Many wingnuts in the far-right media—from Rush Limbaugh to Ann Coulter to Townhall’s John Cardillo—were quick to claim that the series of pipe bombs mailed to prominent Democrats this week was a “false flag” operation designed to discredit President Donald Trump and the Republican Party. But with investigators having found a suspect, veteran television journalist Geraldo Rivera is retracting his “false flag” claims.
Investigators have found a suspect in the pipe bombs: Cesar Altieri Sayoc, a 56-year-old Florida resident whose angry, sometimes incoherent posts on social media praised Trump and bitterly attacked former President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State/2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Rep. Maxine Waters and former Attorney General Eric Holder—all of whom were targets.
During an October 25 appearance on Fox Business Channel, Rivera told host Trish Regan that he believed the pipe bombs were an “elaborate hoax.”
“At the risk of sounding like a far-right-wing lunatic,” Rivera told Regan, “I have to say that I believe that this whole thing was an elaborate hoax. I believe that those bombs were never intended to explode. I think those bombs were intended to further divide the American people.”
But the following day on Twitter—after Sayoc’s arrest—Rivera had a very different view.
At 1:17 PM eastern time, Rivera made it clear that he had changed his mind when he posted, “Never mind; outsmarted myself in conjuring false flag operation designed to hurt @realDonaldTrump & #GOP. Actual alleged perp 56-year old #CesarSayoc is apparently stereotype most media assumed: a middle-aged, rabid, extreme right winger w a troubled past & long criminal record."
Rivera elaborated at 1:31 p.m., tweeting, “#CesarSayoc has long criminal history of extremist behavior-like his 2002 bomb threats-which predate @realDonaldTrump’s political career-He’s a self-started amateur extremist- He didn’t need Trump for inspiration. #Congratulations to #FBI & all those whose lives were disrupted.”
Sayoc is sometimes listed as “Cesar Altieri Randazzo” in his social media posts.
Other major Democrats who pipe bombs were sent to this week include Vice President Joe Biden and actor/director Robert De Niro, both of whom have been highly critical of Trump. And a suspicion package that was address to former CIA Director John O. Brennan forced the evacuation of CNN’s New York City offices.