Bombs sent to Trump critics Biden, De Niro as US manhunt intensifies
WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – The two bombs sent to former Vice President Joe Biden and a third to actor Robert De Niro on Thursday were similar to the devices intended for several other high-profile Democrats and critics of US President Donald Trump, authorities said.
None of the 10 devices exploded but authorities stepped up a manhunt for the serial bomber amid a contentious campaign season ahead of the Nov. 6 elections in which Trump’s Republicans will try to maintain majorities in the Senate and House of Representatives.
There has been no claim of responsibility and the FBI urged the public to report any tips and be vigilant.
Several of the eight people who were sent bombs have been regular targets of Trump’s harsh rhetoric and leading Democrats said the bombs were a dangerous outgrowth of an antagonistic political atmosphere created by the president.
Trump condemned the bombs but later blamed the media, his frequent foil, for much of the angry tone.
Trump and other Republicans have likened Democrats to an “angry mob,” citing protests at the confirmation hearing of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
The pipe bombs discovered on Wednesday were similar to the ones sent to Biden and De Niro, a federal official told Reuters. Authorities described the devices as crude while security experts said their goal may have been to create fear rather than to kill.
The FBI said on Thursday one of the two packages sent to Biden – who once said he would have fought Trump if they were in high school – was discovered at a mail facility in his home state of Delaware and the second at another location.
The device intended for De Niro, who received a loud ovation when he hurled an obscenity at Trump at the Tony Awards last June, was sent to one of his properties in New York City.
TRUMP BLAMES MEDIA
At a Wisconsin rally Wednesday night Trump, who has denounced news media organizations as an “enemy of the people,” called attention to “how nice I’m behaving tonight” but on Thursday morning he attacked the media.
“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 wrote. “It has gotten so bad and hateful that it is beyond description. Mainstream Media must clean up its act, FAST!”
All the people who were targeted, including former U.S. President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Eric Holder, who served as attorney general under Obama, are frequently maligned by right-wing critics.
Also sent packages were former CIA Director John Brennan, who had his security clearance withdrawn after frequently lambasting Trump, prominent Democratic Party donor George Soros and California Representative Maxine Waters, another outspoken Trump critic. Two packages were sent to Waters, who Trump has called “an extraordinarily low IQ person.”
Several politicians, including U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, described the package bombs as an act of terrorism.
“Someone is trying to intimidate. Someone is trying to quash voices in this country using violence,” De Blasio said. “I am confident that we will find the perpetrator or perpetrators.”
The CNN bureau in New York received a package addressed to Brennan, who has appeared as a CNN analyst, leading police to evacuate the Time Warner building in a busy Manhattan neighborhood near Central Park.