Feds Say Trump Critics Were Target of ‘Domestic Terrorist Attack’

MANHATTAN (CN) – The Florida man who mailed bombs to 15 prominent critics of President Donald Trump may be hit with new charges, prosecutors suggested Tuesday in a letter to a federal judge.

In this undated photo released by the Broward County Sheriff’s office, Cesar Sayoc is seen in a booking photo, in Miami. Federal authorities took Sayoc, 56, of Aventura, Fla., into custody on Oct. 26, 2018, in connection with the mail-bomb scare that earlier widened to 12 suspicious packages. (Broward County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

Addressed to U.S. Magistrate Judge Edwin Torres in Miami, the letter from the the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York says the full scope of Cesar Sayoc’s “domestic terrorist attack” is unknown.

“One of the IEDs was intercepted in the mail yesterday, days after the defendant’s arrest and around the same time as his first court appearance before your honor,” it states, using the shorthand for improvised explosive devices.

“While analysis of the IEDs by the Federal Bureau of Investigation remains ongoing, it is clear that many of the devices contained energetic material with explosive qualities, and several of the devices also contained shards of glass that could only have been intended to maximize harm to the defendant’s victims,” the letter continues.

Branded as the #MAGAbomber on social media for his fanatical devotion to Trump, Sayoc is charged with five federal crimes that could put him away for up to 48 years in prison.

Indicating that more counts may be upcoming, however, the letter from U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman points to an ongoing FBI investigation, plus additional evidence.

Though Sayoc was arrested on Friday after he was linked to bombs mailed to former President Barack Obama, ex-CIA director John Brennan, liberal financier George Soros, and two CNN buildings, prosecutors noted that billionaire Thomas Steyer and CNN’s headquarters in Atlanta also received mail bombs from Sayoc in the folliowing days.

The letter urges Judge Torres to deny Sayoc bail and have the suspect transferred to New York. It also says investigators have found the “addresses for numerous additional targets” on 56-year-old Sayoc’s laptop.

Prosecutors do not disclose the targets’ identities, but comedian Kathy Griffin told CNN that the FBI visited her about a threatening message.

“The president’s tweets/statements have an impact on the personal safety of others,” Griffin wrote on Twitter. “No one thought a photo by a comic was a serious call to violence but when Trump ramps up it can have an impact.”

In this courtroom sketch, Cesar Sayoc, left, appears in federal court on Oct. 29, 2018, in Miami. Sayoc is accused of sending pipe bombs to prominent Democrats around the country. A judge will hold a hearing Friday on whether Sayoc can be released on bail. (Daniel Pontet via AP)

CNN’s office in New York previously had a bomb scare, and Steyer – like Soros – had been the target of conspiracy theories by prominent Republicans criticized for trafficking in innuendo about the liberal donors’ Jewish heritage.

Sayoc’s van, which was covered with pro-Trump paraphernalia, also had pictures of the bomb recipients like Obama and Hillary Clinton in red crosshairs. Prosecutors said that they found his laptop and other electronic devices inside the vehicle, and forensic evidence tied him to misspelled web searches that included “address Debbie wauserman Shultz,” “hilary clinton and family,” and “address kamila harrias.”

With additional fingerprint and other evidence mounting, prosecutors say, only Sayoc’s continued imprisonment can stop his mail-bombing spree.

“Put simply, only the defendant’s arrest and incapacitation resulting from his detention were sufficient to stop his attack,” the letter states.

In 2002, Sayoc pleaded guilty to threatening to blow up the utility company Florida Power & Light in an attack he said “‘would be worse than September 11th.”

The seven-page document is silent on Sayoc’s motive.

Trump has sought to distance himself from “this crazy bomber,” as he called Sayoc, but news reports suggest that the suspect was largely apolitical before Trump’s election two years ago.

Three days after Trump called the news media the “enemy of the people” in February 2017, Sayoc tweeted to Fox News’ Chris Wallace: “The Press is the enemy,” CNN reported.

One of the few Fox personalities to criticize Trump, Wallace spoke out against the president’s use of the phrase, which historians trace back to Stalin’s purges.

Sayoc will appear again in a federal court in Florida on Friday.

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