Friday, November 18, 2016
An Ohio man who posted online that his “life goal” was to assassinate President-elect Donald Trump just hours after Election Day is now facing up to five years in prison if convicted on federal charges.
Zachary Benson, 24, admitted to making threatening Twitter posts regarding the election beginning at 1:25 a.m. on Nov. 9, according to a criminal complaint. He waived a preliminary hearing on Thursday and was ordered held on $20,000 bond in US District Court in Cleveland, NBC News reported.
“Diplomacy. F—ing fools,” Benson wrote, according to the criminal complaint unsealed Monday. “I hate you all. I want to bomb every one of your voting booths and your general areas.”
About 20 minutes later, Benson posted: “My life goal is to assassinate Trump. Don’t care if I serve infinite sentences. That man deserves to decease [sic] existing.”
A US Secret Service agent who interviewed Benson said the Fairview Park man admitted to making the threats and was apologetic. He wrote the posts after having a “couple of drinks” with his father and a friend on Election Day, according to the criminal complaint.
“Benson was in his room later in the evening watching the election returns when he decided to post the threatening statements,” the complaint reads. “Benson said he never had any intentions behind any of the posts and was just frustrated thinking about how President-elect Trump’s policies could affect his job.”
Benson, whose occupation is not listed in court documents, told the investigator that he knew he “went too far” and immediately took down the posts when he woke up the following morning. His account has since been deleted.
“Benson insisted he never intended any harm to anyone and would not want anything to happen to Trump or the general public despite his threat about bombing ‘general areas,’” the complaint read. “Benson said he isn’t a violent person and is rather anti-social and introverted.”
Calls seeking comment from Benson’s attorney, John Gibbons, were not immediately returned on Friday. His next date in court has not been set, according to NBC News.
A US Secret Service spokesperson declined to comment last week when reached by The Post regarding a flood of calls on Twitter and other social media sites for Trump – and even Vice President-elect Mike Pence – to be assassinated following their election victory, complete with an accompanying hashtag.
“The Secret Service does not provide information regarding protective services,” spokesperson Nicole Mainor said, citing agency policy.
A security source told The Post that the Secret Service would investigate all social media postings deemed to contain credible threats, adding that investigators “prioritize” them during those assessments.
On Tuesday, a California-based cybersecurity firm accepted the resignation of its CEOafter he threatened to assassinate Trump. Officials at San Diego’s PacketSled had said they took the comments by Matt Harrigan seriously and notified federal authorities.
“Once we were made aware of these comments, we immediately reported this information to the Secret Service and will cooperate fully with any inquiries,” company officials said in a statement. “These comments do not reflect the views or opinions of PacketSled, its employees, investors or partners.”