House to wrap early amid threat of violence at Capitol
The U.S. House is abruptly finishing its work for the week given the threat of violence at the Capitol by a militia group seeking to storm the building, as happened in a deadly siege Jan. 6.
House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) notified lawmakers late Wednesday of the sudden schedule change.
The decision was made given the threats on the Capitol, according to a Democratic aide granted anonymity to discuss the matter.
The House had been scheduled to be in session Thursday, but moved up consideration of its remaining legislative item, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, to Wednesday night.
The U.S. Capitol Police said earlier Wednesday it has intelligence showing there is a “possible plot” by a militia group to breach the Capitol on Thursday.
The revelation was detailed in a statement from the Capitol Police. It came at the same time that the acting police chief was testifying before a House subcommittee.
“The United States Capitol Police Department is aware of and prepared for any potential threats towards members of Congress or towards the Capitol complex,” the agency said in a statement. “We have obtained intelligence that shows a possible plot to breach the Capitol by an identified militia group on Thursday, March 4.”
The statement differs from an advisory that was sent to members of Congress by the acting House sergeant at arms this week, saying that Capitol Police had “no indication that groups will travel to Washington D.C. to protest or commit acts of violence.”
The threat comes nearly two months after thousands of supporters of then-President Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol in a violent insurrection as Congress was voting to certify Joe Biden’s electoral win. So far, about 300 people have been charged with federal crimes for their roles in the riot. Five people, including a Capitol Police officer, died.
The Jan. 6 Capitol attack has compelled many pastors across the country to speak out on their struggles to combat the spread of misinformation, conspiracy theories and QAnon beliefs among their congregations.
Capitol Police officials say that they have stepped up security around the Capitol complex since January’s insurrection, adding physical security measures such as the fencing topped with razor wire around the Capitol and members of the National Guard who remain at the complex. The statement said the agency was “taking the intelligence seriously” but provided no other specific details on the threat.
The threat appears to be connected to a far-right conspiracy theory, mainly promoted by supporters of the QAnon theory, that Trump will rise again to power on March 4, which was the presidential Inauguration Day until 1933, when it was moved to Jan. 20.
Thousands of online accounts that promoted the Jan. 6 event that led to a violent storming of the U.S. Capitol have since been suspended by major tech companies including Facebook and Twitter, making it far more difficult for QAnon-linked organizations and other far-right groups to organize a repeat of the mass gathering on Thursday.
Twitter banned more than 70,000 accounts after the riots, while Facebook and Instagram removed posts mentioning “stop the steal,” a pro-Trump rallying cry used to mobilize his supporters in January. And the conservative social media platform Parler, which many of Trump’s supporters joined to promote false election fraud conspiracy theories and encourage friends to storm the Capitol on Jan. 6, was booted off the internet after the siege.
Federal security officials testify at Senate hearing about what went wrong during Capitol riot, when pro-Trump mob stormed the building.
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