Another Suspicious Package Was Mailed To CNN As The Pipe Bomb Suspect Was Ordered Held Without Bail
The package — targeted at CNN — was intercepted at a post office in Atlanta hours before 56-year-old Cesar Altieri Sayoc will appear in federal court.
Here's the latest
- Florida resident Cesar Altieri Sayoc, 56, has been charged with five federal crimes in connection with confirmed pipe bombs sent to prominent Democrats and critics of President Trump.
- He faces up to 48 years in prison if convicted. He was ordered held without bail.
- Another suspicious package — intended for CNN — was intercepted in an Atlanta post office on Monday. The FBI said it was similar to the others Sayoc mailed.
- Most if not all of the pipe bombs contained a Florida return address for US Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, an obvious ruse.
- None of the pipe bombs have detonated. One of them yielded a fingerprint that the FBI said belongs to Sayoc.
- Twitter is promoting baseless conspiracy theories about the packages.
Cesar Sayoc was held without bail after his first court hearing
Following his first federal court appearance in Miami on Monday, Sayoc will remain in custody without bail. The magistrate judge in the case set a pretrial detention hearing for Friday, Nov. 2, according to reporters at the hearing.
Sayoc is expected to be arraigned in New York.
A suspicious package addressed to CNN was intercepted in Atlanta on Monday
A suspicious package addressed to CNN's headquarters in Atlanta was intercepted at an Atlanta post office on Monday, CNN President Jeff Zucker said.
The package appeared similar to the string of packages allegedly sent by serial pipe bomb suspect Cesar Sayoc to CNN and prominent Trump critics over the last week, the FBI said.
Sayoc is scheduled to appear in federal court this afternoon.
Zucker said that this latest package would not have reached the CNN Center directly as mail to CNN's domestic bureaus was being screened at off-site facilities since last week.
This is the first suspicious package where the intended recipient was CNN. The other two packages were addressed to former CIA director John Brennan and former national intelligence director James Clapper via CNN's New York office.
Sayoc's social media posts showed photos of himself holding signs that said "CNN Sucks" and describing the network as "fake news and dishonest media" — echoing Trump's own words about CNN.
On Monday, Trump once again called the "fake news media" the "true enemy of the people" and blamed the media for inciting anger in the country.
The suspect’s former lawyer described him as “a 14-year-old in an adult’s body”
Ron Lowy, an attorney who represented Cesar Altieri Sayoc four times, painted an unflattering portrait of his former client’s long-standing issues on Friday.
“[Sayoc] needed people to be impressed with him. He had issues of insecurity. I then began to realize that he had what I considered a lesser IQ and substantial emotional problems. He was like a 14-year-old in an adult's body," Lowy told CNN.
Sayoc was arrested Friday on charges of sending pipe bombs to prominent Democrats and critics of the president.
Sayoc falsified his age on his driver’s license to appear 10 years younger and be more attractive to women, according to Lowy. He also claimed to be Native American despite being born to a Filipino father and a white Italian mother, Lowy added.
Sayoc had also never appeared to have an interest in politics before he “found a father in Donald Trump,” the lawyer said.
Lowy said that the suspect’s family tried and failed multiple times over decades to convince Sayoc to seek mental health treatment.
“Now it’s a little too late," he said.
The FBI says a package sent to billionaire Tom Steyer is similar to pipe bombs sent to prominent Democrats
A suspicious package mailed to billionaire activist Tom Steyer in California was similar to the ones sent to prominent Democrats and Trump critics, the FBI confirmed Friday.
It was initially unclear if the package, which was intercepted at a mail facility in Burlingame, California, was related to the pipe bombs addressed to former president Barack Obama, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, and others.
But the FBI said in a tweet that the package was similar, bringing the total number of improvised explosive devices to 14.
Steyer is a major donor for Democratic candidates and last year launched a campaign to impeach Trump.
—Stephanie K. Baer
The pipe bomb suspect's former boss said he identified as a white supremacist who was "anti-gay, anti-black, anti-Jewish"
Cesar Altieri Sayoc, the man suspected of sending pipe bombs to prominent Democrats and critics of President Trump, self-identified as a white supremacist and a Nazi supporter, according to the general manager of a Florida pizza restaurant he once worked.
