Updated: Jan 28, 2021
America faces the threat of possible violent attacks within its borders, not by foreign terrorists, but by American citizens who still believe Donald Trump's lies that his election loss to Joe Biden was rigged.
"Information suggests that some ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives, could continue to mobilize to incite or commit violence," the Department of Homeland Security said in a National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) Bulletin Jan. 27.
While the warning appeared to be prompted by threats of continuing violence by pro-Trump agitators and conspiracy theory adherents in the aftermath of the January 6 attempted insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, DHS also listed other factors that were at least encouraged by Trump during his presidency, stating:
Throughout 2020, Domestic Violent Extremists (DVEs) targeted individuals with opposing views engaged in First Amendment-protected, non-violent protest activity. DVEs motivated by a range of issues, including anger over COVID-19 restrictions, the 2020 election results, and police use of force have plotted and on occasion carried out attacks against government facilities.
Long-standing racial and ethnic tension—including opposition to immigration—has driven DVE attacks, including a 2019 shooting in El Paso, Texas that killed 23 people.
DHS is concerned these same drivers to violence will remain through early 2021 and some DVEs may be emboldened by the January 6, 2021 breach of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. to target elected officials and government facilities.
DHS remains concerned that Homegrown Violent Extremists (HVEs) inspired by foreign terrorist groups, who committed three attacks targeting government officials in 2020, remain a threat.
The warning was issued even as 45 Republican senators have indicated they will not vote to convict Donald Trump of inciting that January 6 attempted insurrection in which five people died, including a police officer and four rioters. In the aftermath, the House of Representatives impeached Trump, with support of 10 Republican lawmakers.
Trump's Senate impeachment trial is scheduled to begin February 9, but yesterday 45 Republicans supported an objection raised by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) claiming it is unconstitutional to impeach and remove a former president.
“Impeachment is for removal from office, and the accused here has already left office,” Paul argued, saying the trial would “drag our great country down into the gutter of rancor and vitriol, the likes of which has never been seen in our nation’s history.”
Of course, the reason for the trial being held after Trump left office was because then Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) refused to hold it. Nevertheless, constitutional scholars say a former president still can be impeached to prevent him from ever holding public office again.
And, rancor and vitriol? What a hypocrite Rand Paul is. That is exactly what Trump fomented during his entire time in office, stirring racism and hatred against immigrants other minorities, and brainwashing millions of Americans into believing that only a rigged election could result in his defeat. Then he encouraged American "patriots" to "fight like hell" to save our nation by overturning the election by force.
Trump has been aided and abetted by politicians like Senators Paul, Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz and others, and now one of those conspiracy theory adherents, Marjorie Taylor Greene, a QAnon supporter, has been elected to the House of Representatives from Georgia, where she continues to foment violence, even advocating the assassination of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and others.
CNN reported Jan. 26 that Greene's Facebook feed has featured several endorsements of violence against Democrats and federal agents. For example, she "liked" a comment that said "a bullet to the head would be quicker" than removing Pelosi (D-CA) from her speakership.
The Washington Post reported that Greene, responding to a commenter who suggested hanging former president Barack Obama and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, said “Stage is being set. Players are being put in place. We must be patient. This must be done perfectly or liberal judges would let them off.” She also liked comments suggesting execution for FBI agents who were viewed as working with the “deep state” against then-President Trump.
A spokesperson for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said Greene's Facebook postings were "deeply disturbing," but did not say whether McCarthy would take any action against her.
Meanwhile, continuing threats have emerged on social media and on the dark web, likely providing at least part of DHS' reasoning for issuing its Alert.
On January 19, Amy Cooler, senior lecturer in sociology at Vanderbilt University, published a warning that the armed groups who participated in the Capitol riot pose a longer-term threat to the Biden presidency.
Some of the militia groups, she said, truly believe the election results were fraudulent. Some simply do not want to see Trump's presidency end because they believe Biden threatens their ideal of America. Some "believe it is their moral responsibility to prevent a further decline of American society and where possible, to fight for a return to this earlier time," she wrote.
Cooler pointed out that a video released by the New Yorker shows that some of those insurrectionists "view themselves as the arbiters of who is good and who is bad..."
Most Americans, I believe, are hoping for a return to civility and an end to the hate, rancor and division that has beset our nation, division that has been exacerbated by Trump and his henchmen like Cruz and Hawley, both of whom supported the Electoral College vote challenge spurring the January 6 attack.
It is clear, however, that this will be a long time in coming, if ever.
Now we've been warned to be wary of even our fellow citizens; that they may well foment future terrorist acts right here at home. Donald Trump, with his lies and his hateful actions is responsible for this, and he must be held accountable.