National Security

The 13 targets in string of attempted pipe bomb attacks

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Friday that a suspect was arrested and charged with federal crimes in connection with the rash of suspicious packages apparently containing explosives that were sent to high-level Democratic figures and CNN this week. 

The suspect, Cesar Sayoc Jr. was charged with five federal crimes for sending the explosive devices to more than a dozen Democratic political figures, celebrities and news organizations. The charges include interstate transportation of an explosive, illegal mailing of explosives, threats against former presidents and other persons, threatening interstate commerce and assaulting federal officers. 

{mosads}Each of the intended recipients are frequent targets of criticism from conservatives, including President Trump himself. 

The packages have been described as manila envelopes containing crude pipe bombs. None of them detonated before authorities responded.

Here’s who has been targeted so far: 

George Soros 

A suspicious package was discovered on Monday at the billionaire philanthropist’s home in Bedford, N.Y.

Authorities say an employee found a package in a mailbox that appeared to contain an explosive device. The employee contacted police, who “proactively detonated” the device. Soros was not home at the time. 

Soros has long been a central figure in far-right conspiracy theories that accuse him of manipulating the world economy, the “fake news” media and the Democratic Party as a whole. Right-wing detractors paint him as a Democratic mastermind funneling dark money into immoral causes. 

The attacks against him have often been described as anti-Semitic, as his donations are framed as an example of Jews exerting undue influence in politics and media. 

Soros’s son, Alexander, wrote in an op-ed for The New York Times on Wednesday that his father has faced “plenty of attacks” for his work with pro-democracy groups, liberal causes and Democratic candidates, but that the rhetoric escalated after Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016.

Hillary and Bill Clinton 

The Secret Service said it intercepted a package Tuesday night containing an explosive device addressed to former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at a screening facility before it reached the home she shares with former President Clinton in Westchester County, N.Y. 

The former president was home at the time of the incident.  

Hillary Clinton responded to the attempted attack at a campaign event in Florida on Wednesday. 

“It is a troubling time, isn’t it?” she asked. “It’s a time of deep divisions and we have to do everything we can to bring our country together.”  

She thanked the Secret Service.

Right-wing activists and GOP leaders to this day rehash the 2016 presidential election, demonizing Hillary Clinton’s conduct and criticizing her recent steps back into the spotlight. Trump as recently as last month accused her of “collusion” with the Russians, deflecting allegations that his campaign coordinated with Russian operatives. 

Crowds at Trump’s rallies frequently chant “lock her up,” a rallying cry during the 2016 election from those who sought to frame Hillary Clinton as a criminal. 

She stands in as a bogeyman representing corrupt Democratic establishment politics in the eyes of many on the right.  

Former Attorney General Eric Holder


The suspicious package that forced an evacuation at Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s (D) office in Sunrise, Fla., was intended for former Attorney General Eric Holder. 

The package, which contained an explosive, was initially sent to Holder, but had the wrong address. The package listed Wasserman-Schultz’s office as its return address. 

Holder, a former Obama official and outspoken critic of the Trump administration, drew the ire of conservatives last week when he said, “When [Republicans] go low, we kick them.” Holder later said he was speaking metaphorically.

“I wasn’t advocating violence, obviously,” he said on CNN. 

Republicans denounced Holder’s comments as an example of Democratic incivility toward Republicans. 

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.)

Wasserman Schultz’s office address in Sunrise was listed as the return address on a number of suspicious packages sent out this week. Authorities intercepted the package addressed to Holder outside of her Sunrise office. 

Her office in Aventura, Fla., was also evacuated. 

“We will not be intimidated by this attempted act of violence,” the former Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairwoman said in a statement later. “This appalling attack on our democracy must be vigorously prosecuted, and I am deeply disturbed by the way my name was used.” 

Wasserman Schultz was a highly visible ally of Hillary Clinton during the former secretary of State’s run for president. The Florida representative’s contentious relationship with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) during the 2016 presidential primaries led to her stepping down as the head of the DNC.

She is widely seen as a divisive figure in the Democratic Party. 

“Today, my staff and I will hug each other and our loved ones tightly, and tomorrow get back to work serving the people I was elected to represent,” she wrote in the statement. 



A package containing an explosive and suspicious powder was found Wednesday morning in the mailroom of the Time Warner Center in New York City, where CNN is headquartered. The package was addressed to former CIA Director John Brennan, who has appeared on the network.

The building was promptly evacuated. CNN anchors continued to broadcast from the street for over an hour.  

A pipe bomb in the package reportedly featured a parodied image of the ISIS flag. The image, which has been circulating the right-wing Internet for years, replaces Arabic characters on the flag of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria terror group, with an inscription reading “Get ‘Er Done.” 

“Get ‘Er Done” was the catchphrase of right-wing figure and comedian Larry the Cable Guy. 

Trump frequently calls CNN “fake news,” invoking its name as he riles up anti-media sentiment at his rallies. 

He has refused to take questions from CNN’s Jim Acosta, saying he does not answer to “fake news,” and Trump aides have barred CNN reporters from attending press events.

Trump and his supporters bash CNN as the “enemy of the people” and “dishonest.”

CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker after the attempted bombing on Wednesday tore into Trump and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders for their attacks on the press. 

“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 in a statement. “Words matter.”

