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Cesar Sayoc Arrested for Suspicious Bomb Packages; DOJ to Soon Give News Conference on Arrest of Mail Bomb Suspect; Police Scanner Audio of Sayoc Arrest; DOJ New Conference on Arrest of Mail Bomb Suspect Cesar Sayoc. Aired 2:30-3p ET
Aired October 26, 2018 - 14:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:30:00] PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Of course, there are many unanswered questions, including were there more people involved potentially or could anyone else have encouraged him to be a part of this. So that is what authorities are really focused on. And even though they have made this arrest of Cesar Sayoc, they want to make sure he was acting alone. That's going to be one of the main questions to today.
And then, of course, how the suspect's political aggressive, how his extremist views may have played a role in this. As we reported, Brooke, authorities do believe this was an act of domestic terrorism. So that is something we're going to be asking.
And also whether authorities have invoked the public safety exception. This is used when they think there's an ongoing threat after the suspect is arrested. So instead of immediately reading the suspect Miranda rights, they'll invoke the public safety exception. That's something else that will likely come up during today's press conference with top officials, including FBI Director Christopher Wray, the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, officials from New York, including Commissioner O'Neill, and the U.S. attorney in New York, who will be leading the prosecution here.
I wouldn't be surprised if there's limited information because authorities, as you probably saw during the press conference yesterday, Brooke, want to limit the amount of information, the evidence they have in the case so that they don't jeopardize it during the course of prosecution, so it doesn't become inadmissible in the courtroom. That said, we do hope to learn more about what led to the arrest and whether they believe anyone else may have been involved in this -- Brooke?
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Sure.
Pamela Brown, thank you.
We're standing by for that news conference to take place any moment now.
Phil Mudd, hasn't the investigation just begun, now that they have him, we have this individual, hopefully, he was acting alone. Where are the tentacles going now? PHIL MUDD, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The hard part is over.
The next piece is going to go really fast. You have to ask the question. I think the answer is no. But think is not the same as a fact. You have to ask the question, A, were there co-conspirators? Did people participate in this? You're going to question him, you'll look at his social media, his phone, his e-mail. I want to see every fingerprint in the house. Are there fingerprints other than his own in the residence? And then the slightly the tougher questions after interviewing people, are there people who were aware of this that should have alerted authorities. I will know pretty quickly whether we can confirm whether this was somebody who was disturbed and acted along. I think that will roll real fast.
BALDWIN: Can -- on the disturbed and acting alone piece, Jennifer, to you, on the public safety exception, you mentioned it a second ago, explain that to all of us. The public safety exception would not have been Mirandized immediately.
JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So if there's a public safety emergency, like you have someone who has been sending bombs to people and you need to know whether there are other bombs because that's a risk to the public, you're allowed to question people without giving them their Miranda warnings and you're allowed to use those statements later. So they can sit down and ask him is there anyone else involved in this, are there any more packages. They can do all this without Miranda, mirandizing him, and once the subject is over, they will give him his Miranda warnings in order to use the evidence later.
BALDWIN: Jim Clemente, as they are going to his home, going through social media, talking to his family, talking to his friends, going through that van, how will they determine that he was, indeed, acting alone?
JIM CLEMENTE, RETIRED FBI PROFILER: It's a rule-out process. They have to see what his connections are, who he has been talking to. They'll rebuild his life basically. One aspect of this investigation is looking at victimology, who he targeted, also who is on his side of the equation, all his associates, people he worked with. They'll go back and look at his criminal history. Why did he threaten that person? What happened after that? He's got a long, rich history now. They're going to mine that. And all that will go to proof that he was actually the guy who did this.
BALDWIN: Josh Campbell, we were talking a second ago, we talked about his van. We're waiting to hear from DOJ as far as political leanings and how that perhaps was a factor in who he allegedly targeted. You were talking about this collision of law enforcement and politics. What do you mean?
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes. There have been so many instances over the past year and a half it seems, this very toxic political climate. One need only look to the Mueller investigation, Russia, where you have law enforcement dragged into these political discussions. I think we're about to see the same thing on a massive level. If it turns out this person was inspired by this hateful rhetoric, from the president, from others, it's going to get very ugly and you're going to see law enforcement dragged into that. Folks like me, you know, former investigators will look at this and say the president, elected officials, they have a responsibility to help ensure the safety of the public. And if their actions and their words are inspiring people, as troubled as they may be, this sounds like a very troubled person with possible mental health issues, that still doesn't remove some responsibility from our elected officials. I think that's what we're going to see. I can already hear in the back of my head, in my mind the president distancing himself from this person if this turns out to be the case. We don't know yet. Given the president the benefit of the doubt --
BALDWIN: -- a Trump supporter or --
CAMPBELL: I can already hear him say this is a whacko, someone outside the mainstream, which may be the case, but that doesn't mean our elected officials, by nature of their position, don't bear some responsibility for the consequence of this.
