Online security

Lawmakers are increasingly under threat – sometimes from each other

Just over a year after the vicious attack on the Capitol, threats against lawmakers have only escalated alongside a wave of violent rhetoric shared online and even inside the building.

Threats against lawmakers reached an all-time high of 9,600, according to United States Capitol Police (USCP) data shared at a hearing last week, surpassing 2020 figures.

The risk was brought to the fore last Thursday, when USCP officers arrested a Michigan woman who they say showed up outside department headquarters with multiple guns seeking to talk about the riot. from January 6, 2021 to the Capitol.

On the anniversary of that attack, a Department of Homeland Security memo obtained by The Hill warned that calls for violent action against lawmakers were growing online. This includes a video calling for the hanging of lawmakers outside the White House which has now been viewed more than 60,000 times.

Some of the violent rhetoric comes from within the walls of Congress itself.

representing Paul GosarPaul Anthony GosarLegislators Are Increasingly Threatened—Sometimes From Each Other McCarthy says he’ll strip Democrats of committee seats if the GOP wins the House Should We Expand the House of Representatives? The founders thought so MORE (R-Arizona) was censored and removed from committees after posting an animated video of him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezLawmakers are under increasing threat — sometimes from each other Maryland Democrat announces positive COVID-19 test Last member of Colorado Democrat to test positive for COVID-19 MORE (DN.Y.).

representing Marjorie Taylor GreeneMarjorie Taylor GreeneGOP is working to downplay the danger of increased riots on Capitol Hill The memo: What now for anti-Trump Republicans? Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene says she’ll meet Trump ‘soon’ in Florida MORE (R-Ga.) Last week suggested using Second Amendment rights to defend against Democrats.

The Second Amendment “gives us the ability to defend ourselves against a tyrannical government,” she said. “And I hate to use that language, but Democrats, they’re doing exactly what our founders talked about when they gave us the precious rights we have.”

Tim Roemer, a former Democratic lawmaker and 9/11 commissioner, said such comments put some lawmakers on edge.

“Too often, and far too sadly, members of Congress seem to experience a nasty and vengeful divorce from each other. There is little trust and no respect, which are the foundations of law-making,” a- he told The Hill, calling for bipartisan efforts to fix the legislature.

“People feel that their own safety is not guaranteed. Some members feel like other members want to attack them — these are not just threats coming from one constituency, this is coming directly from within Congress,” he continued.

Roemer said members’ personal bodyguards have become prolific as COVID has left members discouraged by those who refuse to wear masks.

“Add it all together and you have an atmosphere of severe dysfunction with high potential for additional volatility.”

The House has now spent a year with metal detectors lining the floor entrances, with members having to be checked before voting.

While many lawmakers have complained about the process and several have been fined for skipping and flouting the security measure, most have adapted, albeit demanding fixes to speed up votes.

However, Rep. Marc AmodeiMark Eugene AmodeiLawmakers are under increasing threat — sometimes from each other Nevada lawmakers approve maps giving Democrats an edge GOP lawmakers introduce Columbus Day measure MORE (R-Nev.) Said the House might need to invest in better equipment to speed up the process so it doesn’t feel like “a TSA operation.”

“I’m really looking forward to an update on how we’re going to restore some decorum to just going into rooms and making sure no one is wearing,” he said on Tuesday. at the Capitol Police Board.

Democratic lawmakers are growing increasingly frustrated with the leadership across the aisle for not doing more to condemn the alarming rhetoric of its members.

“We have passed the point of concern. Stirring up anger as a way to campaign for money and political stardom presents a clear and present danger to colleagues and their families — and not just Democrats,” the rep said. dean phillipsDean PhillipsLawmakers increasingly under threat — sometimes from each other Jan. 6 brings Democrats and Cheneys together — with GOP mostly absent In their own words: Lawmakers, staffers recall uprising from January 6 MORE (DM.N.) told The Hill.

“In the absence of self-regulation, I believe the ethics committee must begin to play a meaningful, non-partisan role in holding members accountable for their behavior. Otherwise, partisan punishment will only create a vicious cycle as the pendulum of power swings back and forth.

Other lawmakers have suggested Capitol police could play a role.

“I am concerned for the mental health of my colleague from Georgia and would like @CapitolPolice to respond to her dangerous threats in my workplace,” the rep said. haley stevensHaley Maria StevensLegislators are under increasing threat – sometimes from each other Tlaib announces a race in the new Detroit district with Lawrence retiring Four states to present primaries with two incumbents in 2022 MORE (D-Mich.) tweeted about Greene.

“As we would at any school or construction site, we cannot let the calls for gun violence pass.”

Rita Katz, executive director of the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors the online activity of white supremacist groups and other extremists, said comments like Greene’s reverberate online.

“Some legislators are indeed a source of threats. Comments from figures like Marjorie Taylor Greene are regularly shared and converted into rallying cries for certain segments of the far right,” she said in an email to The Hill.

Attorney General Merrick GarlandMerrick GarlandLawmakers increasingly under threat — sometimes from each other The Hill’s Morning Report — Presented by Facebook — Democrats see victory in a voting rights defeat reviewed some of the escalating threats in a speech on the anniversary of the Capitol attack.

“A congressman was threatened in a horrific voicemail asking if she had ever seen what a 50 caliber shell does to a human head. Another congressman, an Iraq War veteran and Purple Heart recipient received threats that left her terrified for her family,” he said.

“These acts and threats of violence are not associated with any set of partisan or ideological opinions. But they permeate so many parts of our national life that they risk normalizing and becoming routine if we don’t stop them. It is dangerous for people’s safety. And it is deeply dangerous for our democracy.

Last week, House Sergeant-at-Arms William Walker told members of the House Appropriations Committee that he believed more resources should be allocated to the security of lawmakers.

Walker said that “at best” each House district would have two law enforcement coordinators to help mitigate threats to lawmakers and their families. He also said Congress “should invest money in securing residences” with equipment such as motion detectors and video doorbells to detect intruders.

When a threat arises, Capitol Police must consider “the means, ability and motive to act,” Walker said, before they can press charges, but he said such threats generally don’t receive the same attention as those targeting the President or a member of the Cabinet, which are subject to a special status and are liable to aggravated penalties.

“If members of Congress could somehow be elevated to have that kind of status, I think that would go a long way in preventing these individuals from making these reckless threats,” he said.

Scott Wong and Cristina Marcos contributed.