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Homeland Security Warns of Threats from Domestic Violent Extremists

By Steve Neavling

The Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday warned in a bulletin of the potential for violence from domestic extremists following the U.S. Capitol siege. 

The department didn’t mention specific threats but described “a heightened threat environment across the United States, which DHS believes will persist in the weeks following the successful Presidential Inauguration.”

“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 bulletin said.

The bulletin added that extremists may be “emboldened” by the Capitol riot. 

The motivation for future violence includes “anger over COVID-19 restrictions, the 2020 election results, and police use of force.”

It added that some violent extremists are motivated by “long-standing racial and ethnic tension,” such as immigration issues. The bulletin cited the 2019 mass shooting at a Wall Mart in El Paso, Texas, that left 23 people dead. 

More than 400 suspects in the Capitol riots have been identified, and about 135 have been arrested. At least 134 police officers were assaulted and injured during the siege.

Comey Says Senate Should Ban Trump from Running for Public Office

Former FBI Director James Comey, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

Former FBI Director James Comey says the Senate should convict Donald Trump for inciting a riot at the U.S. Capitol and prohibit him from running for public office in the future. 

“It’s an offense committed in broad daylight in front of the whole country,” Comey said in an interview Wednesday with Power & Politics.

The Senate trial of Trump’s second impeachment is set to begin in early February. Trump is accused of “inciting an insurrection.”

Comey, whom Trump fired in May 2017, said the House impeachment is “a very important first step.”

But the impeachment alone doesn’t ban him from holding public office. That will require action by the Senate, which may not have enough votes from Republicans. 

“Part of the accountability for the attack on Capitol Hill has to be him being found to have committed it and then most importantly, maybe of all, is barred from ever holding office again,” he said.

Rate of Firearms Seized at Airports Doubled in 2020, TSA Says

Guns seized by TSA.

By Steve Neavling

The TSA revealed Tuesday that the rate of firearms detected at airport security checkpoints doubled in 2020. 

The agency discovered about 10 firearms per million passengers last year, twice the rate of 2019 and “at a significantly higher rate than any other years since the agency’s inception,” TSA said in a news release.

In all, TSA officer detected 3,257 guns on passengers or in their carry-on bags at checkpoints in 2020. About 83% of the firearms were loaded. 

“I commend our officers for their commitment to TSA’s security mission by identifying and stopping these weapons at the TSA checkpoints. Firearms are strictly prohibited onboard planes in the passenger cabin,” Senior Official Performing the Duties of TSA Administrator Darby LaJoye said in a statement. “Bringing a firearm to a TSA security checkpoint poses a serious risk to TSA officer and passenger safety, and doing so may result in significant fines or arrest.”

 Firearms were detected at 234 airports nationwide. The most were discovered at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, followed by Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, and Denver International Airport rounded off the top 5. 

Mayorkas Moves Closer to Becoming Confirmed Homeland Security Secretary

Alejandro Mayorkas

By Steve Neavling

Alejandro Mayorkas, President Biden’s nomination to lead the Department of Homeland Security, moved closer to taking the helm. 

The Senate Homeland Security Committee on Tuesday advanced his nomination to a full vote in Congress. 

“Our nation is facing historic security challenges right now, from the recent attack on our capital, two major cyber breaches of our federal agencies, and a pandemic that continues to take the lives of thousands of Americans every day,” Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., said, Roll Call reports. “These are serious challenges, and we need steady, qualified and experienced leaders at DHS.”

The panel approved his nomination with a 7-4 vote. Republican Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio and Mitt Romney of Utah joined Democrats in supporting the nomination. Last week, Sen. Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican, blocked the fast-track confirmation process for Mayorkas, potentially dashing Biden’s hopes for a quick confirmation.

Portman said it’s important to have a confirmed Homeland Security secretary to address numerous potential threats facing the nation. 

“We’ve got the massive cyber security attack that we aren’t talking about much because it seems like everything else has become more important, but that probably is the most significant national security threat we’ve had in this country in years,” Portman said. 

