Cesar Sayoc, the ardent supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump accused of mailing at least 13 packages containing explosive devices to critics of the president, is set for his first court appearance on Monday.
The 56-year-old is due to go before a federal judge in Miami, Florida, not far from where federal agents arrested him on Friday near the van where authorities say Sayoc was living. Several windows of the vehicle were covered with stickers saying support Trump or with cross-hairs over the faces of Trump opponents. Sayoc is accused of mailing the devices.
After Monday’s hearing, the case is expected to move to a federal court in New York.
Sayoc is facing five federal charges in connection with the week-long mail bomb plot. Packages with the explosives, none of which detonated, were mailed to several leading Democratic opponents of Trump, including former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden and Trump’s challenger in the 2016 election, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, along with top national security officials who served in Obama’s administration.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that Sayoc, who at various times has worked as a night club disc jockey, bouncer and pizza delivery driver, could face up to 48 years in prison if he is convicted.
FBI Director Christopher Wray said 13 improvised explosive devices were sent in the packages, and each mailing included 6 inches of PVC pipe, a small clock and potentially explosive material.
“These are not hoax devices,” Wray said of the bombs. Authorities told the Associated Press the devices were not rigged to explode when the packages were opened, but they said they were not sure if that is because the devices were poorly made or were not intended to harm.
The FBI chief said a fingerprint found on one of the packages led investigators to Sayoc. He said possible DNA evidence was found on another package.
Sayoc was previously known to law enforcement officials and has been arrested nearly a dozen times in Florida, including a 2002 arrest for making a bomb threat. His first arrest in the state was at age 29 for larceny. Other charges against him have included grand theft, fraud and illegal possession of steroids.
Officers hauled away Sayoc’s white van — its windows plastered with the pro-Trump stickers, American flags, and images of the Democratic figures. Another sticker targeted the television news network Trump calls “Fake News,” saying, “CNN Sucks.”
His arrest came just hours after the Federal Bureau of Investigation intercepted two more suspicious packages, one addressed to Democratic Sen. Cory Booker, the other to former National Intelligence Director James Clapper. And even as Sayoc was being detained, officials with Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris of California said investigators were looking at a package sent to her office.
Clapper said on CNN Friday morning he was not surprised he was targeted and said the incidents were “serious.”
Trump vowed that anyone responsible for mailing the suspicious packages will be prosecuted to the “fullest extent of the law.”
“We must never allow political violence to take root in America,” Trump told the Young Black Leadership Summit at the White House.
Later Friday, Trump told a political rally in Charlotte, North Carolina, that the media is to blame for polarizing the country.
“We have seen an effort by the media in recent hours to use the sinister actions of one individual to score political points against me and the Republican Party.” He said the media’s “constant unfair coverage, deep hostility and negative attacks” only serve to “drive people apart.”
In a tweet earlier Friday, Trump referred to the investigation as “this ‘bomb’ stuff,” which he blamed for taking focus away from the upcoming midterm elections on Nov. 6.