Lawmakers Threatened Ahead of Trial 01/25 06:18
Federal law enforcement officials are examining a number of threats aimed at
members of Congress as the second trial of former President Donald Trump nears,
including ominous chatter about killing legislators or attacking them outside
of the U.S. Capitol, a U.S. official told The Associated Press.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal law enforcement officials are examining a number
of threats aimed at members of Congress as the second trial of former President
Donald Trump nears, including ominous chatter about killing legislators or
attacking them outside of the U.S. Capitol, a U.S. official told The Associated
The threats, and concerns that armed protesters could return to sack the
Capitol anew, have prompted the U.S. Capitol Police and other federal law
enforcement to insist thousands of National Guard troops remain in Washington
as the Senate moves forward with plans for Trump's trial, the official said
The shocking insurrection at the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob prompted federal
officials to rethink security in and around its landmarks, resulting in an
unprecedented lockdown for Biden's inauguration. Though the event went off
without any problems and armed protests around the country did not materialize,
the threats to lawmakers ahead of Trump's trial exemplified the continued
potential for danger.
Similar to those intercepted by investigators ahead of Biden's inauguration,
the threats that law enforcement agents are tracking vary in specificity and
credibility, said the official, who had been briefed on the matter. Mainly
posted online and in chat groups, the messages have included plots to attack
members of Congress during travel to and from the Capitol complex during the
trial, according to the official.
The official was not authorized to not discuss an ongoing investigation
publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.
Law enforcement officials are already starting to plan for the possibility
of armed protesters returning to the nation's capital when Trump's Senate trial
on a charge of inciting a violent insurrection begins the week of Feb. 8. It
would be the first impeachment trial of a former U.S. president.
Thousands of Trump's supporters descended on the Capitol on Jan. 6 as
Congress met to certify Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential race. More
than 800 are believed to have made their way into the Capitol during the
violent siege, pushing past overwhelmed police officers. The Capitol police
said they planned for a free speech protest, not a riot, and were caught off
guard despite intelligence suggesting the rally would descend into a riot. Five
people died in the melee, including a Capitol police officer who was struck in
the head with a fire extinguisher.
Though much of the security apparatus around Washington set up after the
riot and ahead of Biden's inauguration --- it included scores of military
checkpoints and hundreds of additional law enforcement personnel --- is no
longer in place, about 7,000 members of the National Guard will remain to
assist federal law enforcement, officials said.
The Guard Bureau said that the number of Guard members in D.C. is less than
20,000 as of Sunday. All but about 7,000 of those will go home in the coming
days. The Guard Bureau said that the number of troops in D.C. would then
continue to decline in the coming weeks to about 5,000. They are expected to
stay in D.C. until mid-March.
At least five people facing federal charges have suggested they believed
they were taking orders from Trump when they marched on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6
to challenge the certification of Biden's election victory. But now those
comments, captured in interviews with reporters and federal agents, are likely
to take center stage as Democrats lay out their case.
More than 130 people have been charged by federal prosecutors for their
roles in the riot. In recent weeks, others have been arrested after posting
threats against members of Congress.
They include a Proud Boys supporter who authorities said threatened to
deploy "three cars full of armed patriots" to Washington, threatened harm
against Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., and who is accused of stockpiling
military-style combat knives and more than 1,000 rifle rounds in his New York
home. A Texas man was arrested this week for taking part in the riot at the
Capitol and for posting violent threats, including a call to assassinate Rep.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.