A Filipino-American pleaded guilty on Thursday to criminal charges in connection with the mailing of bombs to prominent Democrats and other critics of US President Donald Trump.
"MAGA bomber" Cesar Sayoc, 57, claimed he never intended for the devices - which he packed with explosive powder from fireworks, fertilizer, pool chemicals and broken glass - to actually blow up and hurt anyone. 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.
"In October 2018 I made devices that were created to look like pipe bombs and sent them through the USA mail", he said, speaking nearly in a whisper.
"I know these actions were wrong, and I'm extremely sorry", he said, starting to shake and sob.
Sayoc had been scheduled to go on trial this summer on charges that he mailed rudimentary bombs to 16 targets, including Bill and Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, several members of congress, former President Barack Obama and the actor Robert De Niro.
"Did you intend they would explode?" the United States district judge Jed Rakoff asked.
The package sent to Biden was found at a postal facility in New Castle, Delaware, while the package sent to De Niro's Manhattan office was called in by a building worker who was anxious about a suspicious package that arrived days earlier.
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Authorities arrested the suspect in October at an auto parts store in Plantation, Florida, located about 20 miles from Opa-locka, where investigators discovered several suspicious packages in a us postal facility.
The bombs began turning up weeks before the hotly contested midterms, contributing to an already tense political environment. At times he seemed confused and asked the judge questions.
Sayoc, who became emotional as he wrapped up his remarks, apologized and said, "I know these actions were wrong".
One, addressed to former Central Intelligence Agency director John Brennan, was sent to CNN in NY.
Others targeted included the California senator Kamala Harris and New Jersey senator Cory Booker.
Over several days, investigators tracked the packages to a mailing centre in Florida. Prosecutors said the evidence against Sayoc included DNA that linked him to 10 of the devices and fingerprints on two of them. None of the devices detonated, and no one was injured.