The nation is on edge as mail bombs continue to show up at the offices, homes and buildings of Donald Trump’s critics, despite the FBI arrest Friday morning of a Plantation, Florida man believed to be the suspected bomb-maker.
At a Friday news conference at the Department of Justice, FBI Director Christopher Wray said an isolated fingerprint found on a device sent to California Rep. Maxine Waters lead the coordinated efforts of federal, state and local law enforcement to arrest Cesar Sayoc Jr., 56, who has a criminal record and is well-known on social media for his extreme support of Trump and hatred for Trump’s critics. Wray says he has been charged with five federal crimes: interstate transportation of explosives, illegal mailing of explosives, threats against former presidents and other high ranking people, threatening interstate communications and assaulting current and former federal officers. Sayoc faces up to 58 years in prison, if convicted.
Countering an avalanche of right wing conspiracy theories that the devices were hoaxes and “false flags” – that the bombs were really fakes sent by fear-mongering Democrats— Wray said the 13 IED’s (improvised explosive devices) found so far “are not hoax devices” and while fortuitously none exploded, they contain “energetic material” that could be “dangerous” to the public and the targets.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he did not know why the devices were sent to Democrats, “other than what you might normally expect,” the suspect “appears to be a partisan.” Sessions, who is rumored to be on a shortlist to be fired by Trump after the midterms, also said, “We will not tolerate political violence,” while not linking it to the violence inspired by Trump’s political rhetoric.
Wray said it is “to early to discuss motivation” but “I do believe we caught the right guy.” However, the investigation is ongoing with “plenty of unanswered questions” for which the FBI would appreciate the public’s help.
Sayoc’s arrest “doesn’t mean we’re all out of the woods,” Wray said. “We need the help of everyone out there” to call 1-800-CALL-FBI. “No piece of information is too small….We need all hands on decks” and for the public to “stay vigilant” in case there are more mail pipe bombs en route to other Trump-critic targets.
One point Wray made that so far has escaped attention but may cause Trump some anguish is his emphasis on the “extraordinary” coordination among law enforcement agencies that is “exactly what the doctor ordered at this time.”
In normal times, President Trump would have been notified immediately yesterday when they found a suspect in the five-day nationwide threat to former presidents and current and former high ranking officials. However, Trump complained in two early morning tweets about how this “’Bomb’ stuff” has slowed Republican “momentum” going into the midterm elections. Reading from a tele-promoter at a small White House event later, he, too, said political violence would not be tolerated. But he then smiled and nodded when a participant yelled “CNN Sucks” – though CNN was one of the suspect’s targets. He complained that he gets “attacked all the time” by the fake news.
Sayoc has a criminal history and is well-known as a mega-Trump supporter. His Twitter and Facebook pages are replete with images of himself at Trump rallies and his van is plastered with pro-Trump-Pence stickers and images of Trump critics “X-ed” out.
The most recent pipe-bomb-like device was found in a package at Sen. Kamala Harris’ Sacramento office. This is an especially difficult time for Harris and her staff with the loss of her beloved Press Secretary Tyrone Gayle to cancer. Gayle, a former Hillary for America staffer, was respectful of the press, including the Los Angeles Blade.
Rep. Maxine Waters—who has loudly and often called for Trump’s impeachment—was targeted with two pipe bombs.”We have to keep to doing what we’re doing in order to make this country right. That’s what I intend to do, and as the young people say, ‘I ain’t scared,'” Waters told Blavity in a video interview on Thursday. “We must not be intimidated to the point that we stop advocating and protesting for justice.”
Late Thursday night, law enforcement investigated suspicious packages outside Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s local offices at 11111 Santa Monica Blvd. that turned out not to be threatening. Friday morning, officials also investigated a suspicious package sent to billionaire Democratic activist Tom Steyer in Burlingame.
Two more suspicious packages—one addressed to New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, and another to former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper—were intercepted by authorities in Florida and New York City.
The newly discovered devices bring to 13 the number of IED mail bombs sent to prominent figures including former President Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton, former Vice President Joe Biden, former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton, former Attorney Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr., former Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper, former CIA Director John Brennan, Sens. Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, Rep. Maxine Waters, investor and philanthropist George Soros, Hollywood star Robert De Niro and a Trump favorite “enemy,” CNN.
Donald Trump has apparently not contacted any of the targets to ask about their well-being.
In normal times, whether the IEDs detonated or not, whether anyone “high ranking” or a frontline postal inspector or a member of the public was killed as collateral damage—13 mail bombs sent during a specific time period would be considered a mass assassination attempt of former Presidents and highly visible Democrats.
Surely this should be more shocking.