‘Suspicious package’ seized from Robert De Niro-linked building

The incident comes a day after crude bombs were sent to Trump critics across the country, including ex-president Obama.

Police are pictured outside the Time Warner Center in the Manahattan borough of New York City after a suspicious package was found inside the CNN Headquarters in New York, U.S., October 24, 2018. REUT
Police outside the Time Warner Center in New York after a suspicious package was found in the mailroom of the building where CNN headquarters is located [Kevin Coombs/Reuters]

New York police have removed a suspicious package from a building associated with actor and director Robert De Niro, a vocal critic of US President Donald Trump.

The package was removed from 375 Greenwich Street in Manhattan, an address that matches the Tribeca Film Center and Tribeca Grill Restaurant, CNN reported. De Niro is the owner of the restaurant and founder of the Tribeca Film Festival.

De Niro has publicly criticised Trump over the past year. The actor-director hurled profanities at the president in June at the Tony Awards ceremony. 

“It’s no longer ‘Down with Trump,’ it’s ‘f**k Trump'”, De Niro said.

The package’s removal comes a day after at least seven suspicious packages sent to Trump critics, including former President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former CIA Director John Brennan, CNN’s New York offices, former Vice President Joe Biden and Hungarian-American liberal philanthropist George Soros, were intercepted by authorities.

All the packages were removed and there were no reports of injuries.

The US Secret Service said it recovered a single package addressed to Clinton in Westchester, a suburb north of Manhattan late on Tuesday.

A second package, addressed to Obama, was found early on Wednesday in Washington, DC.

“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,” it said.

The US Secret Service launched an investigation to find the source of the packages.

Hillary Clinton was not at her New York home when Tuesday’s package was sent, but her husband, former President Bill Clinton was present, officials told the Associated Press.

The former secretary of state said “we are fine” at a Florida fundraiser.

CNN evacuated

The New York Police Department (NYPD) also responded to a suspicious device, believed to be a pipe bomb, found at the Time Warner Center, where CNN’s New York newsroom is based.

Suspicious packages found in last week:

George Soros: An explosive device was found in the mailbox outside the philanthropist’s New York home on Monday. 

Hillary Clinton: Authorities intercepted a suspicious device sent to Clinton’s suburban New York home late on Tuesday. 

Barack Obama: Authorities intercepted a suspicious device sent to Obama’s Washington, DC, home early on Wednesday. 

CNN New York office: A suspicious package, addressed to former CIA Director John Brennan, was found in the mailroom of the Time Warner Center, home to CNN’s New York office on Wednesday.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz: A suspicious package was found on Wednesday in the building where Florida Congresswoman Schultz’s office is located. CNN reported the package was meant for former US Attorney General Eric Holder. 

Maxine Waters: The US representative said in a statement that Capitol Police informed her that her Washington, DC, office was a target of a suspicious package on Monday.

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

The package was addressed to former CIA Director John Brennan, CNN reported, citing city and local law enforcement officials. Brennan appears on other cable and broadcast networks. 

According to the NYPD’s chief of counterterrorism, the explosive appeared to be sent by the same person who mailed suspicious packages to the Clinton and Obama homes, as well as the device found on Monday at the home of billionaire philanthropist George Soros

FBI officials said at a news conference that the devices appeared to be crude pipe bombs. 

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the attempted attacks were “clearly an act of terrorism”.

The news organisation’s New York staff were evacuated. 

CNN has been a repeated target of Trump’s attacks, with the US president often labelling the network as “fake news”.

CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker called out Trump, saying the “president, and especially the White House press secretary, should understand their words matter. Thus far, they have shown no comprehension of that,” he said. 

Police are also investigating a suspicious package sent to a building where the office of Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is located.

Democratic Representative Maxine Waters said in a statement on Wednesday that US Capitol Police said that her Washington, DC, office was the target of a suspicious package that was referred to the FBI. It’s unclear whether the package was related to those sent to Clinton, Obama and the CNN New York office. 

‘These terrorising acts are despicable’

The White House condemned the attempted attacks, saying “terrorising acts are despicable, and anyone responsible will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law”.

The US president said that “acts or threats of political violence have no place in the United States”, adding that a “major federal investigation” is under way. 

Still, as news broke of the suspicious package at the De Niro-linked building, Trump tweeted that the media must “clean up its act, FAST!”

Democrats hoping to make gains in midterm elections have called Trump out for his rhetoric.

“Time and time again, the president has condoned physical violence and divided Americans with his words and his actions,” Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and House of Representatives top Democrat Nancy Pelosi said in a statement on Wednesday.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies