Republican Trump supporter Cesar Sayoc pleads guilty to sending pipe bombs to president's critics

Katy Clifton

A man from Florida has pleaded guilty to sending pipe bombs to prominent critics of President Donald Trump in a wave of attacks that spread fear of political violence across the US.

Former stripper Cesar Sayoc, 57, sobbed as he entered the plea in New York.

“I’m extremely sorry,” he said, adding that he never intended for the devices to explode. No one was harmed by the pipe bombs, some of which were sent to Bill and Hillary Clinton and CNN.

Sayoc could get life in prison when he is sentenced on September 12 on 65 counts, including using weapons of mass destruction and sending explosives with intent to kill.

Cesar Sayoc, 57, is shown in this courtroom sketch (REUTERS)

Sayoc was accused of sending rudimentary bombs - none of which detonated - to 16 targets, including former Vice President Joe Biden, Bill and Hilary Clinton, several members of Congress, former President Barack Obama and actor Robert De Niro.

Devices were also mailed to CNN offices in New York and Atlanta.

The bombs began turning up weeks before the hotly contested midterms, contributing to an already tense political environment.

Sayoc was arrested in late October at a Florida auto parts store. He had been living in a van covered with Trump stickers and images of Trump opponents with crosshairs over their faces.

Cesar Sayoc enters his plea before US District Judge Jed Rakoff (REUTERS)

On Thursday, he told the judge that he made objects designed to look like pipe bombs and filled them with explosive powder from fireworks.

The first of the bombs was discovered on October 22 in a mailbox at an estate in New York City's northern suburbs owned by the billionaire George Soros, a liberal political activist.

A device addressed to the Clintons was discovered the following day, followed a day later bombs found at the homes or offices of prominent Democrats.

Others targeted included California Senator Kamala Harris and New Jersey Senator Cory Booker.

Over several days, investigators tracked the packages to a mail centre in Florida. Prosecutors said the evidence against Sayoc included DNA that linked him to 10 of the devices and fingerprints on two of them.