Violent chatter has reportedly increased with Trump’s arrest warning

Federal officials, including those at the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, are watching what they say represents a surge in violent rhetoric online since former President Donald Trump urged his supporters to “protest” his impending arrest.

Multiple media outlets have reported that the gossip includes comments such as “civil war” and “worse than January 6th.”

But the online discussion was just that — and lacked the coordination, information and volume prior to the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol, federal officials and security experts told CNN.

“There was nothing specific or credible — either in terms of large-scale activity or violence,” the senior official said.

A senior law enforcement official also told CNN that while online chatter is increasing over time, everything is “familiar” to the intelligence community, meaning nothing is of paramount importance.

A key difference two years after Jan. 6, sources told CNN, is the threat of arrest that has risen in the minds of many would-be protesters.

A senior law enforcement official said a small protest Monday in New York City was a good example of the current situation. He said one group who were supposed to come decided against it for apparent fear of arrest.

Still, federal, state, and local law enforcement officials are wary of underestimating the potential violence, as they did before Jan. 6, when weeks of online threats followed a deadly attack on the Capitol.

CNN further reported that officials in Washington are preparing for demonstrations related to an impeachment against Trump that could erupt in violence.

But officials at the FBI and Department of Homeland Security are also wary of opening themselves to political attacks from Republicans, said the senior US official, who is wary of calling both agencies over anything considered a violation of people’s First Amendment rights .

Additionally, online rhetoric is relatively muted compared to 2021.

“The steady stream of anti-government hostility and increasingly violent rhetoric is worrying, but it has not yet reached the scale we saw leading up to January 6,” Ben Decker, CEO of online threat analysis firm Memetica, told CNN.

Some posts from influential right-wing figures in recent days have seemingly been aimed more at creating chaos than inciting violence.

Right-wing provocateur Jack Posobiec called for a “nationwide bank run” on Trump’s favorite social media platform, Truth Social, after Trump announced he would be arrested.

“There is a risk here that narratives about the recent Silicon Valley bank collapse and the possible arrest of President Trump will converge as influencers like Posobiec stoke talks about a possible bank run as a form of nonviolent protest,” said Lisa Kaplan, founder by tech firm Alethea Group, which tracks online disinformation campaigns.

One law enforcement expert said engagement was much lower than expected on some of the most aggressive posts they’d seen.

Some Trump allies, like Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene, have warned that any protests against Trump’s arrest could be infiltrated by federal agents.

Charges are widely believed to be filed against Trump over falsifying business records on Wednesday, with Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg already speaking to law enforcement, with notices stretching to US Secret Service. The former president is accused of facilitating a hush money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels to cover up an extramarital affair between the two.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence and other Republicans have called Trump’s possible arrest a political witch hunt.

Three GOP leaders in the House of Representatives sent a letter to Bragg Monday asking for the Manhattan Attorney’s testimony before Congress. They said the investigation was an “unprecedented abuse of prosecutors.”

“While we have not yet identified any concrete plans for large-scale violence, we remain concerned about individual acts of political violence that will take place in the coming days,” Daniel J. Jones, president of Advance Democracy, a nonprofit research organization, told CNN.

Meanwhile, intelligence sources told CBS News that there has been a “significant increase” in threats and violent rhetoric online from domestic violent extremists amid the threat of impeachment against Trump.

Domestic violent extremists have posted online warnings that prosecutors at the Manhattan Attorney’s Office would cross a red line if Trump were indicted, and it would be met with more violence than the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol. so the source told CBS.

CBS sources said the threats are primarily aimed at law enforcement, judges and government officials in New York and elsewhere who they see as participants in what they believe to be a political persecution of Trump.

“We will not tolerate attempts to intimidate our office or threaten the rule of law in New York,” Bragg wrote.

“Our law enforcement partners will ensure that any specific or credible threats against the office are fully investigated and that the proper protective measures are put in place so that all 1,600 of us have a safe work environment.”

A senior congressional source said Capitol Police plan to issue an emergency statement ahead of a possible indictment, CBS reported.

The statement allows for mutual aid from other departments and was used ahead of other recent protests.

The source said there is no specific information they are tracking, but the department is proactive in making the statement.

The Metropolitan Police Department said it was not aware of any potential Trump-related protests in the capital.

“MPD will continue to monitor and plan accordingly with our federal law enforcement partners to ensure the safety of DC residents and visitors,” MPD said in a statement.

The Metropolitan Police Department urged the public to “stay vigilant”.

“If you see something, say something,” MPD warned, using the department’s well-known adage.


Leave a Comment