"He was anti-gay, anti-black, anti-Jewish — you name it, everybody that really wasn't white and wasn't a white supremacist didn't belong in the world," Debra Gureghian, the general manager of New River Pizza & Fresh Kitchen, told CNN on Friday.
Sayoc, 56, worked as a delivery driver for the Fort Lauderdale pizzeria for several months until he quit in January.
Gureghian said while she never had any problems with him, his political views concerned her. The manager, who is a lesbian, said Sayoc told her "God had made a mistake with me and I should burn in hell."
"He knew that I was a very strong supporter, very strong lesbian, very proud of my sexuality, but more than once, he told me that if he had complete autonomy, I would burn in hell with all the blacks and Jews and Hispanics and everybody else," Gureghian said. "He said, 'Debra, as much as I like you, you're going to be the first one I burn.'"
She added that Sayoc talked about former president Barack Obama and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and how he "detested them." He also expressed disdain for CNN and MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow.
"I love Rachel Maddow and we talked about her, and she was one of the other lesbians that was going to go on the island with me," Gureghian said.
CNN's Kate Bolduan then asked Gureghian how she could carry on conversations with Sayoc and work with him given his hostile opinions.
"I look at it as that he did his job, he did his job impeccable, and I had no right to fire him because his political views were something that were against me," Gureghian said.
—Stephanie K. Baer
The pipe bomb suspect was reported for threatening this journalist on Twitter, but no action was taken
The man suspected of sending pipe bombs to prominent Democrats and critics of President Trump threatened the life of a cable news contributor in a tweet earlier this month, but Twitter told her it did not violate its guidelines.
Cesar Altieri Sayoc, who was identified Friday as the suspect behind the 13 "improvised explosive devices" that were intercepted over the past week, has a history of threatening people repeatedly on social media. But one of them, Rochelle Ritchie, a cable news contributor and former journalist, tweeted that Twitter did not penalize Sayoc after she reported his threatening tweet less than three weeks ago.
The tweet included a picture of Ritchie and a screenshot of a local news report about the discovery of a corpse in the Everglades.
Ritchie responded, "Threatening my life...bad idea."
Ritchie did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed News' request for comment. But on Friday, after Sayoc was identified as the pipe bomb suspect, she shared a screenshot of an email showing that Twitter had determined that Sayoc's tweet was within the boundaries of its terms of service.
Read more here.
When asked if his rhetoric is to blame for bombs, Trump said "there's no blame"
President Trump told reporters Friday that "there's no blame, there's no anything" when asked if his rhetoric might have played a role in a Florida man's decision to allegedly mail a series of bombs to some of the president's most high-profile political critics.
"Well, I think I've been toned down, if you want to know the truth," Trump told reporters before traveling to a political rally in North Carolina. "I could really tone it up because, as you know, the media has been extremely unfair to me and to the Republican party."
It was not the first time Trump has brushed aside questions as to whether his constant attacks on the media and political opponents may have played a role in inspiring the attacks on some of those higher-profile critics, including former president Barack Obama and the Clintons.
Instead, he pointed to the shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise, a Republican, and lamented that the attempted bombings had drawn attention away from Republicans' "tremendous momentum" before the midterm elections.
"People love what we're doing. They love what we're saying. And the Republicans had tremendous momentum, and then of course this happened, where all that you people talked about was that, and rightfully so," Trump said. "But now we have to start the momentum again."
The pipe bomb suspect threatened to blow up a Florida utility company building in 2002, court records show
The man arrested in connection with the series of pipe bomb packages addressed to several prominent Democrats and critics of President Trump allegedly threatened to blow up a Florida utility company building in 2002, court records show.
Cesar Altieri Sayoc, 56, was charged with one felony count of threatening to throw a bomb in August 2002 after he called a representative at the Florida Power and Light Co. and threatened to blow up the utility's building, according to Miami-Dade County court records.
During the phone call, Sayoc allegedly stated, "It would be worse than September 11th," and threatened "that something would happen to the FPL representative if they cut his electricity."
He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to one year of probation as part of a plea bargain.
—Stephanie K. Baer
A suspicious package was sent to Kamala Harris's Sacramento office
A suspicious package resembling those sent to other elected officials was sent to Kamala Harris's office in Sacramento, the senator's spokesperson said in a statement.
