By Makini Brice and Gabriella Borter
WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Federal authorities are investigating suspicious packages sent to the White House, former U.S. President Barack Obama and former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, the U.S. Secret Service and a person familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.
A suspicious package addressed to the White House was intercepted at an off-site facility, the source told Reuters.
The suspicious packages sent to the two top Democrats as well as a bomb sent to one of their major donors came roughly two weeks ahead of the high-stakes Nov. 6 election that will determine whether Republicans maintain control of Congress in a nation that has become deeply polarized.
The package to Clinton was found late Tuesday while the one addressed to Obama was found early Wednesday, both during routine mail screenings, the Secret Service said. Both Obama and Clinton were not at risk, they added.
The White House, in a statement, condemned the attempted attacks on Obama and Clinton.
“These terrorizing acts are despicable, and anyone responsible will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said. “The United States Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies are investigating and will take all appropriate actions to protect anyone threatened by these cowards.”
The FBI said it was investigating the packages.
“The packages were immediately identified during routine mail screening procedures as potential explosive devices and were appropriately handled as such,” the Secret Service said in a statement.
The package addressed to Clinton at her home in the New York suburb of Chappaqua was an explosive device, the New York Times reported.
The discovery of the packages came after a small bomb was found earlier this week at the home of billionaire liberal donor George Soros in the New York City suburb of Katonah, about 10 miles from the Clintons’ home.
“Nothing made it to their home,” Bill Clinton’s spokesman said in an email. A spokesman for Hillary Clinton referred queries to the Secret Service statement.
A spokeswoman for the Obamas declined to comment.
Chappaqua police said authorities in New Castle assisted the FBI, the Secret Service and Westchester County police with the investigation into the package sent to Clinton.
“The matter is currently under federal investigation,” the police said in a statement, referring questions to the FBI.
The device sent to Clinton was similar to the one found on Monday at Soros’ home, the Times reported, citing a law enforcement official.
(Reporting by Makini Brice and Steve Holland in Washington and Gabriella Borter in New York; Additional reporting by Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru; Writing by Susan Heavey; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)