President Donald Trump vowed Wednesday to “get to the bottom” of the mysterious packages sent to CNN, the Clintons, the Obamas and George Soros, saying political violence has no place in the United States.
In his first lengthy remarks on the packages, Trump didn’t mention the intended recipients by name, referencing only “current and former high-ranking government officials.”
A live explosive device was sent to CNN’s New York office on Wednesday, and suspicious packages were found at the residences of the Clintons, the Obamas and Soros — all of whom are political opponents of Trump. That fact brought calls for Trump to explicitly condemn the threats.
“The safety of the American people is my highest and absolute priority,” Trump said during a pre-planned news conference in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday. “As we speak the packages are being inspected by top explosive efforts and a major federal investigation is now underway.”
New York City’s Time Warner Center, including the offices and studios of CNN, was evacuated on Wednesday after a suspicious package was found. The other packages were also found this week. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo also said a suspicious package was discovered at his Manhattan office Wednesday.
“We have to unify we have to come together and send a very clear strong unmistakable message that acts or threats of political violence, of any kind, have no place in the United States of America,” Trump said. “This egregious conduct is abhorrent to everything we hold dear as Americans… we’re extremely angry, upset and unhappy about what we witnessed this morning, and we’ll get to the bottom of it.”
First lady Melania Trump spoke before the president. “We cannot tolerate those cowardly attacks and I strongly condemn all those who choose violence,” she said in her brief remarks, before pivoting to talk about the opioid crisis.
About an hour after Trump’s remarks, CNN president Jeff Zucker put out a statement condemning the Trump White House for its “continued attacks” on the media.
“There is a total and complete lack of understanding at the White House about the seriousness of their continued attacks on the media. The President, and especially the White House Press Secretary, should understand their words matter,” said Zucker. “Thus far, they have shown no comprehension of that.”
Earlier, Trump quote-tweeted Vice President Mike Pence, who wrote: “We condemn the attempted attacks against fmr Pres Obama, the Clintons, @CNN & others. These cowardly actions are despicable & have no place in this Country. Grateful for swift response of @SecretService, @FBI & local law enforcement. Those responsible will be brought to justice.”
Trump added: “I agree wholeheartedly!”
I agree wholeheartedly! https://t.co/ndzu0A30vU
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 24, 2018
The New York Police Department said Wednesday that officers found an envelope containing “white powder” in the package sent to CNN’s New York headquarters.
CNN reported that the suspicious package was addressed to former CIA Director John Brennan, a frequent Trump critic. CNN’s Wolf Blizter noted on the air that Brennan is “a contributor to MSNBC and NBC News, but not CNN.”