According to the statement, a postal employee identified the package addressed to Harris at a mail facility in Sacramento and alerted authorities.
During a press conference Friday afternoon, authorities said the package contained an explosive device, but that it was rendered safe. It is the 13th to be sent to prominent Democrats and Trump critics in the past week.
"At this moment, it is incumbent upon leaders across the political spectrum to take seriously the power they hold," Harris spokesperson Lily Adams said in a statement. "It is the responsibility of our leaders to use their role as public figures to elevate our discourse and bring people together."
—Mary Ann Georgantopoulos
A fingerprint on the package sent to Maxine Waters led the FBI to Sayoc
Federal law enforcement authorities said that a fingerprint lifted from the package sent to US Rep. Maxine Waters led them to Cesar Sayoc.
Sayoc, who was arrested in Florida earlier Friday, was charged with five federal crimes, including interstate transportation of an explosive, illegal mailing of explosives, threats against former presidents and certain other persons, threatening interstate communications, and assaulting current and former federal officers.
He faces up to 48 years in prison.
When asked why Sayoc targeted Democrats, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said, "I don't know."
"He appears to be partisan but that will be determined by the facts as the case goes forward. I'm not able to comment on that," he added.
In his opening remarks, Sessions said, "Political violence is antithetical to our vigorous system of self-government.
"It is a threat to that respect for law and process that allows our people to accept legislation, elections, court rulings with which they do not agree," he said.
FBI Director Christopher Wray said there were a total of 13 pipe bombs sent in the past week. All were six-inch PVC pipes, he said, with a clock, a battery, wires, and potential explosives.
"These are not hoax devices," Wray said, later praising the work done by law enforcement.
"This is phenomenal work with the greatest pressure under an incredibly tight time frame. We see unbelievable work like this on TV and in Hollywood, but to see it up close in reality is something to behold," Wray said.
—Mary Ann Georgantopoulos
A suspicious package addressed to billionaire activist Tom Steyer was intercepted in California
A suspicious packaged mailed to billionaire activist Tom Steyer was intercepted at a mail facility in Burlingame, California, though it remains unclear if the package was similar to the ones sent to prominent Democrats and Trump critics.
"We are seeing a systematic attack on our democracy and our rule of law that extends much further than just one isolated terrorist in Florida," Steyer said in a statement. "Whether it's voter suppression, voter intimidation, attacks on our free press, gerrymandering, or attempted violence — the trust and norms that are the actual basis for our civil society and political system are being eroded."
Steyer has donated heavily to Democrats, including a recent $2 million donation to Andrew Gillum who is running for governor of Florida.
—Mary Ann Georgantopoulos
Authorities have confiscated a van covered in pro-Trump stickers as part of the investigation
Authorities in Florida have confiscated a white van covered in pro-Trump stickers and decals in connection to the arrest made in the suspicious packages sent to prominent Democrats and critics of the president.
The van, which was outside Auto Zone in Plantation, Florida, was covered with a blue tarp and towed away. It is unclear if the van belongs to the individual arrested Friday morning.
The images on the van are Republican-leaning, including ones of the GOP logo, Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and sticker that reads "CNN SUCKS."
Joseph Sassine, a Florida resident who described himself as a supporter of Trump, told BuzzFeed News he had seen the van around and thought, Oh boy, he must be a bigger supporter than I am.
Sassine said he did not see the person driving the van.
Read more here.
—Mary Ann Georgantopoulos
Pipe bomb suspect Cesar Altieri Sayoc's social media is filled with pro-Trump and anti-Democrat memes
Authorities arrested a suspect in Florida on Friday in connection with the series of pipe bomb packages addressed to several prominent Democrats and critics of President Trump this week.
The suspect was identified by multiple media outlets as Cesar Altieri Sayoc, a 56-year-old man living in Florida. Sayoc was arrested at an auto parts store in Plantation, the Miami Herald reported.
At least 12 suspicious packages were sent throughout the week, in an act that officials called terrorism.
Photos on a Facebook account that appeared to belong to Sayoc showed him at pro-Trump events in 2016, wearing a Make America Great Again hat, holding MAGA signs, and posting MAGA memes on his social media. Many of his posts were related to his support for Trump.
