U.S. Capitol Police have removed several suspicious packages from the Hart and Russell Senate Office Buildings.
An email to Senate offices said, “The U.S. Capitol Police have removed the suspicious package from the Hart Senate Office Building and the envelopes from the third floors of the Hart and Russell Senate Office Buildings. The areas are now open.”
Earlier Wednesday, loudspeaker alerts announced the discovery of packages on the first and third floors of Hart, while an email to the Senate community notified offices that police were responding to “a suspicious envelope on the third floor of the Russell Senate Office Building.” The email directed “all staff and other personnel” to “avoid this area until further notice.” Other news organizations reported that the suspicious envelope was found in the office of Alabama Republican Sen. Richard C. Shelby.
CQ Roll Call has confirmed that at least one of the suspicious packages in Hart was also an envelope.
Gainer on Tuesday evening emphasized that the contaminated envelope addressed to Wicker never made it to the Capitol, which he attributed to the effectiveness of the strict mail processing protocols in place as well as the stellar professionalism of the mail handlers.
A little after 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Gainer sent another memo to staff to circulate among D.C. and state offices. Though he did not make mention of the events earlier in the day in Hart and Russell, he alluded to the incidents, instructing staffers not to accept any sealed envelopes delivered directly to them unless delivered by “a uniformed Senate Post Office employee or a government courier bearing a bona-fide government ID.”
He added that “due to the most recent ricin attack, mail delivery will not be available on Thursday, April 18 or Friday, April 19,” but said he expected operations to return to normal next week.
On Wednesday morning, authorities also announced that another letter suspected to contain ricin was intercepted en route to the White House.
The Associated Press reported Wednesday that both letters to Wicker and the White House contained this message: “To see a wrong and not expose it, is to become a silent partner to its continuance.” Both letters were signed, “I am KC and I approve this message,” according to The AP.
Meanwhile, the Saginaw, Michigan, office of Democratic Sen. Carl Levin received a “suspicious-looking letter.”
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.