FBI Warns of Armed Election Protests Nationwide

Authorities are on high alert for extremist right-wing groups that are armed and said to pose a dangerous threat to all Americans following the insurrectionist siege of the U.S. Capitol.

Capitol police officers stand outside of fencing that was installed around the exterior of the Capitol grounds on Thursday. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

WASHINGTON (CN) — Not yet a week after an insurrectionist attack left five dead, the FBI reportedly sounded the alarm Monday on plans for additional armed protests in the U.S. capital and at various state legislatures.

The internal bulletin issued by the FBI’s National Crisis Coordination Center is circulating among law enforcement outfits around the nation, according to initial reports from ABC News.

It warns that identified armed groups plan to travel to Washington beginning Jan. 16. This would track with similar threats that extreme right-wing and white-supremacist groups have been circulating online for weeks, indeed well before the Jan. 6 attack.

The groups appear to be planning another armed uprising like what was seen on the day the House and Senate convened to count Electoral College votes that had already certified Joe Biden as U.S. president-elect. 

In addition to warnings of an attack if there are attempts to remove Trump from office, one of the armed organizations is calling for a “storming” of state, local and federal courthouses.

The news follows the introduction Monday of an article of impeachment against Trump in the House, which will also vote on a resolution that would trigger Trump’s removal by way of the 25th Amendment for having incited the insurrection.

Ahead of Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20, the Pentagon announced Monday that it has authorized the addition of at least 10,000 more National Guard members to the existing 6,200-person force now active in Washington following last week’s siege.

Army General Daniel Hokanson said Monday deployment levels could change based on need.

In a statement Monday, the FBI said it was not standard practice to comment on specific intelligence.

“Our efforts are focused on identifying, investigating, and disrupting individuals that are inciting violence and engaging in criminal activity. As we do in the normal course of business, we are gathering information to identify any potential threats and are sharing that information with our partners,” an FBI representative said. “The FBI respects the rights of individuals to peacefully exercise their First Amendment rights. Our focus is not on peaceful protesters, but on those threatening their safety and the safety of other citizens with violence and destruction of property.”

Critics say the president has inflamed supporters with false rhetoric about the results of any election not showing him as the winner.

The Department of Justice — run by Trump’s own appointees — found no evidence of the fraud or sweeping irregularities that Trump has repeatedly alleged.

Over and over again, counts, recounts, audits and painstaking review have revealed the same reality: that Biden won the election last November and beat Trump popularly with more than 7 million votes. Biden also won the Electoral College with 306 votes to Trump’s 232 votes. The minimum number required to secure the college is 270. 

Last week’s insurrectionists interrupted a ceremony that was largely perfunctory, giving lawmakers the chance to count each state’s electoral slate and hear objections. No matter the objection, however, the outcome would not have changed. The Electoral College certified Biden as winner in December.

Trump has for months whipped his supporters into a frenzy by asserting that mail-in voting was rife with fraud and that “Democrat-run cities” were bent on cheating him. Though mail-in voting has been used as a secure method in the U.S. for over a hundred years, the practice was significantly widespread last year because of the still-raging Covid-19 pandemic.

Having counted almost 400,000 pandemic-related deaths in this country under his watch, Trump has also seen his approval rating tanking across the U.S. for months.

Meantime, Trump’s flailing reelection campaign lost some 60 lawsuits contesting the election or voting methods — in many cases, it must be noted, before judges who were appointed by Republicans or the Trump administration itself. 

Jeffrey Reinbold, superintendent for the National Mall and Memorial Parks, said in a statement Monday that the groups involved in the Jan. 6 riots posed such a persistent threat to Biden’s inauguration, that the Washington Monument would also be closed to the public beginning Tuesday. 

The obelisk stands at over 550 feet tall and is surrounded by rolling grasses that offer visitors a chance to take in the National Mall’s manicured grounds and historic surroundings.

“These temporary closures are based upon a determination, in consultation with the local authorities, that such actions are necessary for the maintenance of public health and safety,” Reinbold said. 

Reports of forthcoming armed demonstrations or insurrection are cropping up all over the U.S. The Columbia Dispatch reported Monday that Columbus, Ohio, was among some of the major cities flagged for far-right activity in the weeks ahead.

While additional cities and states undertake contingency preparations, such plans are largely kept under wraps for security purposes.

Authorities in Boston and Atlanta, for example, have said they are aware of threats but have not verified any specifically in place for their cities.

In Virginia, the Boogaloo Boys, an extremist group of Second Amendment advocates with ties to white supremacists, is planning a pro-gun rally on Jan. 18 in Richmond, Virginia.

The white nationalist Proud Boys and the right-leaning militia group known as the Oath Keepers may be a part of the unrest expected to hit cities around the U.S. Both have for weeks contested Biden’s win.

Stewart Rhodes, leader of the extremist Oath Keepers group, has called on devotees of Trump’s to take to the streets and “defend the Constitution.” He has publicly called for violence, saying if people failed to see Biden removed, “we the people will have to fight a bloody revolution/civil war.”

Trump’s own lawyer Rudy Giuliani likewise called for “trial by combat” on Wednesday.

The White House did not immediately return request for comment Monday.

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