State Capitol Bureau Chief Christopher Keating reports:
The two U.S. senators from Connecticut learned about an intercepted envelope containing the deadly poison ricin on Tuesday afternoon but continued their work because the letter was found at a facility many miles from the U.S. Capitol.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal said in a telephone interview: “It’s in the suburbs, but there will be no regular mail for a while – at least the rest of the week. Most senators are concerned, but not unduly alarmed.
\”We’ve been briefed on the investigation that’s ongoing and assured that everything is underway to make sure that the FBI and other investigating authorities apprehend whoever is responsible,\” Blumenthal said. \”We’re assured that the FBI is devoting all the resources and attention that is necessary.’’
CNN reported that the envelope that tested positive for was intercepted at an off-site mail facility in Washington, and that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he was told it was addressed to the office of Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss.
Despite the discovery, the U.S. Senate is anticipating votes Wednesday on high-profile gun legislation in the aftermath of the Dec. 14 Newtown shootings, which left 20 children and six educators dead. Depending on the course of the debate, votes could be held on amendments Wednesday, including one on high-capacity magazines that will be offered by Blumenthal.
“Everything is business as usual in terms of the work of the Senate, but at the same time, the screening is also part of business as usual,’’ Blumenthal said. “For a brief period, they will probably stop regular delivery of all mail while they heighten the screening process.’’
When asked for details on why Wicker would be targeted, Blumenthal said that he could not comment because it was an ongoing investigation.
Blumenthal learned of the incident on Tuesday afternoon during a briefing on the Boston bombing – and authorities mentioned the ricin discovery.
Ben Marter, a spokesman for U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, said that Murphy and his staff learned about the ricin letter on Tuesday afternoon. He noted that no one on Capitol Hill was in any immediate danger because the contaminated letter never reached any Senate offices.
“All mail goes first to an off-site facility, where it’s screened and irradiated before it reaches Capitol Hill,’’ Marter said.