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Tag: Congress

DOJ to Launch Domestic Terrorism Unit Amid Alarming Rise in Cases

By Steve Neavling

The Justice Department is creating a new unit tasked with combating domestic terrorism. 

Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen made the announcement during testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, The Washington Post reports.

The move comes amid an alarming rise in domestic extremism. Olsen said the number of domestic extremism cases handled by the FBI have more than doubled since the spring of 2020. 

The new group will include a group of lawyers who will ensure that cases will be “handled properly and effectively coordinated” across the department and federal law enforcement .

“This group of dedicated attorneys will focus on the domestic terrorism threat, helping to ensure that these cases are handled properly and effectively coordinated across the Department of Justice and across the country,” Olsen said.

More than 725 people have been charged for their role in the Jan. 6 insurrection. 

FBI Director Christopher Wray previously said that the number of agents and analysts working on domestic terrorism cases has more than tripled. 

Ex-Homeland Security Official Cuccinelli Questioned by Congressional Committee about Jan. 6

Ken Cuccinelli

By Steve Neavling

Former top Homeland Security official Ken Cuccinelli was questioned by the U.S. House committee that is investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. 

Cuccinelli, who served as deputy Homeland Security secretary from 2019 to 2021, was asked about the events of Jan. 6 and what the agency did to prepare for them, CNN reports.

He said the committee also asked him about discussions he had with Trump. He said he declined to discuss details of those conversations. 

Cuccinelli was considered a Trump loyalist and was often in meetings when the administration discussed the election results. Trump even broached the idea of appointing Cuccinelli to serve as “special counsel” to investigate voter fraud.

Bannon Surrenders to FBI After Being Indicted for Defying Congressional Subpoena

Steve Bannon moments before surrendering to the FBI. Photo: Screenshot of his live-streamed video.

By Steve Neavling

Steve Bannon, a onetime top advisor to former President Trump, turned himself in to the FBI after he was indicted last week for defying a congressional subpoena to provide information to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. 

Bannon, a 67-year-old right-wing media personality, surrendered at the FBI’s Washington Field Office. In a live-streamed video moment earlier, Bannon was defiant.

“I don’t want anybody to take their eye off the ball of what we do every day,” Bannon said before surrendering. “We got the Hispanics coming on our side, African Americans coming on our side; we’re taking down the Biden regime.” 

“I want you guys to stay focused, stay on message,” he said. “Remember, signal not noise.”

A grand jury indicted Bannon on two counts of contempt of Congress. He faces up to one year of jail on each count. 

“As detailed in the indictment, on Sept. 23, 2021, the Select Committee issued a subpoena to Mr. Bannon,” Matthew M. Graves, U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, said in a statement. “The subpoena required him to appear and produce documents to the Select Committee, and to appear for a deposition before the Select Committee. According to the indictment, Mr. Bannon refused to appear to give testimony as required by subpoena and refused to produce documents in compliance with a subpoena.”

Arraignment has not yet been scheduled. 

DOJ Authorizes Former Trump Officials to Testify in Jan. 6 Congressional Probe

Alex Gakos/Shutterstock.com

By Steve Neavling

The Justice Department has given permission to former Trump administration officials to participate in Congress’ investigation into the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. 

The DOJ notified the former officials this week and said they could give “unrestricted testimony” to the House Oversight and Reform Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee, The New York Times reports.

The committee are investigating Trump’s role in the riot and the former administration’s efforts to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory. 

The notification alleviates fears that the Justice Department would assert executive privilege, a common tactic used by Trump’s White House to avoid administration officials from testifying before Congress. 

According to the department’s notice, former officials may provide unrestricted testimony “so long as the testimony is confined to the scope of the interviews set forth by the committees” and does not disclose classified information or pending criminal cases. 

Trump Conspiracy Theory Could Fuel Violence, Homeland Security Warns

President Trump, via White House

By Steve Neavling

Homeland Security officials are worried that the conspiracy theory claiming Donald Trump will be reinstated as president could fuel violence. 

