The Latest: Florida man accused of sending mail bombs
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on pipe bombs sent to prominent critics of President Donald Trump (all times local):
Federal authorities have captured a Florida man with a criminal history and a fervor for President Donald Trump and accused him of sending at least 13 mail bombs to prominent Democrats.
Justice Department officials have announced five federal charges against Cesar Sayoc, 56, of Aventura, Florida, and revealed that DNA and a fingerprint found on an envelope helped them identify the suspect after a five-day, coast-to-coast investigation. Even as he was arrested and charged, investigators scrutinized new suspicious packages believed to be tied to his plot.
FBI officials have not disclosed a motive, although Attorney General Jeff Sessions suggested politics may have played a role, noting Sayoc appeared to be a “partisan.” Sayoc’s white van was plastered with Trump’s image and political stickers.
Former Vice President Joe Biden says the United States has to come together, voicing concern with the partisan division and hatred he sees.
A target of the mail-bomb scare, Biden took a moment during a Democratic political rally in Hartford, Connecticut, Friday to speak about “all the pipe bombs, the sense of hate and terror that seems to be gripping us.”
Biden quoted passages from the W.B. Yeats poem “The Second Coming,” including the line, “Things fall apart; the center cannot hold.”
Biden says, “I hope and pray that our leaders are prepared to lower the temperature of our public dialogue,” suggesting, “We just have to remember who we are and what we stand for as a nation.”
Mail bombing suspect Cesar Sayoc was apparently a fan of Donald Trump, or at least his clothing line, even before Trump announced his candidacy for president.
Documents released Friday by the Broward County, Florida, Sheriff’s Office show Sayoc reported in May 2015 that more than $40,000 in goods were stolen from his van and an attached trailer, including 11 pieces of Donald Trump-brand clothing valued at $7,150. Specifics are not included, but Trump has a line of suits, shirts, ties and accessories.
The report shows detectives were never able to confirm whether the theft actually happened and no arrests were made.
Trump announced his candidacy in June 2015.
President Donald Trump says he knows the pipe bomb suspect was a supporter, but says he bears “no blame” for the suspect’s actions.
Speaking with reporters on the South Lawn Friday before he left for a political rally in North Carolina, Trump said, “There is no blame.”
He compared the series of threatening packages sent to prominent Democrats, former officials and CNN to how a Democratic supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders shot up a GOP baseball field last year, seriously injuring Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana.
Trump is also praising law enforcement efforts.
He says the pipe bomb incidents have hampered Republicans’ momentum moving into the midterm elections. And he is taking a jab at the media, saying journalists have been unfair to Republicans.
FBI spokesman Prentice Danner says a suspicious package seized near San Francisco and addressed to billionaire political activist Tom Steyer has several similarities to 13 explosive devices that were addressed to prominent Democrats across the country.
When asked if authorities believe the package found Friday is related to the others, Danner said the “timing and addressee would tell us yes.” But he says investigators can’t make a definitive connection until the item is examined in the FBI’s forensics lab in Quantico, Virginia.
The item was discovered in a U.S. Postal Service sorting facility in Burlingame, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) south of San Francisco.
Steyer on Friday called on the Republican Party to denounce the attacks.
The bank that foreclosed on the home of Cesar Sayoc, the suspect in the pipe bomb mailings, was formerly owned by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (mih-NOO’-shin).
Sayoc lost his home in 2009 when IndyMac moved to foreclose on his south Florida home, according to Florida property and court records. IndyMac was a California-based bank that failed during the recession and was later purchased by a group of investors that included Mnuchin. IndyMac was renamed OneWest Bank.
Further, there are signs that Sayoc may have been a victim of a controversial industry practice during the recession.
The lawyer who signed Sayoc’s foreclosure paperwork was Erica Johnson-Seck, a lawyer for OneWest. Johnson-Seck was an official at the center of OneWest’s so-called “robo-signing” scandal. Robo-signing is where banks signed off on thousands of legal documents automatically without checking their accuracy, causing thousands of people to lose their homes without proper procedures.
Johnson-Seck, in a court deposition in 2009, testified she would sign more than 750 legal documents for One West a week.
A man who operates a property management office near the Florida auto parts store where the mail bomb suspect parked his van says the suspect didn’t resist when armed police officers swarmed and arrested him.
Thomas Fiori is a former federal law enforcement officer. He says he saw an undercover police officer in a nearby SUV looking at the AutoZone store with binoculars Friday.
Fiori says within minutes he heard a small explosion, probably a device police use to distract people. He says 50 officers swarmed the suspect’s van with their firearms drawn.
