House

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

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 Trump 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.

In the aftermath of the Jan. 6 insurrection, some lawmakers temporally relocated their families for safety reasons and some wore bulletproof vests during President Biden's inauguration, according to the Times. 

Rep. Tom Reed (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 Garamendi (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. 

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