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Donald Trump: Andrew Gillum ‘is a thief’

Republican President Donald Trump is continuing his political assault on Andrew Gillum, the Democratic nominee in Florida’s race for Governor.

The latest attack: Calling Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, a thief.

In a tweet fired off Monday, the President praised Ron DeSantis, the Republican gubernatorial nominee (and Trump-backed candidate), while repeating his continued claim that Florida’s capital city is “corrupt” and adding that its Mayor “is a thief” — an unproven embellishment.

Those associated with Gillum’s campaign immediately criticized the tweet.

“This is a disgusting lie,” tweeted Geoff Burgan, a former spokesman for Gillum and current media consultant for the campaign.

Gillum, via his Twitter account, also responded.

There’s no evidence suggesting Gillum, the state’s first African-American major-party nominee for Governor, has ever stolen anything.

On Monday afternoon, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was asked to clarify Trump’s claim that Gillum is a thief.

Sanders responded saying that Gillum is “under FBI investigation.” She didn’t go into details, citing the Hatch Act, which in part limits White House staffers from engaging in political activity.

Gillum’s campaign decried Sanders’ comments as “lies.”

“It’s simply wrong to say Mayor Gillum is under FBI investigation — he’s not under FBI investigation and the FBI has confirmed it,” said the Gillum campaign in a prepared statement.

During the final days leading to the Nov. 6 midterm, Gillum has been dogged by a steady trickle of documents that have revealed links to a two-year FBI investigation into government corruption in Tallahassee.

Gillum has not been subpoenaed by the FBI and contends he is not the target of the FBI’s inquiry. The documents are being distributed as part of an ongoing state ethics investigation separate from the FBI’s.

But nothing made publicly available has pointed to theft, and the Gillum campaign has denied any wrongdoing.

The first batch of records, released a week ago, suggested Gillum may have accepted a ticket to the musical “Hamilton” from “Mike Miller” — supposedly an undercover FBI agent posing as an out-of-state developer seeking to do business with the city of Tallahassee — while in New York.

Records released Friday linked Miller to Gillum’s political committee, Forward Florida. Another batch of records released on Monday detailed a 2016 dinner planned between Gillum and lobbyists.

Trump has a keen political interest in the outcome of Florida’s top-ticket races. He’s exercised his influence on U.S Senate candidate and Republican Gov. Rick Scott and endorsed DeSantis’ campaign before the Republican primary election.

The President will hold two rallies this week. The first in Fort Myers on Wednesday, followed by another in Pensacola on Saturday.

Donald Trump will hold another Florida rally Nov. 3 in Pensacola

President Donald Trump will fly to Florida to rally voters here at least once in November, days before the midterm elections.

The website states he will be speaking at the Pensacola International Airport at 5:30 p.m. Doors open at 2:30 p.m.

Trump already plans to host a MAGA (that’s Make America Great Again) rally in Fort Myers on Oct. 31.

Republican operatives say Trump selected Fort Myers for two reasons. First, Germain Arena is one of the largest venues in Southwest Florida. Second, energizing Republican voters in Lee and Collier counties provides a foundation of support for statewide candidates.

Notably, Gov. Rick Scott, who is challenging Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson for his U.S. Senate seat, will make one of his first campaign trail appearances since Hurricane Michael when he goes to campaign alongside Trump and Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis in Fort Myers.

The Nov. 3 rally happens the same day Trump already plans to host a rally in Bozeman, Montana.

And indeed, Florida and Montana both host major Senate races this year, here between Scott and Nelson and in the Big Sky State between Democratic incumbent Sen. Jon Tester and Republican challenger Matt Rosendale.

Of course, Trump also has a particular interest in the Governor’s race in Florida, where his endorsement of Ron DeSantis played a role in securing the Republican nomination for the former Congressman. Now, DeSantis faces a hard fight with Democrat Andrew Gillum.

Polls show both the Senate race and Governor election as dead heats.

With the addition of another Florida stop, that makes 11 rallies the president plans to hold between now and Election Day, so this may be the last time Trump visits the Sunshine State before the midterms wrap up.

