An NYPD bomb squad vehicle departs an area outside Time Warner Center on Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen)

An NYPD bomb squad vehicle departs an area outside Time Warner Center on Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen)

Investigators zero in on crude bombs as clues to motive

Law enforcement officials seized three more devices Thursday — two addressed to former Vice-President Joe Biden and one to actor Robert De Niro.

Investigators probing crude pipe bombs sent to prominent critics of President Donald Trump are trying to determine whether the devices were intended to detonate or simply to sow fear, law enforcement officials told The Associated Press Thursday.

The officials said the devices were not rigged like a booby-trapped package bomb that would explode upon opening. They had timers and batteries but never went off. Law enforcement officials were still uncertain whether the devices were poorly designed or never intended to cause physical harm.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation by name.

The details about the devices came as the four-day mail-bomb scare widened. Law enforcement officials seized three more devices Thursday — two addressed to former Vice-President Joe Biden and one to actor Robert De Niro — described as similar to the devices sent to former President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, CNN and others.

The new discoveries brought to at least 10 the number of suspicious packages targeting Democrats but intercepted by authorities this week.

Much was still unanswered about the devices, including how they were delivered, and authorities have said nothing about suspects. Details suggest only a broad pattern — that the items were packaged in manila envelopes, addressed to prominent Trump critics and carried U.S. postage stamped. Some were discovered in mail processing facilities.

Related: Trudeau calls U.S. mail bombs ‘disturbing’, monitoring situation closely

Related: Crude pipe bombs sent to Obama, Clintons, CNN; no injuries

The packages stoked nationwide tensions and fears two weeks before major congressional midterm elections. Even with the sender still unknown, politicians from both parties used the moment to decry a toxic political climate and lay blame.

“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,” Trump said on Twitter. “It has gotten so bad and hateful that it is beyond description. Mainstream Media must clean up its act, FAST!”

Former CIA Director John Brennan, the target of one package sent to CNN, fired back.

“Stop blaming others. Look in the mirror,” Brennan tweeted. “Your inflammatory rhetoric, insults, lies, & encouragement of physical violence are disgraceful. Clean up your act….try to act Presidential.”

The list of bombing targets spread from New York, Delaware and Washington, D.C., to Florida and California.

The explosive devices were packed in envelopes with bubble-wrap interiors bearing six American flag stamps and the return address of Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee who was accused by Clinton rivals of secretly helping the party’s eventual presidential nominee.

The bombs seized Wednesday, each with a small battery, were about six inches long and packed with powder and broken glass, according to a law enforcement official who viewed X-ray images. The official said the devices were made from PVC pipe and covered with black tape.

The packages discovered Thursday set off a new wave of alarm.

Two officials told The Associated Press that a person working at De Niro’s Manhattan office called police after seeing images of a package bomb sent to CNN and recalling a similar package addressed to the actor. De Niro’s office is located in the TriBeCa Film Center in lower Manhattan, and also includes an upscale restaurant and private screening room.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the packages were “clearly an effort to terrorize people politically, to choose people for political purposes and attack them because of their beliefs.”

The packages addressed to Biden were intercepted at Delaware mail facilities in New Castle and Wilmington, according to a law enforcement official who, like others, wasn’t authorized to discuss the investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Like earlier targets, both Biden and De Niro have been sharply critical of Trump. The actor dropped an expletive insult at Trump at this year’s Tony Awards and also apologized to Canadians for the “idiotic behaviour of my president.” Biden said last week that the president may not “know what he’s doing” and coddles dictators.

The first crude bomb to be discovered was delivered Monday to the suburban New York compound of George Soros, a liberal billionaire and major contributor to Democratic causes. Soros has called Trump’s presidency “dangerous.”

Similar packages addressed to Hillary Clinton and former President Barack Obama were intercepted on their way to Chappaqua, New York, where the Clintons live with former President Bill Clinton and to Washington, where Obama lives with his wife, Michelle. The Secret Service said neither package reached its intended recipient.

Others were sent to frequent Trump critics Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., and former Obama Attorney General Eric Holder. His ended up at the Florida office of Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who was listed as the return address.

A police bomb squad removed the package addressed to Brennan from CNN’s New York office, which was evacuated.

As the scope of the attack became clearer Wednesday, Trump decried political violence during a scripted event in the White House East Room, and other members of the administration said violence has no place in American society.

Later at a rally in Wisconsin, he urged unity.

“Let’s get along,” he said. “By the way, do you see how nice I’m behaving tonight? Have you ever seen this?”

But at the same event, he blamed the news media and on Twitter Thursday kept up the argument that the media play a role.

“Acts or threats of political violence have no place in the United States,” Trump said.

But Democratic Senate and House leaders Chuck Schumer of New York and Nancy Pelosi of California said such words “ring hollow” when coming from Trump. They noted the president’s recent praise of a GOP congressman who body-slammed a reporter, among other pugnacious statements.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders took a slap at Democrats as she defended Trump.