Read more here.
—Tasneem Nashrulla, Ellie Hall, and Zoe Tillman
President Trump called the bomb threats a "terrorist act" and "despicable" as his supporters cheered on enthusiastically
President Trump began his speech at the 2018 Young Black Leadership Summit on Friday by first addressing the arrest of a suspect in connection with the string of suspicious packages.
Throughout Trump's remarks, his supporters were heard breaking out into loud applause.
"I am pleased to inform you that law enforcement has apprehended the suspect and taken him into custody," the president announced as the first wave of cheers broke out. "These terrorizing acts are despicable and have no place in our country.
"We will prosecute them, him, her, whoever it may be to the fullest extent of the law."
Trump thanked the FBI, Secret Service, US Attorney's Office, the Department of Justice, the NYPD, and "all law enforcement throughout the country."
"Every day we are showing the world just how truly great we are. So you are really very special people," the president said before the crowd broke out into another round of enthusiastic applause.
Authorities have arrested one suspect in connection to the suspicious packages
A Department of Justice spokesperson confirmed Friday that one individual is in custody in connection with the series of suspicious packages containing pipe bombs. CNN and NBC News reported that the suspect was arrested in Florida.
Authorities have not provided further information.
A 12th suspicious package — reportedly addressed to former national intelligence director James Clapper — was found in Manhattan
Employees at a postal facility in Manhattan discovered a suspicious package that "closely resembled" the others sent so far, including the ones sent to CNN and Robert De Niro's company, the NYPD said Friday.
The package was reportedly addressed to former National Intelligence Director James Clapper and CNN, according to multiple outlets, including CNN. Clapper — who said that the US government was "under assault" after Trump's controversial firing of FBI director James Comey — is a CNN contributor.
The NYPD said that the package contained what appeared to be a pipe bomb consistent with the other devices sent so far, and that the packaging was also consistent with that of the other packages.
The NYPD's bomb squad was on the scene. Authorities removed the package safely from the USPS office.
Clapper told CNN this was "definitely domestic terrorism."
"This is not going to silence the administration's critics," he vowed.
He praised the FBI, ATF, and NYPD for their response to the bombs, while also calling on President Trump to use healing, rather than divisive, rhetoric.
"I'm not suggesting a direct cause and effect relationship between anything he's said or done and the distribution of these explosives. But I do think he bears some responsibility for the coarseness and incivility of the dialogue in this country," Clapper said. "He needs to remember that his words count. His voice is the most important in this country. And for that matter, the world."
—Tasneem Nashrulla and David Mack
Trump mocks bomb target CNN in 3:14 a.m. tweet
President Donald Trump sent a tweet in the middle of the night mocking bomb target CNN for its coverage of the domestic terrorism case.
"Funny how lowly rated CNN, and others, can criticize me at will, even blaming me for the current spate of Bombs and ridiculously comparing this to September 11th and the Oklahoma City bombing, yet when I criticize them they go wild and scream, 'it’s just not Presidential!'" he wrote.
The tweet was sent at 3:14 a.m. ET from the White House, where the president was spending the night.
At 2:48 a.m., he tweeted an apparently unfinished post that he subsequently deleted: "Funny how lowly rated CNN and others can criticize."
That came just minutes after CNN aired a replay of Don Lemon, a favorite Trump target, listing domestic terrorism incidents in the US, including the Oklahoma City bombing.
"We will see what the facts turn out to be in this case, but the history of domestic terror in the United States is very clear," Lemon said. "This president, presented with an opportunity to transcend the toxic political climate and address an anxious nation, said the media should set a civil tone."
An 11th suspicious package addressed to Sen. Cory Booker was intercepted in Florida
The FBI said Friday that an 11th package — similar to the other 10 suspicious packages that were sent to prominent Democrats and critics of Trump — was intercepted in Florida.
The package was addressed to New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, who is a frequent critic of Trump. Trump recently went after Booker for his vocal opposition to confirming Brett Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court Justice.
The FBI said that the package was similar in appearance to the others, but did not say if it contained a potential explosive device.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen confirms that some of the packages were mailed in Florida
In an interview with Fox News, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen officially confirmed that several of the suspicious packages sent to prominent Democratic leaders and Trump critics were mailed in Florida.
