White House reportedly pushed CDC hard to fall in line on sending kids to school, sought alternate safety data

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began working in early summer on guidance for sending children back to school, and the White House then “spent weeks trying to press public health professionals to fall in line with President Trump’s election-year agenda of pushing to reopen schools and the economy as quickly as possible,” The New York Times reported Monday night, citing documents and interviews with current and former government officials.

This “strikingly political intervention in one of the most sensitive public health debates of the pandemic” included searching for “alternate data” that suggested children were at little or no risk from the coronavirus, the Times reports, and trying to swap in guidance from a little-known Health and Human Services Department agency, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

SAMHSA was focused on the emotional and mental health toll remote school could have on children, but CDC scientists found multiple problems with the agency’s assertion that COVID-19 posed a low health and transmission risk for children. That’s the language the White House was most interested in, though, and throughout the summer the CDC won some battles and lost others trying to keep it out of public guidance, the Times documents.

Olivia Troye, one of Vice President Mike Pence’s envoys on the White House coronavirus task force until leaving the administration in July, told the Times she regrets being “complicit” in the effort to pressure the CDC to make children look safer than the data supported. She said when she tried to shield the CDC, Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, charged “more junior staff” to “develop charts” for White House briefings.

In early July, several prominent medical groups, including the American Association of Pediatrics, advised sending kids back to school with stringent safety measures, in part because the data at the time suggested lower risk for kids. “More recently, data compiled by the academy from recent months shows that hospitalizations and deaths from the coronavirus have increased at a faster rate in children and teenagers than among the general public,” the Times reports. Read more at The New York Times.

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Woman charged with sending ricin to the White House pleads not guilty, will be held without bail

A woman charged with making threats against President Trump by mailing a package containing ricin to the White House was ordered held without bail Monday by a judge in Buffalo who cited “a very strong case” against her based on an indictment in Washington, D.C.

Pascale Ferrier, 53, of a Montreal suburb, was arrested a week ago as she tried to enter the U.S. through a border crossing between Fort Erie, Ontario, and Buffalo. Her lawyer entered a not guilty plea on her behalf Monday.

U.S. Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder Jr. cited a long history of assassinations and attempted assassinations of U.S. presidents since the killing of President Abraham Lincoln in finding that Ferrier was an ongoing threat to the president and others.

He also read from a letter that prosecutors allege Ferrier wrote to Trump and included in the ricin-laden container, in which she allegedly threatened to find a more dangerous poison or to use her gun to stop him from his presidential campaign.

“It would appear to me the government has a very strong case, especially assuming the legal validity of the alleged admissions at the time of her arrest,” Schroeder said of the woman, who has French and Canadian citizenship.

He ordered her transfer to Washington to face the one-count indictment.

The envelope containing the toxic substance and the threatening letter was addressed to the White House but was intercepted at a mail sorting facility on September 18. No one was harmed.

Besides the letter’s threats was a command to Trump to “give up and remove our application for this election,” authorities said.

The FBI discovered that six additional similar letters appeared to have been received in Texas a few days earlier, according to a criminal complaint.

Her lawyer, Fonda Dawn Kubiak, argued that she should be granted bail. “As Ms. Ferrier sits here today, she is presumed innocent,” Kubiak said.

She called her client “highly educated” with the equivalent of a master’s degree in engineering in France and who was employed by an aircraft engineering company.

Kubiak said Ferrier could reside with her son in Quebec or possibly with family members in Texas.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Lynch said Ferrier was trying to enter the United States last week when an officer approached and asked if she was OK. “No, I’m wanted by the FBI for the ricin envelope,” he quoted her as responding.

He said authorities handcuffed her and searched her vehicle, in which they found a semiautomatic handgun loaded with seven rounds of ammunition, nearly 300 rounds of other ammunition, pepper spray, a knife and a stun gun.

“She was loaded for bear, Judge,” the prosecutor said.

He said that ricin had been located at her apartment outside Montreal and that she was likely to face additional charges in Washington, Texas and Buffalo.

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Canadian woman suspected of sending White House a ricin package pleads not guilty

A Canadian woman suspected of mailing a package containing ricin to the White House last week appeared in court Tuesday afternoon where she pleaded not guilty.

Pascale Ferrier, of Quebec, was arrested Sunday at the New York-Canada border on a charge of threatening the president. Her court appearance was brief and U.S. Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder Jr. entered a not-guilty plea on her behalf.

This photo provided by the Hidalgo County (Texas) Sheriff's Office, showing the booking photo of Pascale Ferrier. 

