Democrats and the New York offices of CNN this week, prompting a massive manhunt for the person or people behind the attempted bombings. Targets have included former President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, billionaire philanthropist George Soros, former Attorney General Eric Holder, former CIA Director John Brennan via CNN, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), former Vice President Joe Biden, and the actor Robert De Niro.

On Friday, the FBI announced that a package addressed to Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) was discovered in Florida. Another addressed to former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was uncovered in New York.

Several key commonalities have been reported, including the detail that the return address used on some, if not all, of the packages belonged to Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the former chair of the Democratic National Committee. Schultz’s Florida offices were evacuated Wednesday morning after a suspicious package was detected, but it appears as though its arrival was a potential accident and that the package was intended for Holder.

The first package was uncovered at Soros’ Westchester County home on Monday.

On Wednesday, shortly after the packages addressed to Obama and Clinton were reported, CNN employees in New York were ordered to evacuate as law enforcement officials responded to the explosive device detected in the building. That package, which law enforcement officials later confirmed also contained white powder, was addressed to John Brennan, the former CIA director who has appeared regularly on cable news programs to offer sharp rebukes of President Donald Trump. 

While a motive for the spate of bombings remains unclear, the clearest pattern that has emerged is the apparent targeting of prominent Democrats and a media organization, two groups that have been vilified by right-wing groups and the president, particularly as the midterm elections approach. In recent days, Trump has ratcheted up the rhetoric by publicly praising the Montana Republican who body-slammed a reporter, in addition to repeatedly and baselessly accusing Democrats of funding the so-called “caravan” of migrants attempting to enter the United States. Last month, he falsely accused Soros of bankrolling the sexual assault survivors protesting Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination.

Trump, who at first retweeted a condemnation by Vice President Mike Pence to say he “wholeheartedly” agreed, later on Wednesday denounced the attacks as “despicable.” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders also released a statement condemning the acts.

But Trump’s calls to “unify” in light of the attacks were largely rejected, with many describing them as hypocritical coming from a president who regularly smeared his perceived opponents and journalists. “President Trump’s words ring hollow until he reverses his statements that condone acts of violence,” Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. CNN president Jeff Zucker sharply denounced both Trump and Sanders for their “total and complete lack of understanding” on the seriousness of the president’s ongoing attacks against the media. 

This post will be updated as more information is confirmed.

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