Fiori says the arrested man did not resist and “had that look of, ‘I’m done, I surrender.’”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he doesn’t know why pipe bombs were sent to prominent Democrats but the arrested man “appears to be a partisan.”
The man is a registered Republican and ardent supporter of President Donald Trump.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he doesn’t know why pipe bombs were sent to prominent Democrats and CNN but says a Florida man charged in the case “appears to be a partisan.”
Sessions and other law enforcement officials are declining to speculate on whether the current divided political climate in America and President Donald Trump’s rhetoric emboldened the man. FBI Director Christopher Wray says it’s too early to discuss a motive behind the pipe bombs.
Federal authorities have charged 56-year-old Cesar Altieri Sayoc with five crimes including mailing explosives and threatening former U.S. presidents. Sayoc is a registered Republican and ardent Trump supporter who pushed far-right conspiracy theories online.
Some of Sayoc’s social media posts singled out the targets of the bombs.
Trump has called for unity but also has blamed the press for the divisive political climate.
The head of the FBI says the suspect arrested in the mail bombs sent to prominent Democrats was found in part using fingerprint evidence and possible DNA.
FBI Director Christopher Wray said Friday investigators had fingerprints of Florida resident Cesar Sayoc and had possible DNA collected from two explosive devices. Wray says they matched a fingerprint found on one of the packages that had been sent to U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters of California.
Sayoc was arrested Friday at an auto shop in Plantation, Florida. He has been charged with five crimes and faces 58 years in prison. He will be prosecuted in New York, where five of the 12 devices were found.
The mail bombs have been sent in recent days to political opponents of President Donald Trump.
FBI Director Christopher Wray says more than a dozen pipe bombs sent to prominent Democrats and CNN were “not hoax devices.”
Wray says each of the pipe bombs contained materials that could react and cause a potential explosion.
Wray made the comments Friday as federal authorities announced the charging of 56-year-old Cesar Altieri Sayoc, of Florida, with five federal crimes including mailing explosives and threatening former U.S. presidents.
Wray says federal authorities have located 13 improvised explosive devices that were assembled in a similar manner.
None of the devices has exploded and no one has been injured.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions says federal authorities are charging a 56-year-old Florida man with five federal crimes including the mailing of explosives.
Sessions says the charges carry a maximum of 58 years in prison.
Sessions announced the charges Friday just hours after federal authorities arrested Cesar Sayoc. Sayoc is accused of sending more than a dozen pipe bombs through the mail to prominent Democrats including former President Barack Obama and to CNN.
Sayoc is an amateur bodybuilder and ardent supporter of President Donald Trump who pushed far-right conspiracy theories online.
None of the devices exploded, and no one has been injured.
Sen. Kamala Harris’ office says authorities in Sacramento, California are investigating a suspicious package mailed to her.
Harris’ office says the package was similar to those that have been sent to other prominent Democrats.
The senator’s office says it was informed that the package was identified at a Sacramento mail facility. The FBI responded to the facility in a South Sacramento neighborhood that’s been blocked off by caution tape.
News of the package comes as authorities arrested a Florida man suspected of sending more than 10 mail bombs in recent days.
Harris is a Democrat serving her first term in the U.S. Senate.
A law enforcement official says that the man detained in Florida in connection with the pipe bomb scare will be prosecuted in New York City.
The official said Friday that Cesar Sayoc will face charges in federal court in Manhattan after an initial court appearance in Florida. Five of the 12 improvised devices involved in the case were recovered in the Southern District of New York.
The official wasn’t authorized to discuss the prosecution because a complaint was still being drafted and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The mail bombs have been sent in recent days to political opponents of President Donald Trump.
A Twitter account that appears to belong to the suspect in the mail-bomb scare includes repeated attacks on billionaire George Soros and praise for President Donald Trump and other Republicans.
The man was identified by law enforcement officials as Cesar Sayoc, 56, of Aventura, Florida. In linking him to the Twitter account, The Associated Press noted that it contains imagery that mirrored what appeared on the side of the van that authorities seized, in tweets that had been sent long before the explosive devices began to appear.
Authorities have not said whether the van seized in Florida was linked to Sayoc.
The tweets accuse Soros of paying off a victim from the Parkland mass shooting and accusing Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum, a Democrat, of being a Soros puppet. The account also praises Trump and other Republicans.
The account includes anti-Gillum memes, with one including the caption ”$500,000 SOROS PUPPET.” The Oct. 24 posting includes a photo of Soros doctored to look like he’s holding a puppet meant to resemble Gillum.
According to court and other public records, Cesar Sayoc, 56, has a lengthy criminal and court record in Florida. He has been convicted on theft, stolen property and traffic charges and in 2002 on a threat to “throw, place, project or discharge any destructive device.”