This photo provided by the Hidalgo County (Texas) Sheriff’s Office, showing the booking photo of Pascale Ferrier. 
(Hidalgo County (Texas) Sheriff’s Office, via AP)

Ferrier, who wore a tan jail jumpsuit, had her hands in cuffs and a chain around her waist. A blue mask covered much of her face as she spoke only briefly to answer the judge’s questions.

Through an interpreter and her attorney, she also asked for an identity hearing — which would compel the government to prove that she is indeed the person for whom the arrest warrant was issued — and a probable cause hearing for the government to prove there is sufficient cause to proceed in the case. The judge ordered her held without bail.

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Her attorney, Fonda Kubiak, said Ferrier was exercising her rights to those hearings, which were scheduled for Monday.

“She has a presumption of innocence and that’ll be pursued further after today,” Kubiak said outside the courthouse.

A Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer walks outside of an apartment complex Monday, Sept. 21, 2020, in St-Hubert, Quebec, during a raid in connection with an envelope containing the poison ricin, which was addressed to the White House. 

A Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer walks outside of an apartment complex Monday, Sept. 21, 2020, in St-Hubert, Quebec, during a raid in connection with an envelope containing the poison ricin, which was addressed to the White House. 
(The Canadian Press via AP)

The package, postmarked from Canada and addressed to the White House, was sent sometime last week and intercepted at a mail sorting facility on Friday. It included a letter that included disparaging remarks about the president, according to an FBI affidavit filed in the case.

During the investigation, the FBI discovered that six additional similar letters appeared to have been received in Texas in September and also had stamps indicating that they’d been mailed from Canada, according to court papers.

Those letters “contained similar language” to the letter that was sent to Trump and were sent to people affiliated with facilities where Ferrier had been jailed in 2019.

Investigators also matched Ferrier’s fingerprints from four of the letters, the complaint said. In Facebook and Twitter posts in September, Ferrier also wrote threatening messages against the president and used similar wording as she did in the letter, according to the document.

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When she was arrested Sunday while trying to enter a border crossing in Buffalo, Ferrier told Customs and Border Patrol agents that she was “wanted by the FBI for the ricin letters,” the complaint said. Officers found a loaded gun in her waistband and said she was also carrying a knife.

Ferrier was booked into the Hidalgo County jail in March of 2019

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Canadian woman charged with sending ricin-laced letter to White House

A Canadian woman has been charged with threatening President Donald Trump by mailing a letter laced with the deadly poison ricin to the White House, according to a criminal complaint unsealed Tuesday.

The woman, Pascale Cecile Veronique Ferrier, 53, who lives in Quebec, was carrying a knife and a loaded gun tucked into her waistband when she was taken into custody along the U.S.–Canada border Sunday, prosecutors said.

“I found a new name for you: ‘The Ugly Tyrant Clown,'” read a rambling note found inside the letter that arrived at the White House’s mail sorting center Friday, according to court documents.

“You ruin USA and lead them to disaster. I don’t want the next 4 years with you as president. Give up and remove your application for this election. So I made a ‘Special Gift’ for you to make a decision. This gift is in this letter. If it doesn’t work, I’ll find better recipe for another poison, or I might use my gun when I’ll be able to come.”

Ferrier is also alleged to have sent letters containing a powdery substance to people at jails and detention centers in Texas, where she had recently been arrested on weapons charges. Those letters, like the letter addressed to Trump, also used the phrase “if it doesn’t work I will find a better recipe,” the complaint said.

Ferrier was taken into custody after investigators matched her fingerprints on the letters recovered in Texas with fingerprints of Ferrier in FBI databases.

The FBI said that on Sept. 9, she made postings on Twitter and Facebook saying “#killTrump” and used the same phrase found in the letter to the president: “Ugly Clown Tyrant.”

According to the complaint, she told Customs and Border Protection officers at the U.S.-Canadian border crossing in Buffalo, New York, that she was wanted by the FBI for the ricin letters.

Ferrier was ordered held without bail at her initial court appearance in Buffalo. Her lawyer could not immediately be reached for comment.

Daniella Silva contributed.

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Woman accused of sending ricin letter to White House charged with making threats against the president

A letter sent to the White House containing the toxic powder ricin has been traced back to Pascale Ferrier, a woman who was arrested on Sunday while trying to cross the U.S. border from Canada, authorities said Tuesday. Ferrier has been charged with making threats against the president of the United States. 

At her initial court appearance in Buffalo on Tuesday, Ferrier asked the court to appoint a federal defender, which will be paid for by American taxpayers. That defender requested an identity hearing, in which the court would determine that she is in fact the person named in the criminal complaint and the arrest warrant, as well as a probable cause hearing. 

