WASHINGTON (JTA) — Federal authorities arrested a South Florida man who appeared to be obsessed with George Soros in connection with a series of mail bombs sent to figures who have been the target of President Donald Trump’s rhetoric.
Cesar Sayoc Jr., 56, was charged on Friday afternoon with five counts, including illegal mailing of explosives and making threats against former presidents. NBC News reported that DNA evidence played a part in the arrest of Sayoc, who has a criminal record.
At least 12 explosive devices have been sent to an array of top Democrats and liberals who have tangled with Trump. None of the devices have exploded.
Among the targets have been former President Barack Obama, 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, former Vice President Joe Biden and CNN.
Two of the targets are Jewish: The first bomb was delivered to Soros, the Holocaust survivor and billionaire philanthropist, and the Florida office of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz has been the return address on all the packages. Wasserman Schultz’s office was evacuated when a misaddressed bomb was returned to her.
A Twitter feed believed to belong to Sayoc was obsessed with Soros, and in at least one instance repeated an anti-Semitic meme, calling the financier a “Judeo-plutocratic Bolshevik Zionist world conspirator.”
A van belonging to Sayoc was plastered with pro-Trump stickers.
In the wake of the bomb attempts, Trump has blamed the media for stoking incivility.
In a tweet just an hour or so before the arrests, Trump appeared to suggest the bombs were a hoax and expressed frustration that they were distracting Americans from his pre-election political message.
“Republicans are doing so well in early voting, and at the polls, and now this ‘Bomb’ stuff happens and the momentum greatly slows — news not talking politics,” Trump said. “Very unfortunate, what is going on. Republicans, go out and vote!”
Trump announced the arrests at a Black Young Leadership Summit scheduled for Friday at the White House. Many of the invitees were Trump partisans. In remarks after the announcement, Trump denounced “globalists” — a term that has at times been identified with anti-Semitic themes of Jewish control — for “cheating” American workers.
A number of those in attendance shouted “Soros!” and “Lock him up!” Trump chuckled.