U.S. President Donald Trump vowed Friday that those responsible for mailing suspicious packages to former president Barack Obama, other high-profile Democrats and critics of President Trump will be prosecuted to the “fullest extent of the law.”
“These terrorizing acts are despicable and have no place in our country,” Trump told an enthusiastic group attending the Young Black Leadership Summit at the White House. “We must never allow political violence to take root in America.”
Federal authorities have detained a person in connection with a series of 12 mailed suspicious packages, a Justice Department official said Friday. Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said authorities are planning to announce more information at a news conference later Friday (at 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time).
The detainee has been identified as Cesar Alteri Sayoc Jr., a 56-year-old registered Republican in Florida, according to numerous media outlets citing law enforcement authorities.
Court records show Sayoc has a lengthy criminal history, including a conviction on a 2002 threat to “throw, place, project or discharge any destructive device.” Florida attorney Ronald Lowy, who represented Sayoc, said his client was sentenced in August 2002 for threatening to throw a bomb during a conversation with a state utility representative.
Federal authorities apprehended Sayoc just hours after the Federal Bureau of Investigation intercepted two more suspicious packages, one addressed to Democratic Senator Cory Booker, the other to former National Intelligence Director James Clapper.
The FBI said both packages, which raised the total to 12, were similar to the crude pipe bombs that were addressed in recent days to former president Barack Obama, other high-profile Democrats and critics of U.S. President Donald Trump.
Other packages were addressed to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the former U.S. attorney general, two Democratic Party members of Congress and former Central Intelligence Director John Brennan.
The 11th package addressed to Booker was discovered at a mail sorting facility in Florida, the FBI said.
The agency said a 12th package targeting Clapper was addressed to him at cable network CNN and was found at a New York City post office.
Clapper said on CNN Friday morning he was not surprised he was targeted and said the incidents were “serious.”
Shortly before the person was detained Friday Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Friday law enforcers are “working tirelessly” to resolve the issue and vowed to “find the person or persons responsible and bring them to justice.”
Federal investigators searched a massive mail sorting facility in Florida late Thursday, after determining that at least one of the pipe bombs was processed there. They are specifically looking at the southern part of the state of Florida as a source of some of the packages, according to media reports.
U.S. President Donald Trump is largely blaming the media for the angry political atmosphere in America that critics contend has led to what is being regarded as a wide-scale assassination attempt.
On Friday, he directed his ire at CNN.
Trump’s Thursday tweet came as suspected explosive devices addressed to actor Robert De Niro and former Vice President Joe Biden were found Thursday.
Pressed by reporters Thursday on whether there could be a link between Trump’s insults of political opponents and the bombs, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders replied, “the president is certainly not responsible for sending suspicious packages to someone no more than [Democratic Party Senator] Bernie Sanders was responsible for a supporter of his shooting up a baseball field practice last year.”
Throughout the day on Wednesday, leaders from both the major parties called for a return to civility in the political arena.
The U.S. Secret Service said the package addressed to Clinton was discovered late Tuesday, intercepted at a mail screening facility near her home in a New York suburb where she lives with her husband, former President Bill Clinton.
A separate package addressed to Obama, according to the Secret Service, was intercepted at a screening facility at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, a 365-hectare military facility in Washington.
Two suspect packages were sent to California Congresswoman Maxine Waters, one intended for her office in the nation’s capital and the other for her home district office. The first was intercepted at a congressional mail sorting center in the state of Maryland, and the second discovered by postal inspectors at the Los Angeles Central Mail Sorting Facility.
The first in the series of explosive devices was found Monday in a mailbox outside the New York home of billionaire philanthropist George Soros, a major donor to Democratic candidates.