“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,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a press conference outside the Time Warner Center. Photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office
Police remove apparent explosive devices delivered to CNN’s offices and Robert De Niro’s Tribeca restaurant and offices; law enforcement investigating string of suspected bombs sent to Democratic political figures.
By Michael Garofalo
An apparent pipe bomb discovered in CNN’s Manhattan headquarters prompted the evacuation of the news network’s offices Wednesday morning.
Police responded at approximately 10:00 a.m. Wednesday to reports of a suspicious package in CNN’s mailroom at the Time Warner Center on Columbus Circle. Officers identified what “appeared to be a live explosive device,” NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill said at an afternoon press conference.
Many individuals in the area received an emergency cellphone alert advising those in the vicinity of West 58th Street near Columbus Circle to “shelter in place immediately.”
An NYPD bomb squad removed the device and transported it to a police firing range in the Bronx for investigation.
On Thursday morning, NYPD officers removed another suspicious package delivered to the Tribeca restaurant and offices of Robert De Niro, the actor and prominent Trump critic. “It looks exactly consistent with what we’ve seen with the other devices,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in an appearance on MSNBC Thursday morning.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Secret Service intercepted suspected explosive devices sent to former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. John Miller, the NYPD’s deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism, said the devices sent to Clinton and Obama are similar to the one discovered at CNN.
Miller said that the NYPD is collaborating with the FBI in its investigation of the bombs, adding, “it appears that an individual, or individuals, sent out multiple similar packages.”
O’Neill said the department is deploying additional police around the city “out of an abundance of caution.”
Mayor de Blasio said the city is not aware of “other credible and specific threats” at this time.
“This clearly is an act of terror attempting to undermine our free press and leaders of this country through acts of violence,” de Blasio said.
On Monday, police responded to a suspected explosive device found at the Westchester County residence of billionaire investor and liberal political contributor George Soros.
Law enforcement officials around the country responded Wednesday and Thursday to several other suspicious packages addressed to prominent Democratic political figures, including Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, former Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Maxine Waters. So far, ten such packages have been identified.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that a “device” was sent to his Manhattan office, on Third Avenue near Grand Central Station, but a subsequent investigation revealed that a suspicious package delivered to the offices was not in fact a bomb.
The bomb delivered to the CNN offices was addressed to former CIA director John Brennan, who as a political commentator for another network, MSNBC, has harshly criticized President Donald Trump. O’Neill said that the package also included “an envelope containing white powder.”
In a statement, CNN President Jeff Zucker singled out Trump, who has frequently attacked CNN as “fake news.”
“There is a total and complete lack of understanding at the White House about the seriousness of their continued attacks on the media,” Zucker said. “The President, and especially the White House Press Secretary, should understand their words matter. Thus far, they have shown no comprehension of that.”
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders condemned the attempted attacks in a statement and later responded critically to Zucker, who she said “chose to attack and divide.” Trump said an investigation is underway to bring those responsible for the “despicable acts” to justice.
“In these times, we have to unify,” he said Wednesday afternoon. “We have to come together and send one very clear, strong and unmistakable message that acts or threats of political violence of any kind have no place in the United States of America.”
On Thursday morning, Trump tweeted, “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!”