Former Secretary John Kerry and media figures were threatened online by mail bomb suspect Cesar Altieri Sayoc Jr. before dozens of explosive devices were sent to prominent Democrats, including several of Kerry's former colleagues.
A message from a Twitter account, which has been suspended, that was linked to Sayoc, sent on Oct. 1, said, "Kerry shut criminal mouth before you vanish with all BS crap."
The same post included mentions of former President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, but according to NBC Boston, were nonsensical references. Both Obama and Biden were sent bombs, but they never reached their intended targets and are now being investigated by federal authorities.
Sayoc, of Aventura, Fla., was arrested Friday at an AutoZone store in Plantation, Fla. He has been charged with five federal crimes, 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.
After his arrest, CNN analyst Philip Mudd, a former CIA and FBI official, discussed what it was like to also be threatened by Sayoc on Twitter.
"Let me be coldly analytic here. The last hour is tough. I had to call my family and tell them this was going to break today — that this man threatened me with death on Twitter. I was not aware of that," he said on CNN.
He stressed that he doesn't think President Trump is responsible for "a disturbed human being who threatens an act of murder," but went on to say that charged rhetoric like Trump's — the president regularly derides CNN and other outlets as "fake news" — can trigger such an individual.
"I'm an analyst, though, so instead of getting emotional, let me go cold. When 50,000, 100,000, 200,000 people go to rallies, when millions of people watch you on the screen, if you threaten people, some of those individuals, maybe 1,000th of 1 percent, are going to take you seriously," he said. "The question is whether the president takes risk off the table by stopping threats on social media. It's not whether we hold him responsible for the acts of a deranged person. Stop threatening people because the implications are, people like me have to call their family and say, thank god, he's in prison, because otherwise maybe he shows up at my house."
CNN's office in New York was evacuated earlier this week due to a suspicious package sent to former CIA Director John Brennan, who is a commentator for MSNBC/NBC News, not CNN. Another package found Friday was addressed to former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper at CNN.
Rochelle Ritchie, a political commentator and former congressional press secretary, also claims she reported the pipe-bomb suspect for threatening her on Twitter, weeks before his arrest Friday. She claims that the social media network sent back a “bs response” when she reported the harassment.