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White House Briefing, Two Senate Buildings Receive Bomb Threats

A hearing about the Transportation Security Administration was halted and White House press briefing interupted after phones bomb threats.
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The White House press briefing room was evacuated mid briefing on Tuesday after a bomb threat was called into the Metropolitan Police Department.

The Secret Service came into briefing room during White House press secretary Josh Earnest's daily briefing and asked the press corps to evacuate.

Earnest and the White House press staff moved into lower press rooms. The press corps was moved outside the White House to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building's South Court auditorium.

"At the time of the briefing room evacuation, the president remained in the Oval Office and was not evacuated by the Secret Service," Earnest told reporters in a statement. "The First Lady, Malia and Sasha were in the residence and were not evacuated."

The Secret Service, in a statement, said that the White House press briefing room was evacuated as a precaution.

"At approximately 1:53 p.m. today, a telephonic bomb threat concerning the White House Briefing Room was called into the Metropolitan Police Department. As a precaution, the White House Press Briefing Room has been evacuated. This evacuation is limited to the White House Press Briefing Room and does not affect any other sections of the White House. Sweeps are ongoing at this time," the Secret Service said in a statement.

After members of the press were evacuated, Secret Service agents and K9 units did a sweep of the briefing room, and found nothing suspicious. During this sweep, all live network cameras were turned to the ceiling, or floor, or covered completely with newspaper.

The same was done to NBC News cameras outside of the West Wing of the White House.

Earnest did not have an explanation for this.

Earnest later Tweeted that the briefing would resume after having been cleared and answered reporter questions about the threat and evacuation.

Capitol police briefly ordered congressional staff to stay away from two Senate office buildings on Tuesday after reports of suspicious packages and a phoned bomb threat.

They gave the all-clear less than an hour later.

Suspicious-package reports were called in at the Dirksen Senate Office Building and the Russell Senate Office Building, both steps from the Capitol.

At the Dirksen building, police cleared several floors, interrupting an oversight hearing about the Transportation Security Administration which included a discussion on security challenges. Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, the Republican chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, calmly suspended the hearing.

“We’re clearing the floor,” he said. “So, in an orderly fashion, please exit as quickly as possible. Thank you.”