Sayoc is in custody in Florida in the mail bombs sent to prominent Democrats. He was born in New York.
Sayoc was sentenced in August 2002 for threatening to throw a bomb in a conversation with a Florida utility representative, according to Ronald Lowy, a Miami attorney who represented him. Dade County court records showed Sayoc served a year’s probation after a judge signed a discharge certificate in November 2002.
Lowy told The Associated Press that Sayoc “made a verbal threat when he was frustrated at a lack of service.” Lowy said Sayoc showed no ability at the time to back up his threat with bomb-making expertise.
The lawyer said Sayoc was a bodybuilder then, and displayed no political leanings except for plastering a vehicle he owned with Native American signs.
Court records also show that Sayoc was convicted in the 1990s in Broward County on grand theft and stolen property charges and in 2004 on a felony charge of fraudulent refunds and misdemeanor of tampering with physical evidence.
President Donald Trump is confirming that a suspect in the mail bomb scare is in custody and says he will be prosecuted “to the fullest extent of the law.”
Trump, in his first remarks since Cesar Sayoc, 56, was apprehended in Florida, declared that “we must never allow political violence take root in America.”
More than 10 mail bombs have been sent in recent days to political opponents of the president.
Trump declared that “these terrorizing acts are despicable” and said Americans “must unify.”
But his remarks came just hours after Trump tweeted a complaint that the media’s focus on bombs was distracting from Republican efforts in the upcoming midterm elections.
He also put the word “bomb” in quotes, a seeming nod to those who believed the scare was a hoax.
The name of the man detained in connection with the pipe bomb scare is Cesar Sayoc, 56, of Aventura, Florida, according to law enforcement officials.
Four officials familiar with the investigation identified the man to The Associated Press. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter on the record.
It was not clear whether Sayoc had been formally charged in the rash of devices addressed in recent days to Democratic figures including former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton.
Law enforcement officers were seen on television Friday examining a white van, its windows covered with an assortment of stickers, in the city of Plantation, Florida.
The stickers included images of American flags, and what appeared to be logos of the Republican National Committee and CNN, though the writing surrounding those images was unclear.
Officials covered the vehicle with a blue tarp before removing it from the Florida neighborhood where it was found.
Law enforcement officials have not said whether the van in question was connected to the person taken into custody in Florida in connection with the mail bombs sent to prominent critics of President Donald Trump.
President Donald Trump says he will “address the investigation into the bomb packages” shortly.
Trump is scheduled to speak Friday at the Young Black Leadership Summit at the White House. He tweeted that he will speak about the investigation at the event.
Trump’s tweet came after the Justice Department said federal authorities arrested a man in Florida on Friday in connection with the mail-bomb scare that widened to 12 suspicious packages.
The development came amid a coast-to-coast manhunt for the person responsible for a series of explosive devices addressed to Democrats including former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton.
Earlier in the day, Trump referenced “this “Bomb” stuff” on Twitter, saying the scare was distracting from Republican efforts in the midterm elections.
A law enforcement official says the person in custody in connection with package bombs sent to prominent Democrats is a man in his 50s.
Two other law enforcement officials said the man was taken into custody in Florida. The person’s name was not immediately released. The officials weren’t authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Authorities have located 12 devices addressed in recent days to Democratic figures including former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton.
The targets have all been high-profile critics of the president.
The Justice Department has scheduled a Friday afternoon news conference to discuss the investigation.
—By Colleen Long and Michael Balsamo
Two law enforcement officials say a person was taken into custody in Florida in connection with package bombs that were sent to high-profile critics of the president.
The officials weren’t authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation and spoke Friday to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
The person’s name was not immediately released.
Video from television news helicopters showed federal agents and police officers examining a white van in the parking lot of a business in Plantation, Florida.
The van had several stickers on the windows, including American flags.
Officials located 12 devices addressed in recent days to Democratic figures including former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton.
— By Michael Balsamo
The Justice Department says a person has been taken into custody in connection with a series of package bombs sent to prominent Democrats.
Spokeswoman Sarah Flores says a news conference is scheduled for later Friday. The person’s name was not immediately released.
Officials have located 12 devices addressed in recent days to Democratic figures including former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton.
The FBI said Friday that a package addressed to Sen. Cory Booker, of New Jersey, was intercepted in Florida. Another was discovered at a Manhattan postal facility and was addressed to former national intelligence director James Clapper at CNN’s address.
The targets have all been high-profile critics of President Donald Trump.
President Donald Trump is arguing that a mail bomb scare targeting Democratic politicians and CNN is distracting from his midterm election efforts, dismissing it as “this ‘Bomb’ stuff.”
