Federal authorities on Friday arrested Cesar Sayoc of Florida in connection with a series of attempted bombings of high-ranking Democrats and media figures, which spawned a massive federal investigation over the past week.
Sayoc was reportedly arrested in Plantation, Florida, at an auto parts store. His van, which was reportedly plastered with stickers supporting President Trump and taking aim at prominent Democrats and CNN. The vehicle was recovered as evidence and has been taken to an FBI evidence center for inspection.
According to arrest records, Sayoc has an extensive criminal history, including charges of larceny, grand theft and fraud. In 2002 he was arrested by Miami police for making a bomb threat, for which he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to probation.
Sayoc is reportedly a registered Republican and was allegedly spotted at a number of Trump rallies. According to Buzzfeed News, he allegedly engaged with conspiracy theories about how Hillary Clinton and other Democrats were working to undermine the United States, often using the n-word to describe African-American political leaders.
— Mahmud mohamed (@thereal_mo01) October 26, 2018
Over the past week, at least 12 crude explosive devices were sent to a variety of Democratic figures, including President Obama, the Clintons, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), Sen. Corey Booker (D-NJ), and former Vice-President Joe Biden.
Liberal philanthropist George Soros was the first to receive one of the packages on Monday, and a bomb, addressed to former CIA director John Brennan, was also sent to CNN’s New York City office on Wednesday, which spawned a mass evacuation. On Thursday, a device bound for Biden was discovered, as was an additional package addressed to actor Robert de Niro.
According to the FBI the explosive devices, which were described as IEDs, contained PVC piping, battery, wiring and “energetic material,” which refers to potential explosive material. They stressed that it was not hoax material.
FBI Director Christopher Wray added that the FBI crime lab had found a latent fingerprint “from one of the envelopes containing an IED” which had been sent to Congresswoman Waters. That, combined with DNA samples found on several of the envelopes, which matched “previously collected [samples]…from…an earlier arrest down in Florida,” led investigators to Sayoc.
— Mike Scarcella (@MikeScarcella) October 26, 2018
At a press conference on Friday afternoon, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that Sayoc has been charged with five federal crimes and is facing up to 58 years in prison.
“This is utterly unacceptable. Political violence is antithetical to our vigorous system of self-government,” Sessions said. “It is a threat to that respect for law and process that allows our people to accept legislation, elections, court rulings with which they do not agree.”
The attempted bombings triggered a wave of conspiracies which mirrored those for which Sayoc showed support on social media and in the stickers on his van. Mainstream conservatives like Candace Owens, Ann Coulter, and Fox Business host Lou Dobbs all voiced support for the rumor that the attacks were false-flag operations designed to discredit conservatives.
Trump himself waded into the fray Friday, complaining on Twitter that “this ‘Bomb’ stuff” had stifled Republican momentum in advance of the midterms.
During an address at the White House on Friday, Trump praised the work of law enforcement in finding the suspected bomber, and confirmed the devices had targeted “high-profile figures throughout our country and a media organization.”
As CNN’s Oliver Darcy noted, he neglected to mention the name of the media organization or the political affiliations of those targeted, many of whom the president himself has criticized or mocked in the past.