Ferrier’s next hearings, which will include the identity and probable cause hearing, were scheduled for September 28. She was returned to the custody of U.S. Marshals. 

Court documents released Tuesday detail how on Friday, the U.S. Secret Service flagged the letter postmarked from Canada to the FBI. The FBI found that it “contained a white, powdery material,” which was later confirmed to be ricin.

The letter also contained a note Ferrier allegedly wrote to the president, calling him “The Ugly Tyrant Clown”  and claiming he, “…ruin[ed] USA and lead them to disaster,” according to the documents.

“I have US cousins, then I don’t want the next 4 years with you as president. Give up and remove your application for this election,” Ferrier allegedly wrote to Mr. Trump. “So I made a “Special Gift” for you to make a decision. This gift is in this letter. If it doesn’t work, I’ll find better recipe for another poison, or I might use my gun when I’ll be able to come. Enjoy! FREE REBEL SPIRIT!”

The affidavit claims that Ferrier made similar negative comments about the President on her social media accounts.

pascale-ferrier.jpg
A mug shot of Pascale Ferrier

The Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office


Law enforcement officials said they learned during the toxin screening that six additional letters sent from Canada had been turned over to FBI field offices in Texas earlier in the week. Those letters were allegedly addressed to individuals employed at penitentiaries and detention centers in the state. The letters also allegedly contained a powdery substance, had matching language, and were similarly signed “FREE REBEL SPIRIT.” Law enforcement officials said they were also able to identify her fingerprints on four of the letters in San Antonio.

Ferrier was previously arrested in March 2019 by the Mission Police in Texas for weapons possession and was transferred into ICE custody. According to court documents, the letters sent to Texas were addressed to individuals that worked at facilities at which she was held during her detention in 2019.

When Ferrier was arrested Sunday while trying to enter the U.S. from the Peace Bridge in Buffalo, she allegedly told CBP officers she was “…wanted by the FBI for the ricin letters” and had a gun and a knife in her possession.

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Woman Suspected of Sending Ricin-Filled Envelope to White House to Appear in Court | World News

(Reuters) – A woman arrested by U.S. authorities on suspicion of sending a ricin-filled envelope to the White House and to five other addresses in Texas will appear before a federal court in Buffalo, New York, later on Tuesday.

U.S. authorities arrested a woman on the Canada-U.S. border on Sunday, at the so-called Peace Bridge that runs between Fort Erie, Ontario, and Buffalo.

She is due to make her initial appearance at U.S. District Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder Jr. at 4 p.m. EDT (2000 GMT). She has yet not been officially identified.

The envelope was intercepted at a government mail center before it arrived at the White House, Canadian police said on Saturday.

Canadian police on Monday searched an apartment in a Montreal suburb linked to the woman. She has joint Canadian and French citizenship, two sources said.

The woman is suspected of sending a total of six letters, with the other five addressed to law enforcement and detention facilities in South Texas, according to a U.S. law enforcement source.

So far no links to political or terrorist groups have been found, but the investigation is ongoing, the source said.

The police department in Mission, Texas, received a suspicious letter within the last week, Art Flores, a spokesman for the department, said on Monday. The department did not open the envelope and turned it over to the FBI, he said.

Flores also said the Mission police had arrested the woman now believed to be held in Buffalo in early 2019.

Ricin is found naturally in castor beans but it takes a deliberate act to convert it into a biological weapon. Ricin can cause death within 36 to 72 hours from exposure to an amount as small as a pinhead. No known antidote exists.

(Reporting by Christinne Muschi in Longueuil, Steve Scherer in Ottawa and Mark Hosenball in Washington, additional reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa, writing by Steve Scherer; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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Woman arrested for allegedly sending envelope containing ricin to White House

A woman suspected of sending an envelope containing the poison ricin, which was addressed to the White House, has been arrested at the New York-Canada border. The woman is also suspected of sending similar poisoned envelopes to law enforcement agencies in Texas, officials said Monday.

The letter had been intercepted earlier this week before it reached the White House. The woman was taken into custody by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Peace Bridge border crossing near Buffalo and is expected to face federal charges, three law enforcement officials told The Associated Press.

CBS News has also learned that the woman was carrying a gun when she was arrested.

Her name was not immediately released, but the woman was expected to appear in federal court in Buffalo on Tuesday. The U.S. Attorney’s office in Buffalo said the hearing, scheduled for 4pm Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder, Jr., will occur in person, not virtually.