NY Times poll shows Andrew Gillum lead, narrow path for Ron DeSantis

A NYTimes/Siena poll released Sunday had good news for Democrat Andrew Gillum and bad news for Republican Ron DeSantis.

Gillum had a five point lead (48-43 percent), and he led in every turnout scenario except for one: an electorate that looked like 2014.

In that instance, DeSantis was up by one point. Otherwise, if voter pools reflected a 2016 electorate, historically likely voters, people who claim to be certain to vote, and every registered voter, Gillum was up (and by nine points with historically reliable voters).

Likewise, no matter how results were weighted, including education and census data, the Democrat led.

Gillum’s lead is especially remarkable given that President Donald Trump is above water by a point, 47 percent favorable to 46 percent unfavorable, in this survey.

Gillum holds a nine point lead with women here, and has massive leads with voters under 45 as well as members of ethnic minorities. DeSantis’s strongholds: a 55 to 38 percent lead with white voters, 25 point lead with whites who didn’t graduate college, and a seven point firewall with voters aged 45 to 54.

Both candidates are at 91 percent with voters from their own parties, but Gillum shows a 48 to 36 percent lead with Independents.

The NYTimes/Siena poll dropped on the same day as a new CBS News/YouGov poll  showing a much tighter race. Gillum still led in that measure with 47 percent support closely followed by DeSantis at 46 percent, with another 2 percent supporting someone else and 5 percent still unsure.

The current polling average compiled by RealClearPolitics splits the difference between the two Sunday polls, showing Gillum up 3.2 percentage points.

With only a handful of days until it’s pencils down on the 2018 cycle, elections forecaster FiveThirtyEight says Gillum has 7-in-9 odds of breaking the GOP’s 20-year monopoly on the Governor’s mansion.

Environmental group adds support for Lauren Baer bid in CD 18

Environment America Action Fund (EAAF), an environmental group which has supported Democrats in previous election cycles, is now announcing it’s throwing resources behind Lauren Baer‘s bid in Florida’s 18th Congressional District.

The group has pledged to spend more than $1 million across 10 congressional races; hers is one. EAAF says it is targeting races “where voters have a clear choice as to which candidate will best protect our environment.”

EAAF argues one of those races is CD 18: “Protecting the environment is the challenge of our time,” said Jennifer Rubiello, state director for the group’s Florida arm.

“We need to act now, as climate change brings increasingly dangerous hurricanes, sea surge and heat waves to Florida and the administration rolls back clean air and water laws that were passed with broad bipartisan support.”

The group says Baer is better suited to achieve those goals than her Republican opponent, U.S. Rep. Brian Mast.

“Unless we vote in representatives who will provide a strong counterweight to the current administration’s agenda, anti-environmental interests will be emboldened to dismantle even more protections and set us back for decades,” Rubiello added.

Mast, however, has advanced efforts in Congress to tackle the state’s algae problem. But Baer has said those bills aren’t enough, launching an entire website dedicated to arguing that “Brian Mast is toxic.”

Rubiello also had criticism for President Donald Trump‘s record on the environment, arguing it should motivate voters in 2018.

“By a wide margin, the American people reject the Trump administration’s anti-environmental policies,” Rubiello said.

“Never before have so many congressional races exposed a clear contrast for voters who care about the environment. We believe that voters will hold anti-environment incumbents accountable for their dismal voting records and help elect new environmental champions to the House.”

Extra troopers deployed to Florida religious institutions after Pittsburgh shooting

State leaders dispatched Florida Highway Patrol troopers to increase patrols around religious institutions following a mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

Gov. Rick Scott announced hours after the Pennsylvania attack that patrols would be enhanced at places of worship throughout the state of Florida.

“The shooting at a synagogue in Pennsylvania was an act of pure evil and hatred,” Scott said. “There is no place in America for intolerance and violence, and we will do everything in our power to protect Floridians who are peacefully gathered to worship.”

Pennsylvania authorities report 11 people died in the attack there, according to Pittsburgh news station KDKA CBS 2. The FBI already began investigating the incident as a crime a hate crime, and witnesses say shooter Robert Bowers walked into the synagogue saying “All Jews must die.” The shooter brought an AR-15 and three handguns.

