A man in Florida has been arrested in connection with the pipe bombs sent to various Democrats and cable commentators critical of the Trump Administration.
The FBI confirmed it had one person in custody, Cesar Sayoc, a 56-year-old South Florida man with a long arrest history including alleged bomb threats and with a van plastered with stickers including of President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and ones saying "CNN sucks," a familiar chant at the President's rallies.
CNN had video that it said showed Sayoc at a Trump rally in 2017 holding a "CNN Sucks" sign.
That came as investigators said they had uncovered at postal facilities two new devices--now 14 in all--one addressed to CNN commentator and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and one targeted to Sen. Corey Booker (D-N.J.).
It was the second package addressed to CNN's New York bureau, the first being targeted to John Brennan.
The FBI had been homing in on South Florida, where several of the packages had appeared to come from.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a press conference Friday that political violence is a threat to respect for law. He also said the arrest was a demonstration of the best law enforcement operation in the world.
He said the suspect, Cesar Sayoc--innocent until proven guilty, Sessions pointed out twice--has been charged with five federal crimes facing up to 58 years in prison. He said the charges may expand or change. Sessions called the Trump Administration a law and order administration that would not tolerate such political violence.
FBI director Chris Wray would not speculate on motive. He confirmed there were 13 explosive devices comprising a clock, battery, pipe, wires and potential explosive material. "These are not hoax devices," he said.
Wray praised those who transported the devices from around the country to the FBI lab in Quantico, where he said Sayoc's finger print was lifted from the package directed to Rep. Maxime Waters.Wray said it was not time for the public to drop its guard just yet. "We need to stay vigilant," he said.
NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill praised the cities' terrorist task force and thanked the media for airing photos of the suspicious packages.
After the arrest, the President tweeted his praise for law enforcement
But only a few hours earlier, his twitter focus had been on the ongoing incident's impact on the Republican's midterm message.
Also on Friday (Oct. 26), White House press secretary Sarah Sanders accused CNN of having launched its coverage of the bomb scares by blaming the President. CNN said that was flatly not true.
"It would be reckless and dangerous for President Trump to continue his rhetorical assaults on the press and branding of journalists as enemies of the people after this spate of package bombs aimed at political figures and CNN," said Committee to Protect Journalists Deputy Executive Director Robert Mahoney. "While we cannot say that Trump's speech directly incites violence, it is clear that some people are influenced by it. Journalists across the country feel unsafe because of the constant hostility and belittling of their role in our democracy by the head of state. It needs to stop."
Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.
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