Federal enforcement is on high alert Thursday within the wake of an intelligence bulletin issued earlier in the week a few group of violent militia extremists having discussed plans to require control of the US Capitol and take away Democratic lawmakers on or around March 4 -- a date when some conspiracy theorists believe former President Donald Trump are going to be returning to the presidency.
US officials on Wednesday alerted lawmakers to a possible threat, that security has been enhanced as a precaution. The House changed its schedule in light of warnings from US Capitol Police, moving a vote planned for Thursday to Wednesday night to avoid being in session on March 4. The Senate remains expected to be in session debating the Covid-19 relief bill.
The joint warning from the FBI and therefore the Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday underscores a broader effort by federal agencies to avoid repeating the mistakes made before Epiphany , when officers were overtaken by a violent pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol. Those intelligence sharing and planning failures are laid bare over the last two months in several hearings and are a focus of criticism from lawmakers investigating the violent attack that left several people dead.
The violent extremists also discussed plans to influence thousands to visit Washington, DC, to participate within the March 4 plot, consistent with the joint intelligence bulletin.
One source noted to CNN that it's mostly online talk and not necessarily a sign anyone is coming to Washington to act thereon .
Some of the conspiracy theorists believe that the previous President are going to be inaugurated on March 4, consistent with the joint bulletin. Between 1793 and 1933, inauguration often fell on March 4 or a surrounding date.
US Capitol Police acting chief Yogananda Pittman told Congress earlier Wednesday that her department had "concerning intelligence" regarding subsequent few days in Congress -- but said it wouldn't be "prudent" of her to share the "law-enforcement sensitive" intelligence during a public hearing or public format.
Pittman assured lawmakers, though, that her department is in an "enhanced" security posture which the National Guard and Capitol Police are briefed on what to expect within the coming days.
Election fraud conspiracies
Perceived fraud and other conspiracy theories related to the presidential transition may contribute to violence with little or no warning, consistent with the bulletin, which is a component of a series of intelligence products to spotlight potential domestic violent extremist threats to the Washington, DC, region.
"Given that the Capitol complex is currently fortified sort of a facility , i do not anticipate any successful attacks against the property," said Brian Harrell, the previous assistant secretary for infrastructure protection at DHS.
"However, all threats should be taken seriously and investigations launched against those that would involve violence. We still see far-right extremist groups that are fueled by misinformation and conspiracy theories quickly become the foremost dangerous threat to society."
In the current environment, "You really cannot underestimate the potential that a private or alittle group of people will engage in violence because they believe a false narrative that they are seeing online," the US official said.
The false narrative of a stolen election remains drawing the eye of domestic extremists, the official said, adding that there are people "in the domestic extremist world who are calling for acts of violence in response thereto narrative."Although March 4 may be a concern to enforcement , it isn't a "standalone event," the official said; rather, it's a part of a "continuum of violence" based domestic extremist conspiracy theories.
"It's a threat that continues to be of concern to enforcement . and that i suspect that we are getting to need to be focused thereon for months to return ," the official said.The bulletin also notes that militia extremists "have allegedly threatened an attack against the US Capitol using explosives to kill as many members of Congress as possible during the upcoming State of the Union address, consistent with (the) US Capitol captain ."
Pittman warned last month that militia groups involved within the Epiphany insurrection want to "blow up the Capitol" and "kill as many members as possible" when President Joe Biden addresses a joint session of Congress.At the time, Pittman said enforcement remains concerned about threats by known militia groups "with an immediate nexus to the State of the Union" address.
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