Police apprehended the subject alive within 20 minutes of initial calls to police. Four police officers were injured in the attack.

President Donald Trump responded to news of the shooting, saying the outcome may have been different if armed guards had protected the synagogue. “They didn’t have any protection,” Trump said, according to the Associated Press.

Florida has seen a significant jump in reported hate crimes, according to the most recent published data.

Bomb suspect was cash-strapped ex-stripper devoted to Trump

Cesar Sayoc is an amateur bodybuilder and former stripper, a loner with a long arrest record who showed little interest in politics until Donald Trump came along.

On Friday, he was identified by authorities as the Florida man who put pipe bombs in small manila envelopes, affixed six stamps and sent them to some of Trump’s most prominent critics.

His arrest capped a week in which the bombs aimed at some of America’s biggest names — Obama, Clinton, De Niro — dominated the news and invited speculation about who might be responsible for them. The answer, authorities said, was Sayoc, a 56-year-old man from Aventura, Florida, who was devoted to Trump, had a history of financial problems and an extensive arrest record, including a stint on probation for making a bomb threat.

His attorney in that 2002 case, Ronald Lowy, described Sayoc as “a confused man who had trouble controlling his emotions.”

A cousin of Sayoc, Lenny Altieri, used stronger terms.

“I know the guy is a lunatic,” Altieri told The Associated Press. “He has been a loner.”

Altieri confirmed that Sayoc had been a stripper. On an online resume, Sayoc described himself as a booker and promoter for burlesque shows.

Stacy Saccal, the general manager of the Ultra Gentlemen’s Club in West Palm Beach, said Sayoc had worked there for about two months, first as a floor bouncer and for the past month as a disc jockey — most recently on Thursday night, hours before his arrest Friday morning.

“I didn’t know this guy was mad crazy like this,” she said Friday. “Never once did he speak politics. This is a bar. We don’t talk politics or religion in a bar, you know?”

Florida voter records show Sayoc first registered in March 2016 as a Republican and cast a ballot in that November’s presidential election.

He has been an active Trump supporter, tweeting and posting Facebook videos that appear to show him at the president’s rallies.

Sayoc’s social media accounts are peppered with memes supporting Trump, and denigrating Democrats.

Sayoc lived in a white 2002 Dodge Ram van, which was plastered with stickers supporting Trump and criticizing media outlets that included CNN, which was also targeted by mail bombs.

The van was often parked outside an LA Fitness in Aventura, backed up in a parking space under the trees for shade. Patrons say they frequently saw him in the locker room.

“He’d just be walking straight to the shower and be in the shower forever,” said Edgar Lopez, who often exercises at the gym. “I never saw him working out.”

Other times, the van was seen parked at the beach in nearby Hollywood before dawn, with Sayoc stripping down to skin-tight shorts for an outdoor shower.

“I’ve seen the guy maybe 80 times and I never said a word to him because I had a feeling he was a little off,” said Marc Weiss, the superintendent of a building near where Sayoc frequently parked. “I assumed because he was showering at the beach that he was homeless.”

In 2015, he reported to police that his van was broken into outside of a gym in Oakland Park, Florida. He claimed that more than $40,000 worth of items were stolen, including $7,150 worth of Donald Trump-brand suits.

But often, Sayoc was on the other side of legal complaints.

In the 2002 bomb threat case, he had lashed out at a Florida utility representative because his electricity service was about to be cut off. The arrest report said Sayoc threatened in a phone call to blow up the utility’s offices and said that “It would be worse than September 11th.”

Sayoc was also convicted in 2014 for grand theft and in 2013 for battery. In 2004, he faced several felony charges for unlawful possession of a synthetic anabolic steroid often used to help build muscles. He also had several arrests going back to the 1990s for theft, obtaining fraudulent refunds and tampering with evidence.

Lowy said he recalled that Sayoc also had a run-in with authorities where he was charged with possessing a fake driver’s license after altering his birthdate to make him appear younger.

