Threats against members of Congress on track to double those in 2020

Threats against members of Congress on track to double those in 2020
© AP/Pool

The Capitol Police have ​​reported 4,135 threats against lawmakers during the first three months of 2021, putting the number of threats on track to double those from the previous year, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Concerns over the possible violence against lawmakers have skyrocketed since a mob of supporters of former President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump goes after Cassidy after saying he wouldn't support him for president in 2024 Jan. 6 panel lays out criminal contempt case against Bannon Hillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Agencies sound alarm over ransomware targeting agriculture groups MORE stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6. But the issue has caused concern among those on Capitol Hill for years.

According to the Times, Capitol Police reported a total of 5,206 threats made toward lawmakers in 2018, with the total number rising to 8,613 by 2020.

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In the aftermath of the Jan. 6 insurrection, some lawmakers temporally relocated their families for safety reasons and some wore bulletproof vests during President BidenJoe BidenJan. 6 panel lays out criminal contempt case against Bannon Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by the American Petroleum Institute — Democrats address reports that clean energy program will be axed Two House Democrats to retire ahead of challenging midterms MORE’s inauguration, according to the Times. 

Rep. Tom ReedTom ReedDemocratic retirements could make a tough midterm year even worse The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats argue price before policy amid scramble Fifth House Republican comes out in support of bipartisan infrastructure bill MORE (R-N.Y.) told the Times that he used to downplay the threats he received until a man was arrested and charged after leaving a dead rat with a noose around its neck and a brick bearing the name of one of his family members on his doorstep. 

“It traumatized my kids,” Reed said. “I don’t discount the threats like I used to. You can’t disregard it. You have to recognize it is part of the job.”

“It’s difficult, and particularly difficult for the family,” said Rep. John GaramendiJohn Raymond GaramendiWhy is Biden doubling down on Trump's nuclear expansion? Overnight Defense & National Security — Pentagon officials get grilling from House Defense secretary blames State Department for delay in Afghanistan evacuation MORE (D-Calif.). “There are risks in this job. There’s no doubt about it. We spend millions of dollars to let everybody know who we are. So you become a target.”

In response to the rising number of threats, the Capitol Police has branched out to create two satellite offices in Northern California and Florida, where most of the reported threats come from, according to the Times. 

This comes as experts have blamed social media and cable news on the increase of threats, while adding that the Trump administration’s “divisive and racist” rhetoric played a role as well.

The Capitol Police inspector general office in May recommended a slew of new initiatives, including creating an entirely new division staffed with analysts, agents and officers; hiring more agents in the Threat Assessment Section; and an increase in intelligence gathering and surveillance.