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CNN’s Time Warner Center office was evacuated on Wednesday in response to the discovery of a suspicious package containing an explosive device, the network’s journalists reported on air.
“The New York bomb squad unit right in front of the building, they are taking this very seriously,” morning anchor Jim Sciutto said. The package was found inside the mailroom, after it was delivered.
The device, which contained wires, has now been removed from the building and will be taken to a remote location to be inspected for clues. Authorities hope it can be closely examined before it detonates.
NYPD commissioner James O’Neill also said at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon that an envelope containing white power was found in the packaging, which is being investigated and tested.
CNN president Jeff Zucker told employees in a Wednesday afternoon email that they are now safe to return to the office. “The NYPD has concluded its security sweep, and it is now safe to return to the building,” he said. “I so appreciate your patience, as I know what a long day this has been for all of you.”
Sciutto said the network is not aware of any injuries. He said that CNN employees were asked to move ever further away from their office building.
“We at this time do not have other specific and credible threats against other locations in New York City,” mayor Bill de Blasio said at the press conference.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo praised the way CNN handled the threatening package.
Sciutto’s co-anchor, Poppy Harlow, said a fire alarm went off during her broadcast.
“They are treating this as a real, explosive device,” said reporter Shimon Prokupecz. “Serious concern in New York, as the police are treating this as the real deal.”
The New York Police Department’s Emergency Services Unit is on the scene, a police department source said.
The package was sent to CNN’s public address and was addressed to John Brennan, a former national security official who has appeared on CNN but is employed by NBC News and MSNBC as a contributor.
“The Time Warner Center has been evacuated out of an abundance of caution, as a result of a suspicious package having been received in the mailroom,” CNN president Jeff Zucker said in his first memo to employees. “We are working with authorities to determine the severity of the situation. The NYPD is on scene, and we we working closely with them to take every precaution. We are also checking all bureaus around the world, out of a complete abundance of caution.”
Zucker continued: “We expect more information very soon, and we ask that you remain calm and patient. If you would feel more comfortable leaving the premises, please do. Your safety is our top priority, and we will communicate again shortly.”
The network later informed employees that a search was conducted at other bureaus and no suspicious packages were found. Zucker said that bomb-detecting magnetometers are being put up at the entrances to the network’s headquarters in Atlanta.
He also cautioned employees not to share their location on social media. “We have no particular reason to be concerned, but just think it would be the most cautious approach,” he said.
Suspicious packages — that are thought to be linked to the CNN package — were also sent to the homes of former president Barack Obama, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and Democratic Party funder George Soros. A package was intended for former attorney general Eric Holder, but was sent to the wrong address.
Anchor Wolf Blitzer said on air that the White House has been briefed on the Time Warner Center threat.
CNN has faced credible security threats before. In January, a Michigan man was arrested after calling in threats to CNN’s office in Atlanta. In response, Zucker told employees that the network “stepped up” security procedures following the threat.
Last week, The New York Times had the New York Police Department erect concrete security barriers around the newspaper’s midtown headquarters.
“We condemn the attempted attacks against fmr Pres Obama, the Clintons, @CNN & others,” Vice President Mike Pence said on Wednesday morning. “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.”
President Trump shared Pence’s tweet and said, “I agree wholeheartedly!”
His spokesperson, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said, “This is an ongoing situation that President Trump and his admin are monitoring closely. Our condemnation of these despicable acts certainly includes threats made to CNN as well as current or former public servants. These cowardly acts are unacceptable and wont be tolerated.”
Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, also voiced her concerns. “I strongly condemn the attempted acts of violence against President Obama, the Clinton family, @CNN & others,” she said on Twitter. “There is no excuse—America is better than this. Gratitude to the @SecretService and law enforcement for all they do to keep this nation safe.”
Newspapers around the country are on high alert. The building that houses the San Diego Union-Tribune and California Sen. Kamala Harris’ field office, as well as the NBC/CBS affiliates in Fresno, both reported suspicious packages being delivered and evacuated employees.
CNN has long been enemy No. 1 in Trump’s rhetorical war on the media, accusing the network of “fake news” and chiding particular employees by name.
Listing the individuals and organizations targeted with suspicious packages, CNN anchor Jake Tapper said, “These are organizations that president Trump routinely attacks, demonizes.”
De Blasio, in the press briefing, urged New Yorkers not to be terrorized. “We cannot let the acts of a very few change who we are,” he said. “This is a moment in history that it is painful, but it will pass.”
Speaking broadly of public officials, without naming Trump specifically, the mayor said, “Don’t encourage violence. Don’t encourage hatred. Don’t encourage attacks on media.”
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