- The House is wrapping early this week, following possible extremist threats at the Capitol Building.
- Far-right conspiracy theorists’ online talk of the importance of March 4 have worried law enforcement.
- Capitol Police will have an increased presence around the grounds through this weekend.
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Less than two months after the deadly Capitol siege, Congress is taking preventative steps to avoid another disaster amid the possibility of additional extremist attacks.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced Wednesday evening that the House would wrap its business a day earlier than scheduled, following reports of possible protests planned for Thursday, March 4 – a date that has galvanized right-wing conspiracy theorists online.
Earlier Wednesday, law enforcement officials alerted lawmakers to the potential threat to the US Capitol Building.
An internal memo sent by the acting House sergeant-at-Arms, Timothy Blodgett, said Capitol Police are monitoring information related to potential protests and demonstrations surrounding “what some have described as the ‘true Inauguration Day.'”
Blodgett said Capitol Police received “new and concerning information and intelligence” indicating interest in the Capitol Building by militia groups from March 4-6.
Capitol Police will have an increased presence throughout the Capitol Grounds, according to the memo, and the National Guard will continue to maintain its troops around the area.
Despite the bolstered protective measures, it remains unclear if members of extremist groups are actually planning to come to DC or if the talk of demonstrations is simply online chatter.
March 4 has emerged as an important date among conspiracy groups like QAnon and the Three Percenters, who believe former President Donald Trump will reclaim his role as Commander-in-Chief and lead a purge of his political and media opponents who they believe to be part of a secret ring of pedophiles.
Far-right groups have begun to fracture following the chaos of the January 6 Capitol riot, but many still believe Trump will be re-inaugurated March 4 – the original inauguration date before the 20th Amendment was passed, and the date conspiracy theorists believe the last “legitimate” president, Ulysses S. Grant, was inaugurated on in 1869.
The Department of Homeland Security’s acting intelligence chief, Melissa Smislova, told lawmakers during a Wednesday Senate hearing that her agency and the FBI issued an internal intelligence memo about “extremists discussing March 4, and March 6,” CNN reported.
The outlet also reported that acting Capitol Police Chief Yoganda Pittman told Congress on Wednesday that she had “concerning intelligence” regarding the next few days, but said it wouldn’t be “prudent” to share it in public. She did, however, assure members that Capitol Police have been briefed on the coming days.
Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, a Republican, told CNN’s Jake Tapper that Trump had a responsibility to tell extremists to “stand down.”
“This threat is credible. It’s real,” the lawmaker said about March 4.
Sen. Alex Padilla of California, a Democrat, told CNN that he and his colleagues are taking the threat “very seriously.”
“We still have yet to hold everybody accountable for what happened on the sixth,” Padilla said. “And we still haven’t made the many changes necessary to secure the Capitol going forward. So this is evolving in very real time. Frankly, this information from DHS may be officially new but not really surprising.”
In light of the altered schedule, the House will reconvene Wednesday night to debate and vote on the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which will be the final vote of the week.