[14:35:35] SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME & JUSTICE REPORTER: This is something that law enforcement, honestly, in the last two years or so, has been concerned about, the FBI, this is the whole domestic terrorism issue.
PROKUPECZ: And even local law enforcement, right? There's an increase in protests in New York, all over the country. So this is something that law enforcement has been looking at because --
PROKUPECZ: It is. And they're concerned that people are going to act on some of this and create violence or do violent things, you know, send bombs and build explosives. So this is something they've been on the lookout for and something they have been concerned about. They understand it's real, it's happening, and they need to be ahead of it to try and deter it as much as they can.
BALDWIN: How will the attorney general address that, if, in fact, he does?
BALDWIN: This was President Trump earlier today at the White House. This was Teleprompter Trump, this was toned-down Trump. What Trump he did not say -- he did say, unify, this is despicable. What we did not hear was him say, America, tone it down. So we'll way to see if the A.G. does that.
Stand by, everyone.
We're going to get another quick break in. We're waiting for this news conference from the Department of Justice any time now on this mega, mega arrest earlier today in Plantation, Florida. Also, on the other side of the break, we have new audio of the police
scanner as the arrest went down. We'll play it for you, next.
[14:41:10] BALDWIN: All right, as we were covering this breaking news, there are live pictures in Washington, D.C. Waiting for this Department of Justice news conference to begin.
We have the audio from the police scanner earlier this morning when this 56-year-old man, Cesar Sayoc, who was arrested at this Auto Zone in very public fashion. He didn't work there, was arrested there. That's where they also grabbed his van or presumably a van he was driving and took into this FBI facility to take a much closer look at it.
We have the police scanner of when this actually rest went down. Let's all listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: Yes, we just took him into custody. We're concerned reference signal 46. We want the road shut down and then we'll start evacuating.
UNIDENTIFIED LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: Sir, can we start clearing these businesses north of the Auto Zone?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Just a little bit of color from this morning when this all went down.
PROKUPECZ: Yes. I think the time here is important. Our producer, Brian Rocus (ph), went back and listened to the tape. That's at 10:37 a.m. So officially that would probably be the arrest time. That's around 10:40 this morning is when he was arrested. We're on the air within minutes after his arrest. We know at least we have the time for when he was arrested.
CAMPBELL: And there's something telling in that audio. Three quick things. First, they knew who they were following. They said we're going to start evacuating after he's in custody. They know they're dealing with a potential bomb maker or someone who, when arrested, may cause someone damage. And the last thing is they're calling them marked units. So that's telling me these are surveillance agents or officers tracking this person, because now they figure, we're going to take him, and now you're going to bring in the marked units to make a larger footprint there, to clear the public, set up a perimeter, something you wouldn't want on site if you were trying to covertly surveil someone.
PROKUPECZ: He was under surveillance yesterday by local FBI.
PROKUPECZ: Probably at least that we know since yesterday.
BALDWIN: He was.
PROKUPECZ: He was under surveillance by the FBI.
BALDWIN: They found their moment.
PROKUPECZ: They found their moment. And they used, also, the police officers from the local jurisdiction.
We know he's in FBI custody in Florida.
Drew Griffin is on the phone outside of that facility.
Drew, do you know anything as far as whether he's being cooperative with law enforcement or whether he's even talking?
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): I really do not. This is a massive facility, huge, surrounded by fencing. Other than seeing vehicles, which seem to be the vehicle they may have transported go in, along with the van, really no activity on the outside. So we're pretty much in the dark as far as what is happening inside there right now as far as any movement or questioning of this suspect.
BALDWIN: Got it.
Drew, stand by.
Jennifer to you, we've got the picture up of the DOJ. What kind of information are we about to hear from officials?
