The Secret Service said on Wednesday morning that it intercepted two “potential explosive devices” sent to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton on Tuesday. The announcement comes one day after law-enforcement officials recovered a mail bomb delivered to billionaire investor George Soros.
“The packages were immediately identified during routine mail screening procedures as potential explosive devices and were appropriately handled as such,” the agency said in a statement. “The protectees did not receive the packages nor were they at risk of receiving them.” Obama lives in Washington, D.C., while the Clintons and Soros live in New York. The Time Warner Center, which houses CNN’s New York studios, has also been evacuated due to a suspicious package that was addressed to former CIA Director John Brennan.
The return address on all of the packages was that of Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, whose office in Florida also has been evacuated due to a suspicious package addressed to former Attorney General Eric Holder. Like Brennan, Holder served during the Obama administration.
No suspects have been arrested, but the choice of targets and the proximity to the election points towards a political motive. Soros in particular is the subject of numerous conspiracy theories, sometimes with anti-Semitic overtones, related to his prominent funding of liberal causes. The New York Times reported that federal law-enforcement officials said the devices sent to all three people resembled each other.
Two federal officials have been assassinated in the last 30 years, though a grim streak of luck has prevented the number from being far higher. In 2017, a gunman opened fire on Republican lawmakers at a congressional baseball practice, severely wounding House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and other bystanders. Scalise’s presence may have prevented an even greater tragedy: The Capitol Police officers who shot and killed the gunman were only present because of his position in the House leadership.
Scalise’s shooting came six years after a gunman shot Arizona Representative Gabby Giffords in the back of the head during an event in Tucson. Giffords survived her injuries, though the gunman killed federal judge John Roll and five others shortly thereafter. Roll was the first federal official to be murdered in office since a mail bomb killed federal judge Robert Vance in 1989.
This post is being updated as more information become available.