Letter possibly laced with ricin sent to Obama

Rachel Rose Hartman and Olivier Knox
The Ticket

A letter addressed to President Barack Obama that might have been contaminated with ricin was intercepted by authorities on Thursday, the Secret Service confirmed. The letter holds similarities to mail sent to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg that tested positive for the deadly toxin.

"U.S. Secret Service can confirm that the White House mail screening facility intercepted a letter addressed to the White House that [was] similar to letters previously addressed to Mayor Bloomberg in New York. This letter has been turned over to the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force for testing and investigation," Ed Donovan, Secret Service deputy assistant director, confirmed in an email on Thursday.

White House mail is processed off-site and, therefore, it never came into contact with the president nor was it at the White House.

The two letters to Bloomberg were sent to his advocacy group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and also did not come into contact with Bloomberg. That mail contained threats against Bloomberg and referenced the nation’s gun-control debate, New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne said in a statement on Wednesday.

Though the individuals who opened the Bloomberg letters were uninjured, the NYPD said members of its Emergency Service Unit responding to the letter exhibited symptoms of ricin exposure on Saturday and were treated.

The letters to Obama and Bloomberg follow an incident last month in which Obama and Republican Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi received ricin-laced letters.

Suspect J. Everett Dutschke of Mississippi was arrested in that case.

Holly Bailey contributed to this story.