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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 
Press.

   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 
Sunday.

   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.

 
 
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