Is Hillary Clinton under a chemical threat?
Strange news appeared to be emerging on Saturday morning, with the New York Post reporting that Clinton’s Downtown Brooklyn campaign headquarters was evacuated over a purported chemical scare.
Two campaign interns reportedly received an envelope at Clinton’s Manhattan office on Friday evening. Upon opening the envelope, a “suspicious white powder” was found along with a letter, which contained some writing but no death threats, NYPD officials who investigated the incident confirmed.
The envelope was taken by the interns to Clinton’s campaign office in Brooklyn about half an hour after having initially received it, where two more campaign staff members were reportedly exposed to the suspicious substance. As a precautionary measure, emergency crews were deployed at the Brooklyn office, which was swiftly evacuated amid fears that Hillary Clinton and her campaign staff could be the target of a chemical attack.
— The Hill (@thehill) October 22, 2016
However, officials maintained that none of the four Clinton campaigns staff members exposed to the white powder complained of any illnesses or injuries, helping them conclude that the substance was not hazardous as first imagined, according to Reuters.
“The preliminary investigation determined that it was negative in terms of containing a hazardous substance,” Lieutenant Thomas Antonetti, allaying fears Clinton or her campaign could be the serious target of an ill-conceived chemical offensive.
Even so, Antonetti conceded that investigators were still in the dark about what the white powder was, who sent it, or why it was sent to Clinton’s campaign office.
“We’re trying to determine what the substance was. For right now, we can at least rule out any poisonous or deadly nature of the substance,” Antonetti concluded.
Clinton campaign spokesman Glen Caplin also relayed a similar message on Friday evening. He said that despite the chemical scare, the campaign staff intend to keep the office running uninterrupted at such a grueling stage of the presidential race.
“Preliminary testing by federal and local officials has found the substance to be non-hazardous. The four individuals involved have reported no health issues and, following a full examination by medical personnel, were each released to go home.
“Our office remained open throughout this period and will remain open without interruption tomorrow morning.”
Caplin confirmed that Hillary Clinton was not in New York at the time of the evacuation, and was in fact attending a campaign event in Ohio as part of a multi-day campaign trail tour of the swing states.
The Hillary Clinton chemical scare is a fresh new twist in what has been a brutal and unrelenting presidential race. This is the first that Clinton’s campaign has received such a threat in her three decades of public life, although her Republican rival Donald Trump has received some suspicious objects himself in the past. As the Daily Mail reports, Trump’s son, Eric, was sent a letter with a similar white powder and a threatening message back in July.
“If your father does not drop out of the race, the next envelope won’t be a fake.”
In the immediate aftermath of the discovery, speculations were also rife that the white powder which was sent to Clinton’s campaign office could have been anthrax. Back in 2001, immediately after the World Trade Center attacks, several news media offices and members of the congress received powdered anthrax in their mails, which led to the death of five people and over a dozen infections.
However, police say there is no reason to believe that the powder which was sent to Hillary Clinton’s campaign office was anthrax, or any other toxic chemical. Coming two weeks before Election Day, however, the incident is certain to send pulses racing in both camps.
[Featured Image by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]