Sayoc displayed no political leanings at the time of the bombing charge, Lowy said, except for plastering his vehicle with Native American emblems. Sayoc told his lawyer his father was Native American.

More recently, Sayoc described himself on social media as being affiliated with the Seminole Warriors boxing club and being a member of the “Unconquered Seminole Tribe.”

Gary Bitner, a spokesman for the Seminole Tribe of Florida, said there is no evidence to show that Sayoc worked for the tribe or was a tribal member.

Altieri, his cousin, said Sayoc’s only connection to Native Americans was that he once dated a member of a tribe.

Sayoc was born in New York City. His mother was Italian and his biological father was Filipino, and his parents separated when he was a young boy, Altieri said. After his parents separated, Sayoc was “kind of rejected” by his family.

“When you get no love as a young kid, you get kind of out of whack,” he said.

He enrolled at Brevard College in North Carolina in 1980 and attended for three semesters, said Christie Cauble, the school’s interim director of communications. He then transferred to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, enrolling for the 1983-84 academic year. Buffie Stephens, director of media relations for the school, said Sayoc didn’t declare a major. He played a few games as a walk-on player for the university’s men’s soccer team. There is no indication he ever completed a degree.

He moved to the Miami suburbs in the late 1980s. He had serious financial problems in recent years, including losing his home in foreclosure in 2009 and filling for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in 2012.

In court records, Sayoc was described as having $4,175 in personal property and more than $21,000 in debts, mostly from unpaid credit cards. His monthly income at the time was $1,070.

“Debtor lives with mother, owns no furniture,” Sayoc’s lawyer indicated in a property list. Sayoc’s mother, Madeline, also filed for bankruptcy around the same time. She was not immediately available to respond to phone messages left with her by the AP.

Sayoc’s media diet appears to have consisted of a toxic mixture of conspiracy theory, parody accounts and right-wing news sites. One of Sayoc’s most favored recent sources was a Twitter account that spread hoaxes about the Parkland High School shooting in Florida earlier this year.

He tweeted at least 40 times a screenshot of a meme featuring the transparently false claim that Parkland mass-shooting survivor David Hogg never went to Stoneman Douglas High School, occasionally including hostile captions such as “He is a George Soros paid protester.” Soros, the billionaire progressive political donor, was targeted this week by a package bomb.

Sayoc even seems to have stumbled across a Polish conspiracy news site, tweeting out a wildly false claim that Angela Merkel had been conceived using Adolf Hitler’s frozen sperm.

In June, he praised Trump in a birthday message saying, “Happy Birthday President Donald J. Trump the greatest result President ever.”


Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Carlson Spano

Kristen Carlson collects $400K in final push against Ross Spano

Kristen Carlson continues to pad her campaign war chest in an unlikely toss-up election in the conservative Congressional District 15.

Carlson raised more than $400,000 from Oct. 1-17, bringing her overall fundraising total to $1.2 million.

That’s nearly triple what her Republican opponent Ross Spano raised in the same period and only $83,000 less than Spano has raised throughout his entire campaign.

“We’re proud to continue surpassing expectations in this historically red district,” said Conor Hurley, Carlson’s campaign manager. “Over the next 11 days, we will continue to do everything we can to build up the support we need to win this race.”

The latest campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission Friday come as Carlson continues to show gains in the polls. An internal poll showed Carlson tied with Spano. It was the third poll this week showing a close race, according to her campaign.

FiveThirtyEight and Cook Political Report both list the race as a “toss-up.”

“Between the tied polls and our big fundraising numbers, it’s clear that Kristen’s platform of fighting for families is resonating with voters and making this race more competitive than observers expected,” Hurley said.

Another conservative poll put Spano out ahead 7 points.

Carlson’s cash

Most came from individual donors. Of her October haul so far, she raised $333,000 from individuals and just $24,500 from political committees or other groups.

A huge chunk of Carlson’s overall funding is from the liberal fundraising platform ACTBlue.

