Corrected: Man charged with sending bombs to Trump critics pleads guilty

By Brendan Pierson NEW YORK (Reuters) - (This story has been refilled to fix typographical error in second paragraph) A Florida man pleaded guilty on Thursday to using weapons of mass destruction and other crimes in connection with mailing explosives to prominent Democrats and other critics of U.S. President Donald Trump. Cesar Sayoc, 57, entered his plea before U.S.

Reuters March 22, 2019 05:06:37 IST
Corrected: Man charged with sending bombs to Trump critics pleads guilty

Corrected Man charged with sending bombs to Trump critics pleads guilty

By Brendan Pierson

NEW YORK (Reuters) - (This story has been refilled to fix typographical error in second paragraph)

A Florida man pleaded guilty on Thursday to using weapons of mass destruction and other crimes in connection with mailing explosives to prominent Democrats and other critics of U.S. President Donald Trump.

Cesar Sayoc, 57, entered his plea before U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan federal court, speaking in a halting, shaky voice that often dropped to a whisper. He admitted to sending 16 devices "designed to look like pipe bombs" consisting of a plastic pipe filled with powder from fireworks and fertiliser, a digital clock and wires.

All of the devices were intercepted before reaching their intended targets, and none exploded.

Sayoc listed the intended recipients of his packages, including former President Barack Obama, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, U.S. Senators Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, billionaire investor and Democratic donor George Soros, former Central Intelligence Agency director John Brennan, actor Robert DeNiro and CNN.

After describing what he did, he broke down in sobs, for several seconds unable to speak.

"I know that these actions were wrong and I am extremely sorry," he finally said.

When Rakoff asked Sayoc whether he intended the devices to explode, or to kill or injure people, Sayoc said he did not. However, he admitted that he knew there was a risk they could explode.

In addition to using weapons of mass destruction, the charges include mailing explosives with an intent to kill or injure people or property, and conveying threats through interstate commerce. Sayoc faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced on Sept. 12.

Sayoc, a part-time pizza deliveryman, grocery worker and former stripper, was arrested in October after a four-day manhunt. At the time, he had been living in a white van plastered with pro-Trump stickers, the slogan "CNN SUCKS" and images of Democratic leaders with red cross-hairs over their faces.

All of his intended targets are either prominent Democratic politicians or critics of Trump, a Republican.

A native of New York City's Brooklyn borough and a registered Republican, Sayoc railed against Democrats, Muslims and liberals on Facebook and Twitter. Public records showed that he had been arrested multiple times for domestic violence, theft and other charges, including threatening to bomb an electric company over a billing dispute.

(Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Richard Chang, Susan Thomas and Dan Grebler)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.