MANHATTAN (CN) — Not long after confessing that he sent 16 pipe bombs to prominent Democrats, financiers, celebrities and two CNN newsrooms, the man who came to become known as the #MAGABomber got a case of cold feet.
In two handwritten letters from prison last year, jailed Florida resident Cesar Sayoc tried to walk back his admission that the devices could have harmed anybody. The convicted domestic terrorist reversed himself again on Monday, this time in person.
“You knew, didn’t you, if those [devices] exploded or caught fire or in any other way detonated, that it could injure either property or persons?” U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff asked at a hearing in New York.
“Yes, sir,” Sayoc responded faintly.
The admission sharply contrasted what Sayoc wrote in two now-public letters.
“I Realized that it was the wrong thing to say, Because under no circumstances my intent was to Hurt or Harm anyone,” Sayoc scrawled in one idiosyncratically capitalized missive. “The intention was only intimidate + scare.”
The second jailhouse message featured a revised transcript from his March hearing, and a third message on its way to the courthouse still has not yet hit the docket.
Though Rakoff appeared willing Monday to vacate Sayoc’s plea based on his letters, he upheld the convictions on the basis of the 57-year-old’s affirmations in court.
It is undisputed that Sayoc’s parcels were filled with combustible materials.
“Inside the plastic pipe was powder from fireworks, fertilizer, pool shock and some glass fragments,” Sayoc said in a prepared statement last month. “I also put pictures of the recipients with red Xs over their faces inside the package.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Richman revealed that a 100-page FBI report confirmed that the packages could have been deadly.
“If properly assembled and initiated, they could have exploded,” Richman stated, summarizing the report.
Eager to soothe her antsy client’s nerves, Sayoc’s attorney Sarah Baumgartel asked to hold sentencing on Aug. 5, up from the previously scheduled date of Sept. 12.
When pressed on his claims that his counsel pressured him, Sayoc confirmed that he was satisfied by his attorneys.
“No, your honor, I just felt, just rushed,” he said.
Sayoc admitting sending the bombs from South Florida to actor Robert de Niro; two CNN newsrooms; progressive financiers George Soros and Thomas Steyer; and a host of prominent politicians and government officials, including Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, John Brennan, Eric Holder, Maxine Waters, James Clapper, Cory Booker, and Kamala Harris.