She also received donations from Tampa City Council member and Tampa mayoral candidate Harry Cohen for $250, former candidate for Florida Governor Alex Sink who chipped in $1,000 and a Facebook vice president, David Fischer, who donated $2,700.

Emily’s List, a group that seeks to elect liberal women to office, has kicked in $12,000 to date.

Carlson has spent $1 million to date with most of that spending happening in the first half of October. She made three payments to Buying Time LLC, more than $60,000 for television ad buys.

Carlson has $240,000 left in the bank during the final campaign stretch leading up to the Nov. 6 election.

Despite too-close-to-call polls and a massive fundraising advantage, Carlson still will have to push through the finish line. Her conservative district covering parts of Hillsborough, Lake and Polk counties voted plus-10 for President Donald Trump in 2016. Incumbent Republican Dennis Ross scored a 15-point victory over the Democratic nominee Jim Lange.

Spano’s spending

He’s running low on cash for the final 11-days of campaigning. He raised just $148,000 during the latest reporting period and has just $68,000 left in the bank.

He spent $230,000 this reporting period with a $91,000 ad buy from Political Communications Advertising in New York City and $40,000 to Ax Media in Kansas City, Missouri.

Spano paid the Republican Party of Florida and Momentum Strategy Group $20,000 and $11,000 respectively for direct mail. He is also bogged down with $164,000 in debts compared with Carlson’s $20,000.

Spano collected nearly $100,000 of his latest fundraising haul from individual donors and about $50,000 from political committees and groups.

Some notable contributions came from Tampa lawyer Rhea Law and state Sen. Dennis BaxleyClub Growth for Action was one of Spano’s top donors. The conservative PAC has dumped $27,000 into Spano’s campaign.

He also collected high dollar contributions from U.S. Sugar, which has donated $4,500 so far, and Reclaim America. That group claims to “speak truth to the lies of the progressive liberal agenda.” It donated $10,000 to Spano’s campaign including $5,000 during the latest report.


PPP Poll: Andrew Gillum up 5 in Tampa Bay region

If Election Day were today, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum would “bring it home.” At least in the Tampa Bay area.

That’s according to a new survey from Public Policy Polling that found the Democratic nominee with 50 percent support among likely general election voters living in the Tampa media market.

His Republican rival, former Congressman Ron DeSantis, was the pick for 45 percent of respondents, with the balance undecided.

The PPP measure, conducted Oct. 25-26, is the latest of many polls to show Gillum leading DeSantis, but it is one of a handful to get into the weeds on top-of-ticket races within a specific region of the state. The most analogous is the St. Pete Polls measure of Pasco County released earlier this week showing DeSantis with a 52-44 percent lead.

Pasco County made up 14 percent of PPP’s sample, while Hillsborough made up a third and Pinellas accounted for 28 percent. The remainder hailed from Sarasota County (13 percent) and Manatee County (10 percent).

Also included in PPP’s poll was a measure of each candidate’s favorability score as well as some top-line results for the U.S. Senate race between term-limited Republican Gov. Rick Scott and incumbent Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson.

When it comes to favorability, DeSantis is the more likable guy among Tampa Bay voters — 47 percent said they had a positive opinion of the three-term Congressman compared to 45 percent who said the opposite. His plus-2 score beat out Gillum’s plus-1.

When it comes to the Nelson versus Scott question, the region prefers to stay the course, favoring Nelson 49 percent to 46 percent. Just like the race for Governor, holdouts account for the remaining 5 percent.

The positive numbers for the top-two Democrats on the ballot come in spite of respondents handing President Donald Trump a plus-2 on his job performance thus far, and self-identifying as Trump voters in the 2016 election 48 to 44 percent.

Republicans made up 42 percent of the 524 voters polled, followed by Democrats at 41 percent and independents at 17 percent. More than three-quarters were white, and the gender split was 53 to 47 percent, advantage women. By age, voters under 45 made up 20 percent of respondents, the 46- to 65-year-old bracket accounted for 45 percent with the balance being voters over 65.

The regional results track with the statewide polling averages compiled by RealClearPolitics. In the Guv contest, RCP says Gillum is up 4.5 percentage points. In the U.S. Senate race, RCP says Nelson is 3.2 percentage points ahead of Scott.

