White House dismissed Homeland Security push to focus more on domestic terrorism: report

The White House repeatedly rejected the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) efforts to increase focus on domestic terrorism, CNN reported on Wednesday.

For more than a year, the White House rebuffed a DHS push to make domestic terror a higher priority as part of the National Counterterrorism Strategy, according to the network, citing current and former senior administration officials and other sources close to the administration.


"Ultimately the White House just added one paragraph about domestic terrorism as a throw-away line” in the National Counterterrorism Strategy, a senior source involved in the discussion reportedly said.

The final version of the strategy focuses overwhelmingly on Islamic terrorism and includes a paragraph about “other forms of violent extremism,” including racially motivated extremism, militia groups and environmentalist extremists, with no specific mention of white supremacists.

"DHS is surging resources to the [domestic terrorism] issue, but they're behind the curve because of lack of support from the White House," one current senior administration official told CNN.

The report comes after FBI Director Christopher Wray testified before Congress last month that almost as many domestic terror arrests were made as international terror arrests in the first three quarters of the fiscal year, adding that most of those arrests involved white supremacists.

Another senior official defended the administration’s analysis on domestic terror, noting that it was the first national strategy to include it to begin with.

"This issue continues to be a priority for this Administration, and the National Security Council has launched an interagency process focused on combating domestic terrorism in support of the President's counterterrorism strategy,” the official told CNN.

A former senior administration official told the network that the administration is cagey about criticizing white supremacy.

The former official said that they did not expect the White House to prioritize domestic terror "because the preponderance of it involves white supremacy and that's not something this administration is comfortable speaking out against, until the other day by the president and even that was pretty hedged," according to CNN.

While Trump condemned white supremacy after a mass shooting that killed 22 in El Paso, Texas, where the suspect has been tied to a racist, anti-immigrant manifesto, he earlier this year said he did not believe white supremacy posed a major threat, calling it "a small group of people that have very, very serious problems" in the wake of the deadly mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand.

DHS officials attempted to compromise with the administration and asked for a subsequent strategy specifically covering domestic terror, but the White House declined, CNN said.

The Hill has reached out to the White House and DHS for comment.