Police officers block a street leading to a condo building in Longueil
Police officers block a street leading to a condo building related to an investigation into the ricin-filled envelope sent to the White House, as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives team checks the area in Longueuil, Quebec, Canada September 21, 2020.

CHRISTINNE MUSCHI / REUTERS


The letter addressed to the White House appeared to have originated in Canada, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have said. It was intercepted at a government facility that screens mail addressed to the White House and President Donald Trump and a preliminary investigation indicated it tested positive for ricin, according to the officials. The RCMP would not confirm if the suspect is an Canadian or American national. 

“Our Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives team (CBRNE) is leading the operation,” the RCMP said.

Envelopes containing ricin were also mailed to law enforcement agencies in the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas, according to another law enforcement official. The official did not say which agencies were sent the envelopes but said they are believed to have been mailed by the same person who sent one to the White House.

The officials were not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

One of the envelopes was sent to the police in Mission, Texas, said Investigator Art Flores, a spokesman for the border community’s police department. He said no one was hurt and that the envelope was in law enforcement’s custody. He declined to comment further.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Quebec confirmed Monday there is a police investigation taking place on a street in St-Hubert, Quebec, related to the contaminated letter sent to the White House.

The home is connected to the woman who was arrested at the border and although authorities have yet to determine whether she

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Suspect arrested for allegedly sending ricin-tainted letter to White House

WASHINGTON — A woman suspected of sending a letter containing the deadly poison ricin to the White House was arrested trying to enter the United States from Canada, two federal law enforcement officials said Sunday.

An FBI spokesperson confirmed the arrest and said the agency is continuing to investigate the suspicious letter.

A federal law enforcement official said the woman was taken into custody while traveling across Peace Bridge, which connects Fort Erie, Ontario, and Buffalo, New York.

Another federal law enforcement official said the suspect was detained by Customs and Border Protection agents. Additional information about the arrest and the suspect was not immediately available.

The FBI said Saturday that it was investigating a suspicious letter addressed to President Donald Trump that had been intercepted.

It wasn’t clear when the letter was sent or where it was intercepted. Law enforcement officials said Saturday that the poison, which is highly toxic and can cause organ failure and death, was detected at an off-site facility that screens mail addressed to the White House.

The ricin was confirmed in field and laboratory tests.

The suspect allegedly sent other letters to federal prisons that were discovered in different facilities, an official told NBC News Saturday. It wasn’t immediately clear which prisons the letters were sent to or who the recipients were.

The official said only one letter appeared to be addressed to a political figure.

Pete Williams and Michael Kosnar reported from Washington and Tim Stelloh from California.

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Woman suspected of sending ricin to White House arrested near Canada border

An arrest was made in the investigation into an envelope addressed to the White House that was intercepted Saturday and deemed “suspicious,” the FBI said in a statement on Sunday.

The Associated Press, citing three law enforcement officials, reported that a woman has been arrested on the New York-Canada border. She is suspected of sending an envelope with poison ricin.

The woman was taken into custody by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Peace Bridge border crossing near Buffalo and is expected to face federal charges, the officials said. Her name was not immediately released.

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The individual who was arrested is believed to be the person who sent the letter, according to the FBI Washington field office.

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According to Mayo Clinic, Ricin is poisonous and can be produced from the waste that results from processing castor beans. There is no vaccine or antidote for the poison.

A Navy veteran was arrested in 2018 and confessed to sending envelopes to Trump and members of his administration that contained the substance from which ricin is derived.

Fox News’ Sam Dorman and the Associated Press contributed to this report

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AP sources: Woman accused of sending ricin letter addressed to White House arrested

A woman suspected of sending an envelope containing the poison ricin, which was addressed to White House, has been arrested at New York-Canada border, three law enforcement officials told The Associated Press on Sunday.

The letter had been intercepted before it reached the White House. The woman was taken into custody by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Peace Bridge border crossing near Buffalo and is expected to face federal charges, the officials said. Her name was not immediately released.

The letter addressed to the White House appeared to have originated in Canada, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have said. It was intercepted at a government facility that screens mail addressed to the White House and President Trump, and a preliminary investigation indicated it tested positive for ricin, according to the officials.

The officials were not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

There have been several prior instances in which U.S. officials have been targeted with ricin sent through the mail.

A Navy veteran was arrested in 2018 and confessed to sending envelopes to Trump and members of his administration that contained the substance from which ricin is derived. The letters were intercepted, and no one was hurt.

In 2014, a Mississippi man was sentenced to 25 years in prison after sending letters dusted with ricin to President Obama and other officials.

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