With only a handful of days until it’s pencils down on the 2018 cycle, elections forecaster FiveThirtyEight says Nelson has a 75 percent chance to earn a fourth term. The site also says Gillum has an 80 percent chance of breaking the GOP’s 20-year monopoly on the Governor’s mansion.

Election Day is Nov. 6.

Rick Scott heading back out on campaign trail

Republican U.S. Senate nominee Gov. Rick Scott will be returning soon to the campaign trail while still making recovery efforts from Hurricane Michael his first priority, his U.S. Senate campaign announced Friday.

The announcement did not say exactly when he’ll be returning to campaigning or what events might be upcoming, other than his intention to join President Donald Trump and Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis at the rally in Fort Myers next Wednesday. The statement emphasized that the campaign will not be his primary focus over the next 10 days before the Nov. 6 election.

Scott’s taking on Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson for Florida’s U.S. Senate seat.

On Oct. 15 his campaign announced that Scott was stepping away for the foreseeable future from actively campaigning and that First Lady Ann Scott would take his place on the trail so that he could focus his efforts on recovery from the Oct. 13 Hurricane Michael recovery. Nonetheless, Scott’s campaign used footage of the governor’s hurricane recovery efforts in campaign advertising.

Some GOP insiders have posited — or, more accurately, demurred — that Hurricane Michael served as an opportunity for Scott to continue keeping Trump at arm’s length. The last time Trump came to the Sunshine State to stump for Scott and DeSantis, the term-limited Governor was miles away from the Florida State Fairgrounds holding a private campaign fundraiser fundraiser. Of course, Michael also gave Scott the opportunity to don his signature Navy ball cap and and play the steady hand during a crisis.

“With hurricane recovery still ongoing, Gov. Scott’s primary focus will continue to be working to solve problems and coordinating efforts by federal, state and local officials to make sure communities devastated by Hurricane Michael can get back on their feet. Recovery has been going well, but there’s still a lot of work to be done and Gov. Scott, unlike Bill Nelson who said he’d done everything he could do after one week, will continue to work to restore those communities until his last day in office,” a statement from his campaign spokesman Chris Harline read.

“Gov. Scott will, however, be rejoining the campaign trail in the final stretch leading up to the Nov. 6 election. He will also continue to visit the Panhandle on a regular basis. The Governor’s Office will continue to keep you updated on that,” Hartline’s statement continued.

That will include efforts to get out the vote at community events, businesses and churches.

The sequel to the July Trump rally comes as DeSantis is lagging behind Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum in the polls and Scott is essentially tied in his race with incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.

A survey released Monday by St. Pete Polls showed the Nelson and Scott deadlocked at 48 percent apiece, while other polls have shown similarly close results. As of Friday, election forecaster FiveThirtyEight says Nelson has a 75 percent chance to earn a fourth term next month. Their forecasting model predicts Nelson will win 52-48 percent on Election Day.

The forecasting site gives Gillum even better odds in the Gov. race, with his current chance of victory measuring in above 80 percent. An average of public polls compiled by RealClearPolitics shows Gillum leading the race by 4.5 percentage points. The RCP polling average for the Nelson vs. Scott contest shows a 3.2 percentage point lead for the incumbent.

Person detained in mail-bomb investigation

Federal authorities took a man into custody Friday in Florida in connection with the mail-bomb scare that earlier widened to 12 suspicious packages, the FBI and Justice Department said.

The man was identified by law enforcement officials as Cesar Sayoc, 56, of Aventura, Florida. He was arrested at an auto parts store in the nearby city of Plantation.

Court records show Sayoc has a history of arrests.

Law enforcement officers were seen on television examining a white van, its windows covered with an assortment of stickers, in the city of Plantation in the Miami area. Authorities covered the vehicle with a blue tarp and took it away on the back of a flatbed truck.

Bomb Map -- Associated Press

The stickers included images of American flags and what appeared to be logos of the Republican National Committee and CNN, though the writing surrounding those images was unclear.

