Suspect package ‘found at De Niro restaurant’

Suspect package ‘found at De Niro restaurant’

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Media captionA specialist “total containment vehicle” removes a suspect package sent to Robert De Niro

A suspect package similar to those sent to CNN and senior Democrats has been sent to a New York restaurant owned by the actor Robert De Niro, US media say.

The device arrived at the Tribeca Grill in Manhattan early on Thursday local time, US media said, citing police.

Former Vice-President Joe Biden has also reportedly received packages.

If linked to previous incidents, this would be the ninth perceived critic of President Donald Trump to receive a suspect package this week.

De Niro – the star of films Raging Bull and Meet the Parents – is a vocal Trump opponent, and once called him “a national disaster”.

When the Oscar-winner attacked him at the Tony Awards in June, the president responded by calling De Niro a “very low IQ individual”.

Image copyright CBS

The New York Police Department said the restaurant building – which also houses his production company Tribeca Films – was empty at the time the suspicious device arrived, NBC reports.

  • Trump attacks ‘media hostility’ after mail bombs
  • De Niro offered Italy escape from Trump

Shortly after the news broke, President Trump appeared to pin the blame on the media, tweeting: “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.”

He made no direct reference to the device found at the restaurant, or any of the earlier incidents.

The series of bomb alerts began on Monday, when explosive devices were sent to locations in New York, the Washington DC area and Florida, authorities said on Wednesday.

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Media caption“Treasonous, traitor, corrupt” – but is that a Trump supporter or an Obama supporter talking about their opposition?

The first was found near the home of billionaire businessman George Soros, a major Democratic Party donor.

Other devices were sent to the following individuals, according to the FBI:

  • Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
  • Former President Barack Obama
  • Former Vice-President Joe Biden
  • Former CIA Director John Brennan, care of CNN
  • Former Attorney General Eric Holder
  • California Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters
  • Liberal philanthropist and financier George Soros (on Monday)

Two devices were sent to separate offices for Congresswoman Waters.

None of the devices went off. The FBI has launched a manhunt for their sender.

Image copyright CBS

Image caption US reports say actor Robert De Niro’s restaurant has been sent a suspected explosive device

Image copyright Reuters

Image caption The Academy Award-winning actor has been a vocal critic of President Trump

CNN’s New York office was evacuated on Wednesday morning, after the package addressed to Mr Brennan was found in its mailroom.

The attempted bombings come just under two weeks before the mid-term elections, with US politics highly polarised.

President Trump first responded on Wednesday by calling for more civility in public life, saying: “Those engaged in the political arena must stop treating political opponents as being morally defective.

“No-one should carelessly compare political opponents to historic villains, which is done often.”

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Media captionDonald Trump: “Stop endless hostility”

The president made no specific reference to the intended recipients of the packages.

He later told the media to end the “constant negative and oftentimes false attacks”.

Image copyright CBS

Image caption The Time Warner building in New York City was evacuated on Wednesday morning

Former CIA Director John Brennan, who was targeted at the CNN office on Wednesday, tweeted to Mr Trump on Thursday: “Stop blaming others. Look in the mirror. Your inflammatory rhetoric, insults, lies, & encouragement of physical violence are disgraceful.”

Why is this so political?

Conservatives claim Democrats, including those who were targeted in the bomb scare, have encouraged “angry mob” behaviour,

The president’s critics have called his remarks hypocritical, as he often uses vicious language against his opponents and the press.

He has said Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Hillary Clinton and former Attorney General Eric Holder “are losing it”, and that “they’ve gone so far left that they can’t even believe that they’re over there”.

Republican Congressman Steve Scalise, who nearly died after he was shot in 2017 by a deranged supporter of progressive Senator Bernie Sanders during a morning softball practice, wrote in Fox News on Thursday of the “growing list of violent or threatening actions taken against conservatives by Democrats”.

“The threats and the violence have not let up and instead of seeing my Democrat colleagues calling for an end, there have been calls for their supporters to keep going, to do even more to threaten Republicans,” he wrote.

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Media captionPence: ‘Those responsible will be brought to justice’

He cited multiple examples of Republicans being “chased out of restaurants” and of Republican lawmakers who have received death threats against themselves and their families.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders praised Mr Trump’s reaction to the bomb scares on Fox News, saying: “The President, I think could not have been more presidential.”

She added that “certainly the media has a role to play in this process” adding that “90% of the coverage of this president is negative despite the historic successes”.

“That is not helpful to the American discourse,” she added.

Some of Mr Trump’s supporters have said they believe the packages are part of a Democratic plot to win votes in the mid-terms, but there is no evidence for this.

Image caption A Republican outside the Florida governor debates on Wednesday holds a sign accusing Democrats of “fake bombs”
  • Why Trump attacks the media

An FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force “will continue to work to identify and arrest whosoever is responsible for sending these packages,” the agency’s director Christopher Wray said in a statement.

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