Democrats are using the federal crimes as a new opening to criticize President Trump and his fiery rhetoric, which they blame for the heated political climate that has turned violent.
The president, meanwhile, is pointing his finger at what he calls the “fake news” media, a familiar target that fires up the GOP base, while his supporters are rushing to his defense, saying Trump is the real victim in this situation.
While it’s unclear how the explosive devices will impact the Nov. 6 election, some strategists say the drama has, at the very least, overshadowed other topics that the GOP is eager to talk about, namely the economy and a caravan of Central American migrants slowly headed toward the U.S. border.
Cesar Sayoc Jr., a supporter of President Trump, was arrested Friday in connection with a series of 13 suspicious packages and pipe bombs that were sent to high-profile Democrats including former President Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Vice President Biden, among others.
A number of posts supporting Trump and others critical of the media and Democrats also helped lead investigators to Sayoc.
Investigators were able to connect the more than one dozen packages because some contained the same misspellings, The Post reported. According to the criminal complaint against Sayoc, some of the packages included the same misspellings found on Sayoc's social media postings.
Or so says a 2015 police record in which Sayoc reported that a burglar swiped $45,000 worth of his property from his white Dodge Ram van and a U-Haul trailer while he was working out in a gym in Oakland Park, Fla. An itemized list of the items said Sayoc claimed that 11 pieces of clothing from Trump’s clothing line were taken, along with other apparel and computer equipment.
Police said they reviewed security video and did not see anyone enter the area where the van was parked. One of Sayoc’s Facebook pages shows that earlier that month, he was trying to sell brand new Trump suits and other designer clothing at incredibly deep discounts. His police file also includes arrests dating back to 1991, including busts for theft and possession of steroids.
One of the tweets from Sayoc's account read: "We will see you 4 sure. Hug your loved ones real close every time you leave you home." Ritchie says Twitter informed her that Sayoc's tweets did not violate the company's rules.
So Ritchie, 36, a former press secretary for House Democrats, says she was stunned Friday when she learned that the man she reported for threatening her was suspected of mailing pipe bombs to at least a dozen Democrats and other critics of President Trump. And then, she said, she got "really, really mad."
"I had reported this to Twitter and they did absolutely nothing about it," she told USA TODAY. "What's abusive behavior? Do I have to be found floating in the Everglades in order for this to be taken seriously? Does a bomb have to go off in order for this to be taken seriously?"
The page, under the name Cesar Altieri Randazzo, included numerous public posts from 2016 supporting President Trump and denouncing his political rivals, including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. One shared post came from a page called “Handcuffs for Hillary,” and the page also included numerous reposts from conservative news sources—from Fox News to Breitbart—as well as photos apparently taken by Savoc at Trump rallies.
Facebook didn’t immediately respond to an inquiry from Fast Company about whether it took down the page.
Savoc appears to have shared right-wing content and conspiracy theories on Twitter as well. Some posts propagate conspiracy theories about George Soros, the billionaire funder of liberal causes, suggesting he aided in the Nazi Holocaust (despite being Jewish) and that he was behind the Parkland High School shooting.
The Twitter account also ranted about Debbie Wasserman Schultz, whose return address was used to send the mail bombs, and included threats against other liberal public figures including New York Times columnist and tech writer Sarah Jeong and actor Jim Carrey, The Daily Beast reports.