Tim Scott, the Senate's sole black Republican, knew the color of his skin made him a target for internet trolls and bigots. Then came the voicemails and the death threat.
Last fall, federal authorities arrested a Georgia man for calling in a profanity-laced death threat to Scott's Washington office.
On Tuesday, 41-year-old Jason Kenneth Bell confirmed he was that caller and pleaded guilty to two counts of anonymous telecommunications harassment, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia said.
Bell told U.S. District Court Judge Marc T. Treadwell he did not give his name when he called Oct. 23 and said he would physically injure the senator from South Carolina.
"Saying that neo-Nazi and white people are the problem. I am going to kill that (expletive)," Bell said in the phone call, according to court documents.
About 15 minutes later, Bell called back and gave his name, court documents said.
According to court filings, Bell had called the senator to express his anger after Scott condemned President Donald Trump for his response to a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., in August.
After Trump's initial response to the violence was to denounce "hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides," Scott said the president's statements "complicated" his "moral authority."
"Are we as a white people supposed to just stand for this injustice or do we do what Dylann Roof did?" Bell said in the call, referring to the self-avowed white supremacist convicted of killing nine black parishioners in a hate-fueled massacre at Charleston's Emanuel AME Church in 2015.
The calls to Scott's office were not the only threats of physical violence Bell said he made by phone.
Bell also pleaded guilty to making anonymous calls to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's western New York office. In those calls in March 2017, Bell stated he would physically harm the New York Democrat, according to a news release.
"Mr. Bell's decision to threaten and harass two United States senators will not be tolerated," said Charles Peeler, U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. "Indeed, there is no place in our country for this conduct."
Bell has been the subject of several FBI threat assessments due to threatening phone calls he has made to various organizations, including the NAACP and local news stations, according to court documents.
Scott's office thanked law enforcement for the successful prosecution.
"Senator Scott is appreciative for law enforcement's swift and thorough investigation. He also wants to recognize the Capitol Police for their initial work on this case and for everything they do to keep us safe on a day-to-day basis, both in Washington as well as at home," according to a statement by Michele Exner, a spokeswoman for Scott's office.
Bell faces a maximum sentence of two years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both, on each count. His sentencing is scheduled for this summer.