A Tucson man who faces federal charges for threatening to kill U.S. Congressman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) in an expletive-laden voicemail may have been spurred to make the call by a Fox News segment, newly filed court records show.
Fifty-two-year-old Jan Peter Meister, a Tucson resident and convicted sex offender, was indicted in October for calling Schiff's Washington, D.C., office and leaving a drunken voicemail in which he said, among other things, that he was going to "fucking blow [the congressman's] brains out."
Federal prosecutors also charged Meister with illegal possession of firearms after a search of his residence revealed he had an American Tactical Rifle, a loaded .380 caliber pistol, and a 9 mm handgun, as well as over 800 rounds of ammunition. The charges were first reported by Nick Martin in his newsletter The Informant.
Meister pleaded not guilty to both charges. But new court documents filed late last week show Meister gave a pre-arrest interview with police in which he said he likely Googled the Congressman's office number to make the call after getting upset watching Fox News.
Meister also said in that interview that he "strongly dislikes the Democrats, and feels they are to blame for the country's political issues," according to court records.
One of the officers who arrested Meister also said there was a "strong odor of alcohol emanating" from Meister, according to Justice Department documents.
The charges come as Schiff, the lead House manager in President Donald Trump's impeachment trial, has faced a barrage of harsh criticism and name-calling from Republicans and Trump alike.
In the course of the House's impeachment of Trump and the Senate trial to remove him from office, Trump has called Schiff playground insults like "pencil neck" and accused him of committing "treason" and other crimes.
A spokesman for Schiff did not respond to requests for comment.
Court records from Meister's case include quotes from his October 1 voicemail. He called Schiff a "fucking son of a bitch," threatened to kill him, and said he would "fuck [the congressman's] brains out," according to the documents.
Prosecutors used the severity of the charges against Meister and his criminal record to argue he should not get pretrial release from detention. Meister is a convicted sex offender who has also been charged with a DUI, an assault, and disorderly conduct.
Meister's lawyers argued he never planned to follow through on the threats and couldn't physically do so, since he lives in Tucson and has no way to travel to Washington.
Meister faces a five-year sentence for the threat against Schiff and a 10-year sentence for illegal possession of firearms. He is scheduled to stand trial March 9.
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