Manhunt ramps up for package bomber amid more scares, including at Feinstein office

Nationwide manhunt underway: Who mailed the bombs?

NEW YORK (AP/RNN) - The manhunt for a person who sent suspected package explosives to high-profile Democrats and liberal figures all around the country focused on South Florida on Thursday night as more scares emerged.

Late Thursday night a suspicious package was found at the Los Angeles office of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, but was quickly determined to be safe, KCAL reported.

A mail clerk in the building had called police after seeing that “Santa Monica” was misspelled on the package, which turned out to be a manila envelope with a CD inside.

Packages containing pipe bombs sent to prominent Democrats and CNN this week have had misspellings on the addresses, so the clerk thought the “Santa Monica” misspelling could have meant another explosive.

The Time Warner Center was also evacuated Thursday evening, over unattended packages in the mall section of the building, which also houses CNN, a day after it was the site of a previous evacuation over a suspected explosive sent to the news network.

Those packages were cleared by the NYPD shortly after.

Meanwhile, police in Miami were assisting federal authorities in a search of a mail facility there that they believe may have been where some of the packages originated.

The packages, which have all contained suspected explosives, have been intercepted after being sent to high-profile Democratic and liberal figures, including some found early Thursday targeting former Vice President Joe Biden and actor Robert De Niro.

In New York, for the second day in a row CNN journalists and others at the Columbus Circle development reported from the scene of an evacuation as law enforcement exercised caution in a moment of high tensions.

Earlier Thursday during a news conference, John Miller, Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism for the New York Police Department, said officials don’t know if there are more packages out there, fearing there are some that have not yet arrived at their targets.

Officials said the white powder included in some of the packages, including the one sent to CNN, was not biological.

Two packages, which were discovered Thursday and addressed to Biden, appeared to match others sent to targets. At least one was sent to an address in Wilmington, DE, but officials discovered them at post offices in Wilmington and New Castle.

A package, addressed to De Niro at Tribeca Productions in New York, was delivered Wednesday and reported to authorities early in the morning Thursday. It reportedly made it into the seventh floor of the building. The NYPD bomb squad removed it from the scene.

De Niro has been a vocal critic of President Donald Trump.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio confirmed that an explosive device was found in the package at De Niro’s office, but that it was removed from the office successfully and without injury.

All devices are being sent to the FBI for examination, and all are being treated as potentially explosive devices.

The New York mayor credited a “quick-witted” security guard for acting fast upon discovery of the package.

“This is clearly an effort to terrorize people politically,” de Blasio said of the devices.

He called the pattern of the similar-looking packages “extraordinarily consistent,” but urged people everywhere to be aware of weird-looking packages, even those that may not strictly follow the pattern of these devices.

Manhunt ramps up to find package bomber

The device is being examined at an NYPD facility in the Bronx, de Blasio said.

Authorities said the package appears identical to the ones discovered Wednesday, which were sent to former President Barack Obama and presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, among others.

The packages may contain explosive devices, and like the previous packages, included the return address of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, with her name misspelled.

Is bomber an amateur, or just wants us to think that?

The Delaware mail facility where the parcel to Biden was found was evacuated at 6 a.m., and the FBI has taken over the investigation at New Castle County, WPVI reported.

The discovery of pipe bombs targeting prominent Democratic politicians and CNN is raising the threat of election-season violence largely unknown in the U.S. - and prompting uncomfortable questions about the consequences of leaders' increasingly vitriolic rhetoric.

The list of potential bombing victims reads like a list of Trump’s most notable critics or targets of his rhetoric. They include his presidential race opponent, a former president, a former CIA director, a congresswoman, the governor of his home state, a former attorney general, an outspoken actor and a liberal philanthropist who’s the go-to mark for right-wing conspiracy theories.

Even as the bomb squad was at work in New York Thursday morning, Trump took to Twitter to blame the media for the anger in the nation for what he called “purposely false and inaccurate reporting.” He offered no evidence to back his claims.

One of the victims, former CIA Director John Brennan, responded to Trump, saying in part, “Stop blaming others. Look in the mirror.”

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders pushed back against assertions that the president was in any way culpable for the bombing attempts.

“The president is certainly not responsible for sending suspicious packages to someone no more than Bernie Sanders was responsible for a supporter of his shooting up a Republican baseball field practice last year,” she said.

Sanders referred to the shooting that badly injured Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana and others. The man who carried out the shooting, James Hodgkinson, carried out the attack on the team because of their political views, his social media suggested.

Coming two weeks before midterm elections, the thwarted attacks Wednesday and Thursday caused renewed soul-searching - and finger pointing - about whether Trump has fanned passions to dangerous levels. Democrats swiftly pointed to his remarks seeming to condone violence against reporters and belittling political opponents, including some apparently targeted by the devices. Trump decried all political violence and issued a broad call for unity.

Some voters expressed concern the country was spiraling into new territory.

"It almost seems like we're in the middle of a civil war without the shots being fired," said Bobby Dietzel, a 45-year-old information technology worker from Kansas City who is registered with neither party. From a Denver coffee shop, he said he watched the political conflict with alarm. "It's almost scary to talk politics with people."

Suspicious package sent to Robert De Niro's office

Law enforcement officials did not comment on the possible motives behind the crimes or whether political ideology may have played a role.

The thwarted attacks — revealed in rapid succession Wednesday — added volatility to midterm elections poised to be a referendum on Trump's tumultuous two years in office.

Long before the explosives were discovered, violent rhetoric had emerged as a central theme in the closing days of the midterm elections, particularly for the GOP. Republicans derided protesters for disrupting GOP lawmakers or Trump officials at restaurants or other public places. While campaigning, Trump and leading Republican candidates have increasingly warned of a rising Democratic "mob" prepared to inflict physical harm upon its adversaries.

