Capitol Police say threats to Congress up 93%

04 Mars, 2021, 03:29 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • National Guard troops in DC hospitalized after being served undercooked food

Rep. Adriano Espaillat, D-N.Y., said he was "very concerned" about potential threats Thursday and wasn't sure whether the Capitol Police were adequately prepared to respond.

On Tuesday, the police force indicated that it was "aware of concerning information and intelligence pertaining to March 4th and continues to work with all of our law enforcement partners", without elaborating except to say that its "security posture and staffing" had been enhanced in response.

The House had been scheduled to debate and vote on a police reform bill, but a Democratic aide said plans changed due in part to the police warning, based on intelligence that "an identified militia group" could present a security threat.

Capitol Police leaders have said they were unaware of the report at the time, even though the Federal Bureau of Investigation had forwarded it to the department. Austin did not rule out any potential threats and said the guard will remain stationed to protect lawmakers. "In regards to public safety planning, MPD does not discuss operational tactics", police spokeswoman Alaina Gertz said in an email. Police did not identify the group.

"We are taking the intelligence seriously", it added.

Some lawmakers have said they're actually more anxious about being targeted at the airport or while traveling to and from their districts than being in their offices in the Capitol.

Online chatter suggests some in the QAnon movement see Thursday as a Trump inauguration day. Authorities have said right-wing extremists were part of a mob of supporters of former President Donald Trump that stormed the Capitol on January 6, interrupting the formal congressional certification of President Joe Biden's election victory.

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As ABC News reports, the Capitol complex remains surrounded by temporary fencing topped with razor wire, and 5,000 National Guard troops remain on site following the January 6 breach.

News of the suspected plot follows last week's announcement by Capitol Police that law enforcement was reviewing intelligence suggesting that a militia group was seeking to "blow up" the Capitol complex while President Joe Biden was inside addressing a joint session of Congress.

But after that briefing, members of Congress reacted negatively to the idea of maintaining expansive physical barriers to the Capitol. It was unclear if these upgrades were made in response to this latest threat or were measures put in place following the January 6 riot. "The idea of just making a permanent fortress or a permanent fence is too much of a knee-jerk solution", Van Hollen said.

Trump reiterated his false contention that the election was stolen during a speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference on Sunday, and intelligence officials told a Senate hearing on Wednesday that the perpetuation of the false narrative about the election had contributed to their concerns about future violence.

Pittman said that in the first two months of 2021, officials noted a 93 percent increase in threats against lawmakers as compared to the same period of 2020.

The statement was at odds with an advisory sent to members of Congress by the acting House sergeant-at-arms this week, saying that the Capitol Police had "no indication that groups will travel to Washington D.C.to protest or commit acts of violence", The Associated Press reports.

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