CLEVELAND (NBC) — An Ohio man was in court Thursday on a federal charge that he tweeted an explicit threat to assassinate President-elect Donald Trump.
Zachary Benson, 24, of the Cleveland suburb of Fairview Park, could face five years in prison if he’s convicted of the single count of making threats against the president and successors to the presidency.
Benson, who waived a preliminary hearing and faces a federal grand jury, was ordered held on $20,000 unsecured bond Thursday in U.S. District Court in Cleveland.
In an affidavit included in the criminal complaint, the U.S. Secret Service said Benson sent the threatening tweet in the wee hours of the morning on Nov. 9, the day after Election Day.
Benson’s Twitter account has been deleted, but the Secret Service reproduced the tweet in the affidavit, along with others that threatened violence in general over the election results. According to the agency, the specific alleged threat to the president-elect read:
“My life goal is to assassinate Trump. Don’t care if I serve infinite sentences. That man deserves to decease [sic] existing.”
Investigators said Benson realized when he woke up later in the morning that he “went too far” and immediately deleted the tweets. But by then, the Secret Service had already been alerted.
The agency said Benson admitted posting the threats but explained that he “never had any intentions behind any of the posts.” He was “just frustrated thinking about how President-elect Trump’s policies could affect Benson’s job,” according to the affidavit, which didn’t reveal what Benson does for a living.
No follow-up court date was set.