Former CIA Director John Brennan


The pipe bomb sent to CNN was addressed to Brennan, a former CIA director and outspoken Trump critic. 

Trump in August revoked Brennan’s security clearance in a move that was widely viewed as an effort to retaliate against a vocal critic of the administration. 

Brennan regularly bashes Trump on Twitter as an undemocratic egoist whose conduct endangers the country’s national security. 

Brennan at an event on Wednesday blamed Trump’s rhetoric for the string of suspicious packages.

“Unfortunately … [Trump’s] rhetoric too frequently, I think, fuels these feelings and sentiments that now are bleeding over into, potentially, acts of violence,” Brennan said during a Q&A at the University of Texas at Austin. “I think one can make an argument that it has emboldened individuals to take matters into their own hands.” 

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) 

Suspicious packages intended for Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) were intercepted at mail-screening facilities in Maryland and Los Angeles on Wednesday. The first package was discovered by Capitol Police at a congressional mail facility earlier in the day, and a second was identified in California that evening.

Neither package reached their intended destination. 

“We have to keep doing what we’re doing in order to make this country right; that’s what I intend to do, and as the young people say, ‘I ain’t scared,’” Waters told Blavity on Thursday

Trump at public events calls Waters a “low-IQ individual” and “the new leader of the Democratic Party,” a comment that incites groans and boos from his supporters at rallies.

Republicans often point to Waters as an example of Democrats who call for violence against Republicans, citing comments she made over the summer encouraging supporters to confront Trump administration officials in public spaces. 

She defends those remarks as a call for nonviolent protest.

Waters does not hold back in her pointed criticism of the president, calling for his impeachment. 

She has been forced to cancel public events multiple times in the past few months due to threats of death and violence. 

Former President Obama 

A package containing a possible explosive bomb intended for former President Obama was intercepted by the Secret Service at a screening facility in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.  

“The packages were immediately identified during routine mail screening procedures as potential explosive devices and were appropriately handled as such,” the Secret Service said in a statement. “The protectees did not receive the packages nor were they at risk of receiving them.”

After a year of relative silence, Obama and his wife, Michelle, have stepped back into the limelight, touring across the country ahead of the midterm elections. He has been criticizing Trump’s falsehoods and extreme rhetoric. 

Trump infamously gave rise to the “birtherism” theory, which falsely claimed Obama was not born in the U.S. 

Actor Robert De Niro 


Authorities, at approximately 4 a.m. on Thursday morning, intercepted a suspicious package sent to actor Robert De Niro. Police were responding to a call from an employee who reached out after seeing news reports about the other pipe bombs. He said he had seen a suspicious package a day or two earlier. 

The package was found at 375 Greenwich St. in Manhattan, a building that holds the offices of De Niro’s Tribeca Film Center and restaurant Tribeca Grill.  

De Niro received a standing ovation for repeatedly declaring “f— Trump” on stage during the 2018 Tony Awards. He once said he would like to “punch” Trump “in the face.” 

Former Vice President Joe Biden

Authorities on Thursday morning intercepted two suspicious packages addressed to former Vice President Joe Biden. One was discovered at a postal facility in New Castle, Del., while the other was found at a postal facility in Wilmington, Del., authorities said.  

Law enforcement began searching for a package addressed to Biden on Wednesday night.  

Biden, a Democrat who has openly criticized Trump for months, is a possible 2020 presidential contender. 

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.)

Law enforcement authorities intercepted a suspicious package addressed to Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) in Sacramento on Friday.

A Harris aide told The Hill “our office was informed that a suspicious package was addressed to the Senator similar to those that have been sent to other elected officials.” The package sent to Harris was confirmed by the FBI late Friday to be the 13th suspicious package sent through the mail this week.  

Harris has been a vocal critic of Trump’s and is considered to be one of many possible Democratic challengers to the president in the 2020 race. 

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.)

A device addressed to Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) was intercepted by authorities at a mailing facility in Opa-Locka, Fla., on Friday. 

Booker, a frequent critic of the president’s, is also considered a possible Democratic challenger to Trump in the 2020 presidential race.

Booker took to Twitter to thank law enforcement for their efforts and to express that such threats would not silence or intimidate him or other Americans.

“Grateful for law enforcement’s work to bring those responsible to justice & for their vigilance to keep Americans safe,” he wrote. “Cowardly acts of terror will never silence or intimidate Americans—they will only strengthen our resolve to stand against fear & hatred.” 

Former director of National Intelligence James Clapper

A suspicious packaged addressed to former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was also intercepted Friday in a New York City facility.

CNN reported that the device was addressed to be delivered to Clapper at their Manhattan offices, where Clapper is a network contributor.

Clapper is another frequent critic of Trump’s. Earlier this year, Trump floated the idea of revoking Clapper’s security clearance.

“I think anyone who has in any way publicly been a critic of President Trump needs to be on extra alert and take precautions with respect to mail,” Clapper said, following the package’s discovery. “At the same time we shouldn’t get too overblown about it, to overwrought about it … at this point. I have a lot of confidence in all the law enforcement elements involved in this.”

— Updated Oct. 27, 12:30 p.m.

Tags Bernie Sanders Bill Clinton Bomb scare Cory Booker Debbie Wasserman Schultz Democrats Donald Trump Eric Holder Hillary Clinton James Clapper Jeff Sessions Joe Biden John Brennan Maxine Waters pipe bombs suspicious package

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