The Department of Justice announced this morning that federal agents arrested a man they suspect mailed explosive devices to prominent Democrats. The suspect appears to be a hard-line Trump supporter, news that sent right-wing media into a spin.
In the last week, former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and prominent Democrats—including billionaire philanthropist George Soros and actor Robert De Niro—received packages containing explosive devices, as did CNN, a news outlet that is a frequent target of President Trump’s ire. Some reporters noted the intended recipients of the explosive devices are also favorite targets of Trump’s rhetorical attacks.
Authorities identified the suspect as Cesar Sayoc, a 56-year-old Florida man. A review of his social media accounts revealed him to be an ardent Trump supporter who repeatedly threatened Democrats on Twitter. Sayoc’s van, now in the possession of law enforcement, is plastered with pro-Trump stickers and images of Democrats in crosshairs. CBS News reports:
Police activity centered earlier on an AutoZone in a residential area, where law enforcement officers were seen on television examining a white van in the business’ parking lot, its windows covered with an assortment of political stickers, in the city of Plantation, west of Fort Lauderdale.
The stickers included images of Trump, American flags and what appeared to be logos of the Republican National Committee and CNN, though the writing surrounding those images was unclear.
Officials covered the vehicle with a blue tarp and transported it from the lot, trailed by several police cars, CBS News’ David Begnaud reported.
In online right-wing circles, where it was largely insisted all week that the mailed explosive devices were part of an elaborate hoax orchestrated by Democrats to aide them in the upcoming midterm elections, participants appeared to struggle to reconcile their conspiracy theories in the wake of the arrest and to find a way to absolve Trump and conservative media of any hint of responsibility.
Far-right commentator Paul Ramsey said of Sayoc (who describes himself as Seminole on Twitter, a claim the tribe rejects), “he looks like someone from the caravan.”
Laura Loomer said the van looked “brand new” and used the hashtag “#FakeBombsFakeNewsFakeMemes.”
Stefan Molyneux, a far-right YouTuber, continued to blame Democrats for the bombing attempts, writing “did they really only think that crazy Democrats would listen?” He also speculated that the suspect was “kept out of the criminal system for ‘diversity’ reasons.”
The Gateway Pundit’s Cassandra Fairbanks said she was “kind of bored with this story already” because the bombs mailed to Democrats didn’t detonate.
Ben Garrison, a pro-Trump political cartoonist, said it seemed “odd every sticker looks brand new- almost as if this is >someone’s< idea of what a Trump supporter’s vehicle would look like.”
Infowars personality Millie Weaver argued that the “suspected actions of one crazed individual doesn’t justify the vilification of millions of peaceful Trump supporters.”
Conspiracy theorist Liz Crokin was more convinced that the attempted bombings were a “false flag.” She speculated whether the situation was “a white hat op so they have an excuse to usher in the national guard to prepare for the mass arrests true?”
Jordan Sather, a YouTube conspiracy theorist, alleged a “SET-UP.”
Ben Shapiro, editor-in-chief of The Daily Wire, said that Trump is not responsible for the suspected bomber’s actions. (Earlier we reported on some right-wing blowback Shapiro is taking for having dared to reject “false flag” theories.)
Townhall senior columnist Kurt Schlichter said “normal people” will write off the suspect “as the nutjob he manifestly is.”
The Daily Caller’s Peter Hasson was one of many conservatives who used the news to fault Democrats for the shooting of House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise in 2017.
TheBlaze took a similar approach.
Many figures who speculated that the bomb scares were a hoax, such as Turning Point USA communication director Candace Owens, were conspicuously silent.