President Donald Trump said he expected to speak about the investigation at a youth summit on Friday.

The development came amid a coast-to-coast manhunt for the person responsible for a series of explosive devices addressed to Democrats including former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton.

Law enforcement officials said they had intercepted a dozen packages in states across the country. None had exploded, and it wasn’t immediately clear if they were intended to cause physical harm or simply sow fear and anxiety.

Earlier Friday, authorities said suspicious packages addressed to New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and former National Intelligence Director James Clapper — both similar to those containing pipe bombs sent to other prominent critics of President Donald Trump— had been intercepted.

Investigators believe the mailings were staggered. The U.S. Postal Service searched their facilities 48 hours ago and the most recent packages didn’t turn up. Officials don’t think they were sitting in the system without being spotted. They were working to determine for sure. The officials spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.

The FBI said the package to Booker was intercepted in Florida. The one discovered at a Manhattan postal facility was addressed to Clapper at CNN’s address. An earlier package had been sent to former Obama CIA Director John Brennan via CNN in New York.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Friday the Justice Department was dedicating every available resource to the investigation “and I can tell you this: We will find the person or persons responsible. We will bring them to justice.”

Trump, on the other hand, complained that “this ‘bomb’ stuff” was taking attention away from the upcoming election and said critics were wrongly blaming him and his heated rhetoric.

Investigators were analyzing the innards of the crude devices to reveal whether they were intended to detonate or simply sow fear just before Election Day.

Law enforcement officials told The Associated Press that the devices, containing timers and batteries, were not rigged to explode upon opening. But they were uncertain whether the devices were poorly designed or never intended to cause physical harm.

Most of those targeted were past or present U.S. officials, but one was sent to actor Robert De Niro and billionaire George Soros. The bombs have been sent across the country – from New York, Delaware and Washington, D.C., to Florida and California, where Rep. Maxine Waters was targeted. They bore the return address of Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.

The common thread among the bomb targets was obvious: their critical words for Trump and his frequent, harsher criticism in return.

Trump claimed Friday he was being blamed for the mail bombs, complaining in a tweet sent before dawn: “Funny how lowly rated CNN, and others, can criticize me at will, even blaming me for the current spate of Bombs and ridiculously comparing this to September 11th and the Oklahoma City bombing, yet when I criticize them they go wild and scream, ‘it’s just not Presidential!’”

The package to Clapper was addressed to him at CNN’s Midtown Manhattan address. Clapper, a frequent Trump critic, told CNN that he was not surprised he was targeted and that he considered the actions “definitely domestic terrorism.”

Jeff Zucker, the president of CNN Worldwide, said in a note to staff that all mail to CNN domestic offices was being screened at off-site facilities. He said there was no imminent danger to the Time Warner Center, where CNN’s New York office is located.

At a press conference Thursday, officials in New York would not discuss possible motives or details on how the packages found their way into the postal system. Nor would they say why the packages hadn’t detonated, but they stressed they were still treating them as “live devices.”

The devices were packaged in manila envelopes and carried U.S. postage stamps. They were being examined by technicians at the FBI’s forensic lab in Quantico, Virginia.

The packages stoked nationwide tensions ahead of the Nov. 6 election to determine control of Congress — a campaign both major political parties have described in near-apocalyptic terms. Politicians from both parties used the threats to decry a toxic political climate and lay blame.

Trump, in a tweet Thursday, blamed the “Mainstream Media” for the anger in society. Brennan responded, tweeting that Trump should “Stop blaming others. Look in the mirror.”

The bombs are about 6 inches (15 centimeters) long and packed with powder and broken glass, according to a law enforcement official who viewed X-ray images. The official said the devices were made from PVC pipe and covered with black tape.

The first bomb discovered was delivered Monday to the suburban New York compound of Soros, a major contributor to Democratic causes. Soros has called Trump’s presidency “dangerous.”


Associated Press writers Laurie Kellman, Ken Thomas, Jill Colvin and Chad Day in Washington and Jim Mustian, Deepti Hajela, Tom Hays and Michael R. Sisak in New York contributed to this report.

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