Trump tweets Friday morning: “Republicans are doing so well in early voting, and at the polls, and now this ‘Bomb’ stuff happens and the momentum greatly slows - news not talking politics. Very unfortunate, what is going on. Republicans, go out and vote!”
The president’s comments came as two more suspicious packages were discovered Friday. They were addressed to New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and former National Intelligence Director James Clapper.
That brings the total number of devices to 12 in recent days. The targets have all been high-profile critics of the president.
Trump initially called for unity, but quickly turned to blaming the press for the divisive political climate.
A law enforcement official has confirmed to The Associated Press that the suspicious package addressed to New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker was found during an overnight search of the Opa-locka, Florida, mail facility that lasted until 4 a.m. Friday.
The official said the package was similar to the others sent to targets of right-wing anger, with the return address listed as the Sunrise, Florida, office of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. The official did not know if the package was outgoing or a return-to-sender mailing.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak to reporters on the ongoing investigation.
— By Curt Anderson in Miami
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says he is not surprised he has been targeted with a suspicious package.
Clapper told CNN Friday morning that the devices sent to prominent critics of President Donald Trump in recent days were “definitely domestic terrorism.”
Two officials told the AP that a package was discovered at a postal facility in Midtown Manhattan. One official said it was addressed to Clapper. The officials weren’t authorized to discuss the investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Clapper described the situation as “serious,” but said it is “not going to silence the administration’s critics.”
Clapper stressed that he did not want to suggest any direct link between Trump’s past rhetoric and the packages. But he said Trump should bear responsibility for the “coarseness and uncivility of the dialogue in this country.”
— By Michael R. Sisak in New York and Michael Balsamo in Washington
Robert De Niro is calling on people to vote in light of the series of bombs mailed to targets of right-wing anger.
In a statement released by his publicist on Friday, the actor says “There’s something more powerful than bombs, and that’s your vote. People must vote!”
A suspicious package containing what authorities described as a crude pipe bomb was discovered at De Niro’s New York City office on Thursday.
De Niro says he is thankful no one was hurt. He also thanked “the brave and resourceful security and law enforcement people for protecting us.”
Two law enforcement officials say a package closely resembling parcels sent to critics of President Donald Trump has been found at a postal facility in New York City.
A police bomb squad was responding to a post office in Midtown Manhattan to check out the item, which was discovered by postal workers. One official says it was addressed to former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
The officials weren’t authorized to discuss the investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Police were advising pedestrians and motorists to avoid the area while they investigate.
The post office is near several Broadway theaters
— By Michael R. Sisak in New York and Michael Balsamo in Washington
The FBI says a suspicious package addressed to New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker has been recovered in Florida and is similar in appearance to the other ones received in the last few days.
That’s the 11th package this week.
The targets of packages containing pipe bombs have been prominent critics of President Donald Trump.
Other packages have been intended for people including former President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, former Attorney General Eric Holder, philanthropist George Soros, former Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Maxine Waters.
The FBI is doing a nationwide manhunt for whoever is sending the pipe bomb packages. Officials are trying to determine if the sender or senders was trying to sow fear or actually cause physical destruction.
President Donald Trump claims he’s being blamed for the mail bombs addressed to some of his most prominent critics.
Trump says in a tweet sent before dawn Friday, “Funny how lowly rated CNN, and others, can criticize me at will, even blaming me for the current spate of Bombs and ridiculously comparing this to September 11th and the Oklahoma City bombing, yet when I criticize them they go wild and scream, ‘it’s just not Presidential!’”
Pipe bombs were sent to Trump critics including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and to ex-CIA director John Brennan at CNN but didn’t explode.
Trump tweeted Thursday much of the anger in society is caused by the “Mainstream Media.”
Brennan replied Trump should stop blaming others and should “Look in the mirror.” Brennan advises Trump to “try to act Presidential.”
CNN hasn’t responded to messages seeking comment before business hours.
Investigators have been searching coast-to-coast for the culprit and motives behind the bizarre mail-bomb plot aimed at critics of the president, analyzing the innards of the crude devices to reveal whether they were intended to detonate or simply sow fear two weeks before Election Day.
Three more devices were linked to the plot Thursday — two addressed to former Vice President Joe Biden and one to actor Robert De Niro — bringing the total to 10 in an outbreak of politically loaded menace with little if any precedent.
Law enforcement officials told The Associated Press that the devices, containing timers and batteries, were not rigged like booby-trapped package bombs that would explode upon opening. A search of a postal database suggested at least some may have been mailed from Florida.
For the AP’s complete coverage of the mail-bomb scare: https://apnews.com/PipeBombAttacks