Mayorkas, 61, is poised to become the first immigrant and Hispanic to lead the department. 

Mayorkas served as deputy homeland security secretary from 2013 to 2016 under President Obama. A former U.S. attorney in California, Mayorkas also served as director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services during Obama’s first term.  

Born in Cuba, Mayorkas and her family arrived as refugees in the 1960s, settling in Southern California. His mother was a Holocaust survivor. Mayorkas graduated from the University of California-Berkeley and earned a law degree from Loyola Law School. 

DOJ: At Least 134 Officers Assaulted During Capitol Siege on Jan. 6

Alex Gakos/Shutterstock.com

By Steve Neavling

U.S. Capitol rioters assaulted and injured at least 134 police officers during the Jan. 6 insurrection, the Justice Department said in a court filing. 

Of those, 81 officers were from the Capitol Police force and 58 from the Washington D.C. Metro Police Department, Newsweek reports.

A police officer also was killed. 

The FBI has arrested more than 100 alleged rioters, and the Justice Department is building a case that alleges some of the insurrectionists had planned and conspired to overthrow the government. 

DOJ’s IG Investigating Whether Department Tried to Overturn Election

Inspector General Michael Horowitz testifying before Senate Judiciary Committee.

By Steve Neavling

The Justice Department’s inspector general said Monday he’s launching an investigation into whether any department officials “engaged in an improper attempt” to overturn the presidential election. 

The announcement follows news reports that former President Trump tried to get department officials to challenge election results.

“The inspector general is initiating an investigation into whether any former or current D.O.J. official engaged in an improper attempt to have D.O.J. seek to alter the outcome of the 2020 presidential election,” IG Michael Horowitz said in a statement, The New York Times reports

Before resigning in December, then-Attorney General William Barr said there was no evidence of widespread election fraud, contradicting Trump’s repeated and false assertions that the election was stolen from him.

Ex-TSA Agent Gets 60 Days in Jail for Tricking Woman into Showing Her Breasts at LAX

By Steve Neavling

A former TSA agent charged with detaining a woman and tricking her into showing him her breasts in June 2019 has been sentenced to 60 days in jail and two years of probation. 

Jonathon Lomeli was accused of deceiving the woman to get her to expose herself to him at Los Angeles International Airport. 

Lomeli pleaded no contest Friday to using fraud or deceit to falsely imprison the woman and was also ordered to attend 52 classes addressing sexual compulsion, The Associated Press reports.

Lomeli also has been banned from serving as a security guard. 

According to the woman, Lomeli advised her he had to check the inside of her bra to ensure she wasn’t concealing anything and told her to pull her pants from her waist so he could examine. While in an elevator, she said Lomeli told her he could screen here there and told her to show her breasts before looking down her pants. 

She said he also told her she had nice breasts after notifying her that she could leave. 

Comey Regrets Not Standing Up More to Trump

Former FBI James Comey in previous testimony, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

FBI Director James Comey said he should have stood up more to former President Trump. 

In an interview with British program, Channel 4 News, Comey said he did “think about some of my encounters with President Trump.”

“For example, when he demanded loyalty and we ended up on this odd compromise where he demanded ‘honest loyalty.’ I should have stood up and said ‘no’ you are not going to get any kind of loyalty from the FBI director, but instead I compromised to avoid a conflict with him,” Comey said. 

“I don’t want to be too tough on myself because I stood up well enough to get fired, but there are things like that I would do differently.” 

When asked if he still believes President Biden should pardon Trump so the country can move forward, Comey also said “it is a close question.”

“On balance, it would be better for the United States if the Department of Justice didn’t prosecute him for his obstructions of justice and his extortions and his other crimes committed while he was president,” he said. “Whether President Biden pardons him is another question.”

Comey added, “I think it’s important that we as a country not give him center stage in our nation’s capital for the next three years which a prosecution would.”