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Obamas, Clintons, Soros and CNN targeted with pipe bombs: officials

A police car sits outside the home of Bill and Hillary Clinton Wednesday in Chappaqua, N.Y. A U.S. official says a "functional explosive device" was found at the home. | WABC7, distributed by the Associated Press

Crude pipe bombs targeting Hillary Clinton, former President Barack Obama, liberal billionaire George Soros and CNN were intercepted Tuesday night and Wednesday in a rash of attacks aimed at prominent Democrats and a cable news network often criticized by political conservatives.

In addition, the FBI said Florida Rep. Deborah Wasserman Schultz also received a suspicious package, possibly misaddressed and then sent to her as the return addressee; another was found at the congressional mail facility intended for U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif. Whether those were pipe bombs similar to the others was unclear.

There were no explosions and no reports of injuries.

The bombs were intercepted two weeks before nationwide elections that could reshape Congress and serve as a referendum on the first two years of Donald Trump’s presidency. The events quickly overtook other campaign news in an already-tense political season, which has included pitched fights over immigration, the Supreme Court and sexual violence against women.

Speaking at the White House, Trump said “acts or threats of political violence have no place in the United States” and that “a major federal investigation” is now underway. “We’re extremely angry, upset, unhappy about what we witnessed this morning and we will get to the bottom of it.”

Law enforcement officials say the CNN package was discovered in the mail room. CNN reported it was addressed to former CIA Director John Brennan, who has appeared on CNN and been a tough critic of President Trump.

John Miller, chief of counterterrorism for the New York Police Department, said the devices were all crude pipe bombs, and the one sent to CNN appeared to be sent by the same person who mailed pipe bombs to Soros, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

New York City’s police commissioner said the CNN package contained what appeared to be a live explosive and an envelope containing white powder.

Miller said the string of attempted attacks started Monday night with the device sent to Soros. He says they’re looking at the devices as a pattern, and they have not made any arrests.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier Wednesday had said his office received a similar package, but New York police officials said the office had been cleared and no explosive device was found.

Law enforcement officials from the Broward Sheriff’s Office bomb squad and Sunrise Police and Fire Rescue at the scene where a suspicious package was found Wednesday inside the Sunrise (Fla.) Utility Administrative Center in Sunrise; Rep. Debbie Wasserman
Law enforcement officials from the Broward Sheriff’s Office bomb squad and Sunrise Police and Fire Rescue at the scene where a suspicious package was found Wednesday inside the Sunrise (Fla.) Utility Administrative Center in Sunrise; Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s office is inside. | Taimy Alvarez/South Florida Sun-Sentinel. distributed by the Associated Press via AP) ORG XMIT: FLLAU804

Another possible target is former Attorney General Eric Holder who was reportedly sent a suspicious package with the return address of Wasserman Schultz, an ironic reference to the former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee. Holder’s address was wrong on the package, and the package was sent to the congresswoman’s office.

A bomb squad robot was being used in the investigation of that suspicious package.

A U.S. official told The Associated Press that investigators believe the explosive discovered near the Clintons’ home in Chappaqua, New York, is linked to one found Monday at the compound of Soros, a major contributor to Democratic causes.

The official wasn’t authorized to publicly discuss an ongoing investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Secret Service uniformed officers talk at a checkpoint near the home of former President Barack Obama on Wednesday in Washington. The U.S. Secret Service says agents have intercepted packages containing “possible explosive devices” addressed to former Pre
Secret Service uniformed officers talk at a checkpoint near the home of former President Barack Obama on Wednesday in Washington. The U.S. Secret Service says agents have intercepted packages containing “possible explosive devices” addressed to former President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. | Alex Brandon/Associated Press

The package addressed to Obama was intercepted Wednesday by Secret Service agents in Washington.

Neither Clinton nor Obama received the packages, and neither was at risk of receiving them because of screening procedures, the Secret Service said in a statement.

The device at the Clinton’s home was discovered early Wednesday morning in Chappaqua, New York.

The official wasn’t authorized to publicly discuss an ongoing investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Police in New Castle, New York — who cover Chappaqua — say they assisted the FBI, Secret Service and Westchester County authorities in “the investigation of a suspicious package.”

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., is shown in 2016 at a campaign rally in Miami. Florida police said Wednesday they were investigating a suspicious package near the congresswoman’s Florida office hours after authorities intercepted potential exp
U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., is shown in 2016 at a campaign rally in Miami. Florida police said Wednesday they were investigating a suspicious package near the congresswoman’s Florida office hours after authorities intercepted potential explosives intended for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Images shared on Twitter by local media showed a bomb squad unit heading to her building in the south Florida town of Sunrise. | Gaston de Cardenas/AFP/Getty Images

Hillary Clinton was attending campaign events for Democrats in Florida on Tuesday and Wednesday and was not at the family’s New York residence at the time. She is headlining a fundraising reception Wednesday for former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala, who is running for Congress in South Florida. She spoke briefly to reporters, declaring: “We are fine.”

Bill Clinton was at home when the package was intercepted at a Westchester County facility, said a person familiar with his schedule. The person said the device was screened at the facility — not in proximity to their residence — and never reached the Clintons’ home.

A law enforcement official told The Associated Press that the package discovered at Soros’ home appeared to be a pipe bomb and was in a package placed in a mailbox outside the gates of the compound. A Soros employee opened it just inside the gates, not near Soros’ quarters, the official said.

Video by Ashlee Rezin | Mayor Rahm Emanuel speaks during a press conference at the city's 11th District police station, Wednesda

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who served in the White House for both Clinton and Obama, thanked law enforcement for “preventing something horrific from happening.”

Emanuel urged those in power “to use that power responsibly,” and lamented the political climate that had brought us to this point.

“I think all of us know, and history says, is that when you stoke up dark forces and divisive forces, you unleash something you cannot control,” Emanuel said. “All of us in public life have a role … in speaking to the better angels of human nature.”

The White House issued a statement saying “these terrorizing acts are despicable.”

The home of former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama in Washington. The Secret Service says a package identified as ‘potential explosive device’ was sent to this home. | Associated Press
The home of former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama in Washington. The Secret Service says a package identified as ‘potential explosive device’ was sent to this home. | Associated Press

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement Wednesday: “These terrorizing acts are despicable, and anyone responsible will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”

She added: “The United States Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies are investigating and will take all appropriate actions to protect anyone threatened by these cowards.”

Vice President Mike Pence also tweeted condemnation: “These cowardly actions are despicable & have no place in this Country. … Those responsible will be brought to justice.”

In addition to the official White House statement, President Donald Trump retweeted Pence about 45 minutes later, adding: “I agree wholeheartedly!”

Illinois Rep. Jan Schakowsky said “no one should live in terror.”

“I am grateful to the brave law enforcement authorities who protected the lives of individuals targeted by bombs sent to their homes. I hope that the individuals responsible for targeting news bureaus, private citizens and former elected officials are caught immediately and held accountable. While we do not know who is behind the current terrorist actions, hateful language, name-calling and rhetorical targeting of the media and public officials help raise tensions, tempers and divisions. Ending that behavior is a necessary first step to restoring an atmosphere in which political and policy differences can be voiced without running the risk of violence,” she said.

Police stand outside the Time Warner Building on Wednesday. A suspected explosive device was found in the building after it was delivered to CNN’s New York bureau. | Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images
Police stand outside the Time Warner Building on Wednesday. A suspected explosive device was found in the building after it was delivered to CNN’s New York bureau. | Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

RELATED: Bomb found at philanthropist George Soros’ suburban home

Sun-Times multimedia journalist Ashlee Rezin contributed to this report.