But even some Trump allies saw the events of Wednesday as a moment for reflection and urged Trump to tone it down.

“You’ve got to calm it down,” said Anthony Scaramucci, a prominent Trump supporter who briefly worked in his administration. “The president has grown in the job. He now has to take another transcendental step and realize that he’s got to dial down the rhetoric.”

On the other end of the political spectrum, de Blasio, a Democrat, offered a message to “all public officials of all partisan affiliations.” '

'Don’t encourage violence," he said. “Don’t encourage hatred. Don’t encourage attacks on media.”

De Blasio added: "That has to start at the top."

President Donald Trump gestures as he leaves the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018, to attend a campaign rally in Mosinee, Wis. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
President Donald Trump gestures as he leaves the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018, to attend a campaign rally in Mosinee, Wis. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) (AP)

The White House’s political arm, the Republican National Committee, released a video less than two weeks ago titled, “The Left: An Unhinged Mob,” which featured liberal protesters banging on doors backed by aggressive rhetoric from several prominent Democrats, including Rep. Maxine Waters of California and Hillary Clinton.

Waters in June called on supporters to harass Trump’s cabinet members in public. She received packages in Washington, DC, and at her office in California.

Clinton this month said: “You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about.”

Attorney General Eric Holder also was targeted with explosive devices, authorities said Wednesday. The New York offices of CNN, the cable network frequently attacked by Trump and his supporters, was evacuated after receiving an explosive device and an envelope containing white powder addressed to Brennan.

Billionaire Democrat George Soros, a regular focus of conservative conspiracy theories, was targeted on Monday.

Mayor Bill de Blasio looks on as Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivers remarks during a news conference after NYPD personnel removed an explosive device from Time Warner Center Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018, in New York. The U.S. Secret Service says agents have intercepted packages containing "possible explosive devices" addressed to former President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen).
Mayor Bill de Blasio looks on as Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivers remarks during a news conference after NYPD personnel removed an explosive device from Time Warner Center Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018, in New York. The U.S. Secret Service says agents have intercepted packages containing "possible explosive devices" addressed to former President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen). (AP)

In a written statement, CNN President Jeff Zucker decried what he called "a total and complete lack of understanding at the White House about the seriousness of their continued attacks on the media."

Trump offered a somewhat conciliatory message during a Wednesday evening political appearance in Wisconsin.

"There is one way to settle our agreements. It's called peacefully at the ballot box," Trump said while reading from the teleprompter. He later described Wisconsin's Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin as a "radical far-left" socialist and said "our country is assaulted" by a caravan of thousands of Latin American immigrants, still about 1,000 miles away.

The president is expected to continue an aggressive campaign schedule in the midterm season's final days.

For virtually his entire political career, Trump has embraced inflammatory and often deeply personal attacks against his opponents. He repeatedly encouraged supporters to physically attack liberal protesters during the campaign, offering to pay for their legal bills. He regularly calls media outlets such as CNN "the enemy of the people."

Yet the rhetoric has sometimes turned darker in recent weeks.

"The Democrats are willing to do anything, to hurt anyone, to get the power they so desperately crave," Trump declared at a Minnesota rally this month. "They want to resist, they want to obstruct, they want to delay, demolish. They want to destroy."

He warned this week, without proof, that terrorists had infiltrated a caravan of Central American immigrants headed toward the U.S. border. He also praised a Republican congressman from Montana for body slamming a reporter.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate crimes, believes there is no "moral equivalence" between the violent rhetoric of the two parties, according to Heidi Beirich, the head of the organization's Intelligence Project.

Officers watch over the scene outside the Time Warner Center on Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018, in New York. Law enforcement officials say a suspicious package that prompted an evacuation of CNN's offices is believed to contain a pipe bomb. (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen)
Officers watch over the scene outside the Time Warner Center on Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018, in New York. Law enforcement officials say a suspicious package that prompted an evacuation of CNN's offices is believed to contain a pipe bomb. (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen) (AP)

"The fact of the matter is that the people who have received these bombs — the Clintons, Obama and George Soros — have been horrifically demonized by the right. Not just in terms of neo-Nazis, but also from people like Donald Trump," Beirich said. "There tends to be a relationship between demonizing rhetoric and violence."

Yet Republican voters across the country are equally convinced that Democrats pose the real threat. And Republican candidates are going out of their way to reinforce that message.

At a weekend campaign appearance at a Florida retirement community, GOP gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis attacked Waters and Holder by name for calling on Democrats to harass Republicans. He also recalled the 2017 Capitol Hill shooting that left several wounded, including Republican Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana.

How law enforcement tracks mail bombers

"We don't want the state of Florida to be the petri dish of George Soros and the radical left," DeSantis charged. "You look at the stuff that's going on with these mobs and the violence that they're doing."

Clinton, speaking at a Florida fundraiser for congressional candidate Donna Shalala, thanked the U.S. Secret Service for intercepting the package before it reached her suburban New York City home. But she called it a "troubling time" and a "time of deep divisions, and we have to do everything we can to bring our country together."

Voters in key midterm battlegrounds are fed up and frightened.

Ariana Hendricks, a 40-year-old massage therapist in Denver, said violence in politics has always been something people thought about.

But because of Trump, she said, “Now they think it’s OK.”

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Thomas reported from Washington. AP writers Nick Riccardi in Denver, Thomas Beaumont in Des Moines, Iowa, Matthew Daly in Washington and Bill Barrow in Atlanta contributed to this report.

Copyright 2018 Associated Press. All rights reserved. Raycom News Network contributed to this report.