RODGERS: We're going to hear the probable cause for the arrest. When you arrest someone without having first gone to the grand jury and put in your evidence and get an indictment, you have to put what is called a complaint after the arrest to explain to the judge why you're allowed to charge this person, to justify the arrest. The good thing is we will now have more information than we might even from an indictment because they do have to spell out the probable cause. So when he's in court and the complaint is unsealed, we'll know why they're saying this is the guy who mailed these bombs and here's why, we have probable cause to believe that he has committed whatever federal offense they charge him with. And there are any number of things they could charge him with. There's a whole slew of things. I think they'll charge probably the simplest, the mailing of an incendiary device. That will be good enough. We'll know a lot more then because they'll spell it all out in this document. They're madly typing right now and, hopefully, we'll see it soon.
[14:44:58] BALDWIN: Sure. Sure.
Drew, back to you, in Florida, and this van plastered in political stickers. What more do you know about the van and his political leanings? GRIFFIN: Well, the political leanings, obviously, are plastered all
over that van. We know that for the first time he registered to vote as a Republican in the state of Florida in 2016. So we don't know if he's a relative newcomer to politics. He seems to be a relative newcomer to voting.
On the van itself, in what could be a developing story line here, there may be a good -- I've been running around south Florida trying to find out where this person actually lived. There may be a good reason why we can't seem to locate that because the van may have been playing a major role in his life. I think --
BALDWIN: How do you mean?
GRIFFIN: I mean, he may have been spending a lot of time in that van. I can't truly confirm that he lived in that van at this time, but there are indications that this person spent a lot of time in that van, at least that's the indications that we're getting and what we're trying to ask the police.
He does have a very extensive criminal record, which I think you guys have been alluding to. One was this huge bomb threat he made when somebody, a utility company, threatened to turn off his lights. That was back in 2002. He threatened to blow up the whole utility company. So he has a lot of financial troubles in his past. He has a lot of arrests, a lot of drug arrests, burglary theft, larceny arrests. And we may be getting -- you know, we're getting indications that that van was a big, big part of his life.
BALDWIN: I hear you very careful in not reporting what we obviously don't know for sure, if he stayed in it, slept in it, built potentially these bombs in it, but it could be a treasure trove of evidence for law enforcement.
Drew, thank you so much, outside that FBI facility where Cesar Sayoc is being here.
Again, we are waiting for this Department of Justice news conference to begin.
Quick break. We'll be right back.
BALDWIN: All right, we are waiting for this Department of Justice news conference to begin. There's the attorney general, Jeff Sessions. Folks are getting lined up, ready to roll. Waiting for more information. Let's listen.
[14:49:33] JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Thank you all for being here.
Over the past week, more than a dozen suspicious packages have been sent through the United States Postal Service to a media outlet, a Hollywood actor, and at least seven high-ranking, current and former political leaders in the Democratic Party. This is utterly unacceptable. Political violence or the threat of violence is antithetical to our vigorous system of self-government. It is a threat to that respect for law and process that allows our people to accept legislation, elections, court rulings with which they do not agree. This is the central feature of our system of government. You advocate for your beliefs enthusiastically, but we peaceably and lawfully comply with the results.
Please know that, from the beginning, this investigative team has made this matter a top priority, focusing their great talent and expertise on neutralizing this threat. They have moved swiftly and professionally, using extraordinary technical expertise to apprehend the one alleged responsible. This is a demonstration of the skill, capability and determination of our American law enforcement, the best in the world.
So I am pleased to participate in this announcement that a suspect is in the custody of the FBI. I want to remind everyone that the defendant in this case, as in every case, is innocent until proven guilty. He has been charged today with five federal crimes, including interstate transportation of an explosive, illegal mailing of explosives, threats against former presidents and certain other persons, threatening interstate communications, and assaulting current and former federal officers. For these charges, the defendant faces up to 58 years in prison. These charges may change or expand as the investigation proceeds.
This is a law-and-order administration. We will not tolerate such lawlessness, especially not political violence.
And so I want to thank the FBI Director Wray and his team, all of our law enforcement partners, who are here, ATF, Secret Service, postal inspectors, capitol police and New York City Police Department and the United States Attorney Berman of the southern district of New York and U.S. attorney for the southern district of Alabama, Ariana Orshan. Federal, state and local law enforcement officers from across this country responded immediately to the cause and contributed to this effort. We are proud of each one of them.
I want to reiterate the defendant in this case is innocent until proven guilty. But let this be a lesson to anyone, regardless of their political believes, 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.
Now Director Wray, who has done an incredible job leading this effort over the last few days, he will give us the details of today's important arrest.
CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: As the attorney general has confirmed, we have arrested Cesar Sayoc in connection with this investigation. As our investigation is still ongoing, I may not be able to answer questions about his background or about his motive. What I can say is that this was a nationwide investigation of enormous
scope and of the greatest importance. Our investigation ranged from New York to Delaware, to Maryland, to the District of Columbia, to Florida, to California. And as it always does, the FBI responded with all the resources we've got, including you are Joint Terrorism Task Forces, our Counterterrorism Division, and world-renowned experts at the FBI lab in Quantico.
But, and I really can't underscore this enough, we did not act alone, as you can see from the agencies and departments represented up here today. A threat of this scope and of this magnitude requires all of us working shoulder to shoulder. And today's arrest is a testament to the strength of our partnerships and what we can do when we all work together.
I want to acknowledge the many partners who helped in recovering and transporting these IEDs to our labs in Quantico. This is dangerous and highly skilled, specialized work that requires great care. And we're incredibly grateful to all those who helped us in our effort in getting this many to our labs around the country.
[14:55:05] We can confirm that 13 IEDs were sent to individuals across the country. Each device consisted of roughly six inches of PVC pipe, a small clock, a battery, some wiring, and what is known as energetic material, which is essentially potential explosives and material that give off heat and energy through a reaction to heat, shock or friction. Though we're still analyzing the devices in our laboratory, these are not hoax devices.
I want to focus for a moment on the amazing work of our folks at the FBI lab. Based on their initial analysis, they uncovered a latent fingerprint from one of the envelopes containing an IED that had been sent to Congresswoman Maxine Waters. We have confirmed this fingerprint is that of Cesar Sayoc. There's also a possible DNA connection between samples collected from pieces of two different IEDs mailed in separate envelopes and a sample previously collected from Sayoc in connection with an earlier arrest down in Florida.
This is phenomenal work, with the greatest pressure, under an incredibly tight time frame. We see unbelievable work like this on TV and in Hollywood, but to see it up close in reality is something to behold. And we are so proud for our team at the lab for their work in keeping people safe and helping to find the individual responsible.
Late last night, we returned to our partners in the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for confirmation of this DNA connection and we want to thank them, in particular, for their very quick work.
I also want to thank the men and women of the FBI's Counterterrorism Division, who remain on high alert every single day to try to keep the American people safe from harm and who move quickly and efficiently into action every single time.
Today's arrest doesn't mean we're all out of the woods. There may be other packages in transit now and other packages on the way. So we need the help of everyone out there, every citizen, everyone in law enforcement, everyone we've got to help with this investigation in the days to come. If you've got any information, please call us. Our tip line at 1-800-callFBI or e-mail line tips.FBI.gov.
No piece of information is too small. Every tip could be the one that leads to something very important. And of course, if you see any suspicious, suspicious activity, please call your local authorities. We need all hands on deck. We need to stay vigilant.
Finally, I want to thank all our partners, too many to name from across the country, because we cannot do this work alone. Everyone up here understands that, and we take that to heart every single day, as we do the hard work together of protecting 325 million Americans.
Now I'd like to turn the podium over to Commissioner O'Neill from the NYPD.
JAMES O'NEILL, COMMISSIONER, NEW YORK POLICE DEPARTMENT: Thanks, Chris.
Good afternoon, everyone.
On behalf of the men and women of the NYPD, quite frankly, all the people of New York City, I want to thank all of our local, state and federal law enforcement partners in this effort, including the attorney general's office and the U.S. attorney's office for the southern district of New York.
Our NYPD detectives, along with FBI and ATF agents, postal inspectors, New York State Police and many others, they are one team on our Joint Terrorist Task Force. The JTTF in New York was its first of its kind in the nation. It's been in business since 1980. Today, there are 300 investigators from 56 agencies, and 113 of them are New York City cops. When it comes to terrorism in New York City, NYPD doesn't do anything without the FBI, and the FBI doesn't do anything without the NYPD. That's a partnership that was forged in fire. In my 36 years in policing, our relationship has never been stronger.
This case told that story again. New York City cops were side by side with FBI agents and many other agencies in Florida this morning. Together, they brought justice, as they always do. The wide experience of our agencies, coupled with the individual expertise of the members of the NYPD Bomb Squad, our highly trained Emergency Services Unit, our Intel Bureau, our Counterterrorism Bureaus, our patrol cops, who were the first to respond to CNN, all helped lead to today's arrest. I couldn't be more proud of the work each of them did in this case and the work they do every day.