John Cohen, the agency’s top counterterrorism official, discussed the concerns with members of the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security, POLITICO reports.

Cohen told members of Congress that the agency is monitoring extremist communities on social media.   

Among the concerns is that the conspiracy theory falsely suggests the election was rigged. 

The conspiracy theory has been promoted by Mike Lindell, the pillow magnate and Trump devotee. Reporters for The New York Times and National Review also indicated Trump believed the conspiracy theory.

After the POLITICO story was published, a DHS spokesperson said, “The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is focused on the nexus between violence and extremist ideologies, as well as hateful and false narratives. DHS is enhancing its ability to prevent acts of violence inspired by disinformation, conspiracy theories, and extremist narratives spread through social media and other online platforms.”

FBI Agents Association Calls for Making Domestic Terrorism a Federal Crime

By Steve Neavling

The FBI Agents Association is calling on the Biden administration to make domestic terrorism a federal crime. 

The group, which represents more than 14,000 active and former special agents, applauded the administration for launching a new strategy to combat terrorism. 

But, the group said, the plan does not include an enforceable domestic terrorism statue, Axios reports.

Domestic terrorism is currently not a federal criminal offense, though it is defined under federal law. 

“As the plan points out, ‘domestic terrorism’ is defined by federal law,” the FBI Agents Association said in a statement. “Despite this definition, domestic terrorism is not a federal crime with a penalty. Penalties are required for the definition to be an effective deterrent for would-be perpetrators and an effective tool for law enforcement.”

Following the deadly Jan. 6 riot, Congress has considered making domestic terroism a federal offense. But some members of Congress worry an enforceable domestic terrorism law could be used to criminalize political dissent. 

“Making domestic terrorism a federal crime would not result in the targeting of specific ideas or groups,” the FBI Agents Association countered. “Rather, it would target acts of violence that have no place in the political discourse secured by our Constitution and Bill of Rights.”

FBI Warns Lawmakers That QAnon Adherents Could Wage ‘Real World Violence’

Stop the count rally in Detroit following the presidential election. Photo: Steve Neavling

By Steve Neavling

Adherents of the baseless conspiracy movement QAnon are getting frustrated and could become violent, the FBI warned members of Congress. 

In a bulletin issued to lawmakers on June 4 and reported by Reuters, the FBI said that some QAnon believers have grown frustrated that the movement’s predictions, such as Donald Trump becoming reinstated as president and Democrats being exposed as child sex traffickers, have not materialized.

Saying followers can “no longer ‘trust the plan,’” the FBI warned that some adherents may soon begin to believe they have an “obligation” to transform from “serving as ‘digital soldiers’ towards engaging in real world violence” against Democrats and “other political opposition.”

The QAnon movement claims Trump is waging a secret war against a cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles.

Some of the adherents participated in the deadly Jan. 6 riot in Washington D.C. 

DOJ Investigating Rep. Gaetz for Alleged Sexual Relationship with Teenage Girl

U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Florida.

By Steve Neavling

The Justice Department is investigating U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., for a sexual relationship he allegedly had with a 17-year-old girl, The New York Times reports

The investigation is trying to determine whether Gaetz, a 38-year-old conservative firebrand and close ally of former President Trump, violated federal sex trafficking laws. The probe began under then-Attorney General William Barr. 

Gaetz denied the allegations on Twitter and in media interviews, saying he and his family “have been victims of an organized and criminal extortion involving a former DOJ official seeking $25 million while threatening to smear my name.”

“We have been cooperating with federal authorities in this matter and my father has even been wearing a wire at the FBI’s direction to catch these criminals,” Gaetz tweeted. The planted leak to the FBI tonight was intended to thwart the investigation.”

Gaetz repeated his denials on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News program, which the host later called “one of the weirdest interviews I’ve ever conducted.”

The investigation is part of a broader probe of allegations against Joel Greenberg, a former county official in Florida who was arrested last year on charges of sex trafficking of a minor. 

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