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Authorities arrest Fla. man on mail bomb charges

Authorities arrested a 56-year-old Florida resident in connection with a series of mail bombs sent to prominent Democratic politicians and public figures. Cesar Sayoc faces up to 48 years in prison on multiple federal charges. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and President Trump both hailed the arrest, promising Sayoc would be prosecuted to the “fullest extent of the law.” Amna Nawaz reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    A break in the bomb scare case.

    The FBI says a telltale fingerprint led today to the prime suspect, even as suspect packages kept showing up around the country.

    Amna Nawaz begins our coverage.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Federal authorities confirmed that Cesar Sayoc of Aventura, Florida, has been arrested and charged in connection with a series of mail bombs discovered this week targeting prominent Democrats.

    The arrest of the 56-year-old ends a five-day nationwide manhunt.

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions,

  •  Jeff Sessions:

    Let this be a lesson to anyone, regardless of their political beliefs, that we will bring the full force of law against anyone who attempts to use threats, intimidation, and outright violence to further an agenda. We will find you, we will prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Sayoc was identified using a fingerprint recovered from one of the bombs and a DNA sample from a previous arrest. He now faces up to 58 years in prison for multiple federal charges outlined by U.S. attorney Geoffrey Berman.

  • Geoffrey Berman:

    Charged with five counts that include illegally mailing and interstate transportation of explosives and threatening a former president of the United States.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    His arrest comes after three more bombs were intercepted in mail facilities in New York City, Florida, and California today, the first addressed to former director of national intelligence James Clapper, the second to Democratic Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, and the third to Democratic Senator Kamala Harris of California.

    In all, 13 pipe bombs sent to senior Democratic figures and vocal critics of President Trump have been discovered this week, Democratic leaders former President Obama and Vice President Biden, former Secretary of State Clinton, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, and Senators Booker and Harris, past senior officials, Clapper and former CIA Chief John Brennan, whose packages were both sent to CNN, and former Attorney General Eric Holder, and prominent supporters of liberal causes, investor George Soros and actor Robert De Niro.

    Biden and Waters were sent two packages each. Images from today show law enforcement examining a white van in the parking lot of an auto parts store where Sayoc was taken into custody, the van windows papered with pro-Trump and GOP stickers, images of targets over pictures of President Obama and Hillary Clinton, and one sticker reading "CNN Sucks."

    Authorities say it's too early to discuss Sayoc's motivation, but there is one common thread. All of Sayoc's targets have been critical of President Trump, and all have been the subjects of the president's ire.

  • President Donald Trump:

    These terrorizing acts are despicable and have no place in our country.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    At a White House event today, President Trump hailed the arrest and said the U.S. cannot allow political violence.

  • President Donald Trump:

    The bottom line is that Americans must unify. And we will show the world that we are united together in peace and love and harmony as fellow American citizens.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    But, earlier, he dismissively spoke of the attacks as — quote — "this bomb stuff" and complained that the story is slowing Republican momentum in the midterm elections.

    But the Democratic governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, drew a straight line from the attacks to the president's rhetoric.

  •  New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo:

    It's not a coincidence. There are no coincidences here. So should the president act more responsibly? Yes. Should he act less politically? Yes. Should he be more concerned with safety, as opposed to electoral effect on some convoluted strategy? Yes.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz agreed. Her Florida office was listed as a return address on the packages.

  • Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla.:

    This is a time when no matter what your political persuasion is, we need to turn the volume down. We need to have a civil discourse. We need to be talking with one another.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    As he left the White House late today, the president was asked directly about his rhetoric.

  • President Donald Trump:

    Well, I think I have been toned down, if you want to know the truth. I could really tone it up, because, as you know, the media has been extremely unfair to me and to the Republican Party.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Authorities warn the investigation is active and ongoing, and that more packages could be uncovered.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Amna Nawaz.

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