Politics

Capitol Police Investigate Another Suspicious Package; Senate Staff Warned of Mail Threats

Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters was apparent intended target

Suspicious packages containing potential explosive devices have been sent to prominent Democrats, including Hillary and Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A Capitol Police explosive ordnance team was dispatched to a House of Representatives mail processing facility in Capitol Heights, Maryland, following a string of suspected explosive devices sent to prominent Democrats.

The package in question was addressed to California Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters

Since the anthrax attacks in 2001, mail for Congress has been sent to offsite facilities for screening. House and Senate mail is processed separately in two Maryland facilities. This means that mail can take anywhere from 10 to 14 days to reach its destination.

“Under no circumstances should anyone ever bring unopened mail or packages from outside the Senate into their offices,” said  a communication to Senate staff from the Sergeant-at-Arms Wednesday afternoon. 

“It is a violation of policy — and may be extremely dangerous — for any person to introduce any sealed mail item to the Senate office buildings or the Capitol, or to accept mail from anyone other than a uniformed Senate Post Office employee or a Government courier bearing an official Government ID,” said the email to Senate staff. 

Earlier Wednesday, suspicious packages were sent to the homes of the Clintons and Obamas and CNN’s New York headquarters. Democratic donor George Soros had a similar package sent to him this week. The packages sent to former President Barack Obama and the Clintons were intercepted by the Secret Service during routine mail screening procedures. The packages were identified to be potential explosive devices, according to a Secret Service statement.

New York officials described the devices sent to CNN as “pipe bomb” devices.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, former chairwoman for the Democratic National Committee, was sent a package that prompted evacuation and a police investigation in Sunrise, Florida. 

The package sent to Wasserman Schultz was addressed to former Attorney General Eric Holder, but was not delivered due to a problem with the address. Wasserman Schultz’s office was listed as the return address. The package was not delivered to Holder, but reached Wasserman Schultz’s office as a “return to sender.”

Wasserman Schultz didn’t attend a fundraiser for congressional candidate Donna Shalala in Coral Gables with Hillary Clinton as planned Wednesday.

At the fundraiser, the former secretary of State said, “Many of you and others across our country have asked after me and my family and I’m very grateful for that. We are fine thanks to the men and women of the Secret Service who intercepted the package addressed to us long before it made its way to our home.”

The packages will be transported to the FBI Laboratory in Quantico, Virginia for analysis, but the bureau is calling on the public to share any information they may have.

“This investigation is of the highest priority for the FBI. 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,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray in a statement. “We ask anyone who may have information to contact the FBI. Do not hesitate to call; no piece of information is too small to help us in this investigation.”

It is possible that additional packages were mailed to other locations, according to an FBI statement.

The Senate Sergeant-at-Arms reminded Capitol Hill staff about the dangers of suspicious packages Wednesday.
The Senate Sergeant-at-Arms reminded Capitol Hill staff about the dangers of suspicious packages Wednesday.

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.