Jeff Sessions confirms suspected bomber Cesar Sayoc is a "partisan"

"Let this be a lesson to anyone, regardless of their political beliefs, that we will bring the full force of law"

Published October 26, 2018 4:14PM (EDT)

Jeff Sessions (Getty/Paul J. Richards)
Jeff Sessions (Getty/Paul J. Richards)

The Justice Department confirmed Cesar Sayoc, Jr., 56, of Aventura, Florida has been arrested in the probe involving the dozen of suspicious packages containing explosive devices addressed to President Donald Trump's loudest political critics.

"This person appears to be a partisan," Attorney General Jeff Sessions said at a press conference Friday afternoon.

Sessions said Sayoc "has been charged with five federal crimes, including interstate transportation of an explosive, illegal mailing of explosives, threats against a former president and certain other persons, threatening interstate communications and assaulting former and current federal officers."

Sayoc faces up to 48 years in prison, Sessions says and warned that the charges may "change or expand as the investigation proceeds."

"This is a law and order administration. We will not tolerate such lawlessness, especially political violence," Sessions said. He warned, "Let this be a lesson to anyone, regardless of their political beliefs, that we will bring the full force of law against anyone that who attempts to use threats, intimidation and outright violence to further an agenda. We will find you, we will prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law."

FBI director Christopher Wray said, "We can confirm that 13 IEDs (improvised explosive device) were sent to various individuals across the country." He warned that while the FBI is continuing to analyze the devices, "these are not hoax devices." Wray did not address the conspiracy theory, spread by conservative lawmakers and commentators, that the series of suspicious packages containing explosive devices were sent to boost support for progressives two weeks ahead of the midterm elections.

He also noted that additional devices may have been sent to other locations and warned the public not to touch or handle any suspicious packages. He encouraged the public to contact the FBI if they have any information. "

The FBI said that additional devices may have been sent to other locations and warned the public not to touch or handle any suspicious packages. "No piece of information is too small. Every tip could be the one that leads to something important. We need all hands on deck. We need to stay vigilant," Wray said.

Earlier on Friday, authorities were examining a suspicious package intended for Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and discovered at a mail facility in Sacramento. Law enforcement officials did not confirm if this suspicious package matches the others in recent reports.

Sayoc, the Florida man charged in connection with the 13 mail bombs, was taken into custody earlier on Friday in the Sunshine State. A fingerprint found on a package sent to Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., was linked to Sayoc, Wray said at the Friday press conference. DNA that could be linked to Sayoc was recovered from two different improvised explosive devices, he said.

Earlier on Friday, authorities towed Sayoc's white van, which had "pictures of Trump and the presidential seal plastered to the windows," as well as a "CNN sucks" sticker.

Sayoc has a lengthy criminal record. He was sentenced in August 2002 for allegedly threatening to throw a bomb while in conversation with a Florida utility representative, the Washington Post reports, citing Ronald Lowy, a Miami attorney who represented him. Sayoc pleaded guilty and was given a special sentence in which probation is ordered but a formal conviction is not made. He served a year's probation.

He was also arrested on grand theft and stolen property charges in 1992 and on a felony charge of fraudulent refunds and a misdemeanor charge of tampering with physical evidence in 2004, according to The Post. In   2014, and filed for bankruptcy in 2012. He is also a registered Republican, NBC News reports, citing public records.

Among the Democratic figures targeted among the mail bombings were high-ranking officials in the Obama administration: former President Barack Obama, himself; former Vice President Joe Biden, who is considered an early frontrunner in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary; former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who ran against Trump in the 2016 election; former Attorney General Eric Holder, another possible 2020 candidate; former CIA Director John Brennan; and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., are current legislators who were targeted, as well as the billionaire funder of progressive causes George Soros and the actor Robert De Niro.

President Trump called on the American public to unify shortly after Sayoc was arrested.

"The bottom line is that Americans must unify," Trump said before addressing attendees at the previously scheduled Young Black Leadership Summit at the White House. "We must show the world that we are united together in peace and love and harmony, as fellow American citizens. There is no country like our country."

By Shira Tarlo

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