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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 17 November 2018

FBI investigates 10 explosive packages mailed to Trump critics

Trump launches tirade against media as authorities search for clues in “domestic terrorism” mail bomb spree

CNN offices in New York were evacuated following the discovery of a mailed pipe bomb on Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018. AP
CNN offices in New York were evacuated following the discovery of a mailed pipe bomb on Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018. AP

US authorities intensified the hunt for the sender of a series of pipe bombs mailed to opponents of Donald Trump on Thursday, as the president launched another tirade against the media.

Less than two weeks before the midterm elections, the news of suspicious packages containing pipe bombs sent shock-waves across the United States. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is treating the incident as “domestic terrorism” while it searches for suspects and any additional as yet undiscovered explosive devices.

So far, the FBI is investigating at least 10 explosive packages sent to Democratic leaders and celebrities, all of whom are critics of the president who have been attacked by name by Mr Trump either over Twitter or at his rallies.

Those targeted include former president Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, California Democratic Representative Maxine Waters, Florida Democratic Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, billionaire philanthropist George Soros, former vice president Joe Biden and actor Robert De Niro.

The FBI cautioned that the number could grow.

The mailed explosive devices did not detonate, but bear many of the same hallmarks. They were posted in manila envelopes, with six postage stamps affixed, and printed labels with the same misspellings.

While President Trump had called for unity on Wednesday, by Thursday he was blaming the media for instigating the attacks. “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. It has gotten so bad and hateful that it is beyond description. Mainstream Media must clean up its act, FAST!” President Trump tweeted.

Democrat leaders responded by accusing the president of creating an atmosphere of hatred. “Time & time again, he has condoned physical violence & divided Americans with his words & his actions,” Congress minority leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer said in a joint statement:

President Trump has made attacks on the media a standard trope in his repertoire, repeatedly referring to journalists as “the enemy of the American people.”

These ongoing attacks were creating a polarising atmosphere in which violence was condoned, said CNN President Jeff Zucker. Mr Trump and the White House “should understand their words matter…Thus far, they have shown no comprehension of that.”

Some Republicans also urged President Trump tone down his rhetoric in order to unify the country. Governor of Ohio John Kasich told MSNBC “when you have the biggest megaphone, you also have the biggest responsibility to use it for good.”

Mitt Romney, who is running for the Senate in Utah, warned that “hate acts follow hate speech. It is past time for us to turn down and tune out the rabid rhetoric.”

The FBI is trying to extract DNA evidence from stamps used in the packages in the hopes of identifying suspects.

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