Federal law enforcement officials laid out their case against Cesar Sayoc Jr., the Florida man arrested in connection with the series of bombs mailed to CNN, prominent Democrats and critics of President Donald Trump.
“Physical violence and the threat of violence is antithetical to our vigorous system of self-government,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said at a news conference at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.. He then announced five federal felony charges against Sayoc, 56, who is in FBI custody. The 56-year-old suspect — whose van is plastered with pro-Trump stickers and photos of well-known Democrats with crosshairs over them — is charged with interstate transportation of explosives, illegal mailing of explosives, threats against a former president and certain other persons, threatening interstate communications and assaulting current and former federal officers.
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“These charges may change or expand as the investigation proceeds,” Sessions said. If convicted on all counts, he faces a maximum of 58 years in federal prison.
“These are not ‘hoax’ devices,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said at the presser.
“This is a law-and-order administration,” Wray said. “We will not tolerate such lawlessness, especially not political violence. … Let this be a lesson to anyone, regardless of their political beliefs, that we will bring the full force of law against anyone who attempts to use threats, intimidation and outright violence to further an agenda.”
Wray said the FBI “uncovered a latent fingerprint from one of the envelopes containing an IED that had been sent to Congresswoman Maxine Waters. We have confirmed this fingerprint is that of Cesar Sayoc.” Wray also outlined other DNA evidence tied to the suspect.
Asked about why the suspect targeted Democrats with the mail bombs, Sessions said, “I don’t know, other than what you might expect. He appears to be a partisan, but that would be determined by the facts as the case goes forward.”
At least a dozen bombs were mailed to prominent Democrats this week, including former President and first lady Barack and Michelle Obama, 2016 presidential nominee Sen. Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton, former VP Joe Biden, former Attorney General Eric Holder, Rep. Maxine Waters, former CIA director James Brennan (in care of CNN) and billionaire Dem contributor George Soros. Just today, packages were found that were addressed to Sens. Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and anti-Trump agitator Tom Steyer. Oscar winner and outspoken Trump critic Robert De Niro also was targeted.
Sessions and Wray both thanked the multiple federal and local law enforcement agencies involved in the probe, but Wray noted that more devices still might out there.
Sessions’ comment that Sayoc “appears to be a partisan” counters right-wing media coverage and conspiracy theories suggesting that the mailings were a “false flag” operation staged to assist Democrats in the upcoming mid-term elections. Earlier today, apparently after law enforcement had already targeted Sayoc as a suspect, the president referred in a tweet to “this ‘Bomb’ stuff,” putting bomb in quotes.
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