Congress

Suspect who mailed explosive devices to Trump critics pleads guilty, avoids trial

None of the devices exploded before being discovered

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., was among the critics of President Donald Trump who were mailed explosive devices. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Florida man charged with mailing explosive devices to critics of President Donald Trump pleaded guilty Thursday before a federal judge in New York.

Cesar Sayoc Jr. was scheduled to go on trial this summer on charges including interstate transport of explosive devices, illegal mailing of explosives, threatening former presidents and assaulting federal officers. Sayoc was facing up to 58 years in prison.

He mailed explosive devices to 16 targets, including New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker; California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris; and James R. Clapper Jr., the Obama-era director of national intelligence. He also targeted Democratic megadonor George Soros, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden, former Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., former CIA Director John O. Brennan, and actor Robert DeNiro.

Many of the bomb targets have clashed with Trump in the past. The president has derided Waters as a “low IQ person” and retweeted conspiracy theories about Soros. At an awards ceremony in June, DeNiro said “F--- Trump” during a rant.

Sayoc, a registered Republican, has a lengthy criminal history in Florida dating back to 1991, including drug and fraud charges and felony theft. He has been accused of threatening to use a bomb in the past, according to public records.

None of the devices exploded before they were recovered by authorities, but tension built as each new device was found in the weeks leading up to the 2018 midterm elections.

A “latent fingerprint” on an envelope sent to California Rep. Maxine Waters was key to cracking the case, FBI Director Christopher Wray said in October.

Sayoc had been held without bail since his late-October arrest in Florida.

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