“The president is certainly not responsible for sending suspicious packages to someone no more than Bernie Sanders was responsible for a supporter of his shooting up a Republican baseball field practice last year.”

James T. Hodgkinson, 66, was shot and killed by police after he opened fire on congressional Republicans practicing for their annual charity baseball game against Democrats in 2017. Hodgkinson’s widow said he had been a supporter of Vermont independent Bernie Sanders in 2016.

___

Sisak reported from New York. Associated Press writers Laurie Kellman, Colleen Long, Ken Thomas, Jill Colvin and Chad Day in Washington and Jim Mustian, Deepti Hajela and Tom Hays in New York contributed to this report.

Michael Balsamo, Eric Tucker And Colleen Long, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

FILE - In this Jan. 6, 2000 file photo, Bill and Hillary Clinton stand in the driveway of their new home in Chappaqua, N.Y. A U.S. official says a “functional explosive device” was found at Hillary and Bill Clinton’s suburban New York home. (AP Photo, File)

FILE - In this Jan. 6, 2000 file photo, Bill and Hillary Clinton stand in the driveway of their new home in Chappaqua, N.Y. A U.S. official says a “functional explosive device” was found at Hillary and Bill Clinton’s suburban New York home. (AP Photo, File)

Just Posted

Kelowna General Hospital (File photo)
One of two Kelowna General Hospital COVID-19 outbreaks declared over

One outbreak declared over after two deaths, seven cases; another outbreak remains ongoing in the hospital

The current B.C. Men’s curling champions, Rick Sawatsky (Vernon and now living and working in Kelowna, from left), Andrew Nerpin (Kelowna), Jim Cotter (Vernon) and Steve Laycock (Saskatoon), have yet to find the win column at the 2021 Tim Hortons Brier in Calgary. (Black Press - file photo)
B.C. looking for Brier victory

Team B.C. falls to 0-2 Sunday, March 7, with 10-7 loss to Wild Card 1 entry from Manitoba

Cottonwoods Care Home in Kelowna. (Google Maps)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Kelowna care home after 12 cases noted

Two staff members and 10 residents at Cottonwoods Care Centre have tested positive for COVID-19

Kelowna’s Trinity Church will serve as one of the Central Okanagan’s three COVID-19 vaccination clinics. (Trinity Church Kelowna/Instagram)
Three COVID-19 vaccination clinics to open in the Central Okanagan

The first will open at Kelowna’s Trinity Church on March 15

Five Kelowna writers are featured in an anthology that launched in time for International Women's Day. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
International Women’s Day: Book exploring fears features Kelowna writers

The book has launched in time for International Women’s Day

A woman walks through Toronto’s financial district on Monday, July 30, 2018. A new poll suggests most Canadians believe there’s still a long way to go to achieve gender equality in this country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Canadians, especially women, say gender equality not achieved in Canada: Poll

Poll results themselves underscore the challenge, with more men believing equality had been achieved

This image provided by Harpo Productions shows Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, left, in conversation with Oprah Winfrey. (Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions via AP)
Race, title and anguish: Meghan and Harry explain royal rift

Meghan said she struggled with concerns within the royal family about her son’s skin colour

Const. Allan Young. Photo: Abbotsford Police Department
Manslaughter charge laid in Nelson death of Abbotsford police officer

Allan Young died after an incident in downtown Nelson last summer

Vernon’s Zach Anderson, who now resides in Perth, Australia, has raised awareness and more than $6,400 for the #SickNotWeak charity in regards to depression in honour of friend Justin Mitchell’s late father, Glenn, the former managing editor of the Morning Star. Anderson finished an event in Perth called 4 x 4 x 48, which meant running four miles every four hours for 48 hours. (Zach Anderson photo)
Okanagan runner completes grueling Aussie event in honour of friend’s father

Zach Anderson of Vernon raised funds and depression awareness in memory of former newspaper editor

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is administered to a personal support worker at the Ottawa Hospital on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020 in Ottawa. Doctors in Alberta have signed an open letter asking for prioritized vaccination of health-care staff who work directly with patients on dedicated COVID-19 units. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
COVID vaccines for seniors in B.C.: Here’s how to sign up

Seniors 90+, Indigenous seniors 65+ and Indigenous Elders can book starting March 8

There is no true picture of how many youth in Penticton are experiencing housing instability or true homelessness. The Foundry and the city of Penticton are trying to find that out.
How many youth are experiencing homelessness in Penticton?

Foundry Penticton and the City have partnered on a youth survey open until March 13

Chelsea Ishizuka was borned and raised in Penticton but has now moved to Japan. When she found out there was a popular restaurant there named after Penticton, she had to go check it out. Here she is with the owner (right). (Facebook)
Popular restaurant in Japan named after city of Penticton

A Pentictonite now living in Tokyo discovered the eatery and the history behind its name

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read