A letter addressed to President Barack Obama was found to contain Ricin Wednesday, the FBI announced, the same day Senate office buildings were partially evacuated following the discovery of “suspicious items” on the Hill.
“A second letter containing a granular substance that preliminarily tested positive for ricin was received at an offsite mail screening facility. The envelope, addressed to the President, was immediately quarantined by U.S. Secret Service personnel, and a coordinated investigation with the FBI was initiated,” the FBI announced.
For the second straight day, U.S. Capitol Police investigated a fresh potential threat to lawmakers: “Suspicious items” that led them to clear three floors in two Senate office buildings, according to a spokeswoman.
“Currently, we’re investigating two separate issues,” Lt. Jessia Baboulis told Yahoo News. Capitol Police “have asked that people remain off the first and third floors of the Hart office building, and the third floor of Russell,” another office building.
Asked whether there was any sign that those situations were linked to a letter addressed to Republican Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, which tested positive of the poison Ricin, Baboulis replied: “None at this time.”
The suspicious letters and items on the Hill follow heightened tensions in the wake of Monday’s deadly Boston Marathon bombings.
The letter sent to the president was never near the president or the White House. Following anthrax scares in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, the White House moved all mail processing off-site. The screening facility that caught the president’s letter Tuesday is “not located near the White House complex,” Leary noted in his statement.
“On 4-16-13, a letter addressed to the President containing a suspicious substance was received at the remote White House mail screening facility. This facility routinely identifies letters or parcels that require secondary screening or scientific testing before delivery,” Leary said.
“The Secret Service is working closely with the U.S. Capitol Police and the FBI in this investigation,” he said.
News of the intercepted letter to the president was reportedly announced to senators during a briefing Tuesday evening.