"Some of the packages went through the mail. They originated, some of them, from Florida," she said. "I am confident that this person or people will be brought to justice."
Federal and local authorities, bolstered by a bomb squad, searched a mail facility near Miami Thursday night, where they believe some of the packages were sorted and processed.
Miami-Dade police said that they were assisting officials at the Opa-locka USPS center as a "precautionary measure."
Officials are reportedly honing in on Florida as the origin of some of the suspicious packages
Some of the suspicious packages were sent from Florida, prompting authorities to hone in on the state, multiple outlets reported, citing law enforcement sources.
So far, all of the envelopes had a return label addressed to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Florida Democrat, and one of the packages was sent to the building where she has an office.
The New York Times reported that "a number of the explosive devices" were mailed from southern Florida. An official also told the Times they believe the same person sent all 10 devices.
On Thursday evening, the Miami-Dade Police Department confirmed that its bomb squad and K-9 Unit provided assistance to "our federal partners at the USPS Opa-locka mail facility," which is located near the Opa-locka airport, "as part of the ongoing investigation into suspicious packages located in other jurisdictions."
However, William Sweeney, an assistant director with FBI's New York bureau, would not comment on Florida being the source, and said that some devices were delivered by hand.
Authorities are treating the packages as "suspected explosive devices," but won't say where they are coming from
Officials in New York on Thursday refused to divulge details about where the "suspected explosive devices" were sent from, but emphasized that they are treating the packages as "live devices" and cautioned that there could still be more.
The packages in New York contained a white powder that did not "present a biological threat," William Sweeney, the FBI's assistant director in New York, also said. "Any device could be potentially dangerous and we are treating them as such."
Authorities did give more insight into how they discovered the package intended for actor Robert De Niro.
Early Thursday morning, a retired police detective was watching the news and, when he saw an image of the packaging flash across the screen, realized he had screened a similar item addressed to Robert De Niro productions, NYPD Deputy Commissioner John Miller said. The retired officer immediately called the bomb squad, which safely retrieved the package and brought it to a range where the FBI was monitoring the other nine.
All the packages are now being examined at the FBI's laboratory in Quantico, he added.
"Law enforcement professionals do not care about the politics behind these acts," O'Neill said. "What we do care about is keeping the public we serve safe. That's it."
The New York Times reported that investigators are honing in on Florida as the suspected point of origination based on information collected by the United States Postal Service.
Officials at the press conference refused to comment about the packages' trajectories, but said that some were hand-delivered and others had made their way through the postal system. The FBI also would not say whether all the packages looked the same or if the devices inside resembled one another.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio also doubled down on describing the packages as "terrorism" and implored the public to stay vigilant since there still could be other packages.
"Using violence to make a political impact, that's the definition of terrorism," he said.
Two suspicious packages addressed to former vice president Joe Biden were found at a Delaware postal facility
Two suspicious packages addressed to Biden — similar to the series of packages addressed to other prominent Democrats — were found at a United States postal facility in Delaware, the FBI confirmed Thursday.
In a statement, the FBI said, "The New Castle County Police Department, Delaware State Police, members of the US Postal Service Inspectors along with FBI Special Agents are responding this morning to a United States Postal facility in Delaware to conduct law enforcement activity. No further details will be released at this time concerning the nature of the investigation."
Photos obtained by local media outlets showed that the package was addressed to Biden and was similar to the other packages, at least of seven of which contained a potential explosive device. The package was contained in a manila envelope with computer-printed labels, six US flag stamps, and US Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz's return address in Florida.
A spokesperson for Biden directed inquiries to the FBI.
A suspicious package was sent to Robert De Niro's New York office
Police in New York are investigating a suspicious package found at a business owned by Robert De Niro, the actor and outspoken critic of President Donald Trump, on Thursday morning.
A suspicious package was found in the mailroom on the seventh floor of a building in Manhattan that houses De Niro's production company, Tribeca Productions, as well as a restaurant that he partly owns.
"I thank God no one's been hurt, and I thank the brave and resourceful security and law enforcement people for protecting us," De Niro said in a statement. "There's something more powerful than bombs, and that's your vote. People MUST vote!” he said.
Read more here.