US Authorities: Mail Bomb Suspect Had List of Other Potential Targets
Cesar Sayoc, the man accused of mailing at least 13 packages containing explosive devices to critics of U.S. President Donald Trump, had a list of more than 100 other potential targets, law enforcement officials said Monday.
U.S. news accounts said authorities believe that Sayoc was making his way through the list, which NBC said included journalists and entertainers, when he was apprehended last week. He is accused of mailing suspected explosives to, among others, former President Barack Obama; former Vice President Joe Biden, a potential 2020 opponent of Trump; Trump's 2016 Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton; and two national security officials who served in Obama's administration.
The 56-year-old Sayoc made his first court appearance in Miami, Florida, not far from where he was arrested.
Prosecutors told a judge they believe Sayoc is a flight risk and a danger to the community and should not be released on bond. The judge set another hearing for Friday on whether to free Sayoc pending trial and whether to transfer his case to a New York court.
Federal agents apprehended Sayoc on Friday near the white van that he appeared to use as a home and which police have hauled away. Several of the vehicle's windows were plastered with pro-Trump stickers, American flags or with crosshairs over the faces of Trump opponents. One sticker targeted the television news network Trump calls "Fake News," saying, "CNN Sucks."
Another suspicious package addressed to CNN, where Sayoc allegedly mailed two of his devices, was intercepted Monday at an Atlanta post office. The FBI said the package was similar to those mailed to the network's New York offices last week. CNN's president Jeff Zucker said there was no danger to the organization's headquarters in Atlanta.
Sayoc faces five federal charges in connection with the mail bomb plot. Packages with the explosives, none of which detonated, were mailed to several leading Democratic opponents of Trump.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions says that Sayoc, who at various times has worked as a night club disc jockey, bouncer and pizza delivery driver, could face up to 48 years in prison if convicted.
FBI Director Christopher Wray said 13 improvised explosive devices were sent in the packages, and each mailing included 15 centimeters of PVC pipe, a small clock and potentially explosive material.
"These are not hoax devices," Wray said of the bombs. Authorities told The Associated Press the devices were not rigged to explode when the packages were opened, but added they were not sure if that was because the devices were poorly made or not intended to cause harm.
The FBI chief said a fingerprint found on one package led investigators to Sayoc and that possible DNA evidence was discovered on another package.
Sayoc was previously known to law enforcement officials and had been arrested nearly a dozen times in Florida, including in 2002 for making a bomb threat. His first arrest in the state was at age 29 for larceny. Other charges against him have included grand theft, fraud and illegal possession of steroids.
His arrest Friday came just hours after the FBI intercepted two more suspicious packages, one addressed to Democratic Senator Cory Booker, the other to former National Intelligence Director James Clapper. And even as Sayoc was being detained, officials said investigators were looking at a package sent to the office of California Democratic Senator Kamala Harris.
Clapper said Friday morning on CNN that he was not surprised he was targeted and described the incidents as "serious."
Trump vowed that anyone responsible for mailing the suspicious packages would be prosecuted to the "fullest extent of the law."
"We must never allow political violence to take root in America," Trump told the Young Black Leadership Summit at the White House.
Later Friday, Trump told a political rally in Charlotte, North Carolina, that the media were to blame for polarizing the country.
"We have seen an effort by the media in recent hours to use the sinister actions of one individual to score political points against me and the Republican Party." He said the media's "constant unfair coverage, deep hostility and negative attacks" only serve to "drive people apart."
In a tweet earlier Friday, Trump referred to the investigation as this "Bomb" stuff, which he blamed for taking focus away from the midterm elections set for next Tuesday, Nov. 6.