Biden, Robert De Niro Targeted In Wave Of Suspect Packages Aimed At Trump Critics

Updated at 2:44 p.m. ET

The investigation into a wave of homemade pipe bombs addressed to political enemies of President Trump expanded Thursday with the discovery of more suspicious packages in New York and Delaware.

The tally found nationwide increased to 10.

The FBI said two suspicious packages were discovered in Delaware on Thursday morning addressed to former Vice President Joe Biden, while a third was found in New York City addressed to the actor Robert De Niro.

The new items were “similar in appearance” to seven packages already discovered this week that had been sent to six other high-profile critics of President Trump, including former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the FBI said.

The packages, which have contained potential explosive devices described by officials as pipe bombs, have sent jitters across the country and prompted calls from Republicans and Democrats for a cooling of political rhetoric.

The latest targets

In Delaware, officials were alerted early Thursday morning to a suspicious package addressed to Biden and discovered at a mail facility in New Castle County, a law enforcement official said.

A second suspicious envelope was found a few hours later at another mail facility in Wilmington, Del., according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

In New York, meanwhile, police said a suspicious package was discovered in the Tribeca area of Manhattan in the early hours of Thursday morning. That package contained a device similar to one recovered from the offices of CNN on Wednesday.

The package was found “at the business residence of Robert De Niro,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told NPR’s David Greene. The Tribeca Grill, one of De Niro’s restaurants, is at the corner of Greenwich and Franklin streets.

The New York City Police Department says the package was reported around 4 a.m. in the area of Greenwich and Franklin streets in Tribeca. The police bomb squad responded, and it was “removed from the location,” the NYPD says.

De Niro has been an outspoken critic of Trump, including in an expletive-laced speech at this year’s Tony Awards. Trump shot back at him on Twitter.

The trail

Suspicious packages also were sent to former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Others were addressed to former CIA Director John Brennan in care of CNN in New York; one to former Attorney General Eric Holder and two to Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif. The first package was reported on Monday at a residence of billionaire investor George Soros, who is an active supporter of Democratic causes.

The package addressed to Holder did not reach him at his law firm in Washington D.C.; instead it was rerouted to the return address affixed on the envelope — that of Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Wasserman Schultz’s office was evacuated when the envelope arrived on Wednesday. She said she was “deeply disturbed by the way my name was used.”

Cuomo said the two suspicious devices found in New York City shouldn’t stop people from going about their business as normal.

“Don’t let the terrorists win,” he said. “There’s no reason to be afraid.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on Thursday that “across the administration, we condemn the actions that led to these activities in the strongest possible terms and are determined to make sure that we get to the bottom of it and justice is done.”

The hunt

Investigators are now working in New York and other cities, within the postal system, and at the federal level, to determine who sent the packages — and why.

The Secret Service has said suspicious packages were addressed to Clinton in Westchester County, N.Y., and to Obama’s residence in Washington, D.C.; those packages contained explosive devices that were similar to one that was found on Monday at the home of George Soros — a frequent contributor to Democratic and progressive causes.

An explosive ordnance disposal team destroyed the package sent to Soros through a controlled detonation. Officials say investigators are analyzing the materials from that effort.

Anthony May, a former bomb technician for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, told NPR that judging by the X-ray photos of the device that was found at CNN, he said he has concerns about “some possible hazardous material” inside the pipe — but “there are also some items that should be there that aren’t there.”

Specifically, he said, the X-ray shows only one set of batteries for the timer. That isn’t enough.

“There would need to be a second set of batteries or another power source within that device to function the switch causing the device to explode,” May said. “I’m not seeing that second power source.”

Trump was briefed on the investigation Wednesday at the White House. He said the inquiry into the packages will have whatever resources are needed, and FBI Director Christopher Wray has pledged that the bureau will not rest until the culprits are caught.

The suspicious devices are on their way to the FBI’s crime lab in Quantico, Va.

“This investigation is of the highest priority for the FBI,” Wray said. “We have committed the full strength of the FBI’s resources and, together with our partners on our Joint Terrorism Task Forces, we will continue to work to identify and arrest whoever is responsible for sending these packages.”

But the FBI also has acknowledged that more suspicious packages may still be working their way through the mail and there is no way to know now how many there might ultimately be.

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