Extremist groups emboldened by Trump, 'lone wolf' concern rises

 The newly installed chief of the U.S. Capitol Police says the force, still struggling six months after an insurrection that left its officers battled, bloodied and bruised, “cannot afford to be complacent.” The risk to lawmakers is higher than ever. And the threat from lone-wolf attackers is only growing.

In an interview with The Associated Press, J. Thomas Manger said his force is seeing a historically high number of threats against lawmakers, thousands more than just a few years ago. He predicts authorities will respond to close to 9,000 threats against members of Congress in 2021 — more than 4,100 had been reported from January to March.

“We have never had the level of threats against members of Congress that we’re seeing today,” Manger said. “Clearly, we’ve got a bigger job in terms of the protection aspect of our responsibilities, we’ve got a bigger job than we used to.”

Manger touted changes that have been made in intelligence gathering after the department was widely criticized for being woefully underprepared to fend off a mob of insurrectionists in January. Officials had compiled intelligence showing white supremacists and other extremists were likely to assemble in Washington on Jan. 6 and that violent disruptions were possible. Police officers were brutally beaten in the insurrection.

The events of that day have redefined how the U.S. Capitol Police and other law enforcement agencies in Washington approach security. Extreme measures put into place two weeks ago for a rally in support of those jailed in the riot aren’t a one-off, they might be the new normal. Propelled by former President Donald Trump, the awakening of domestic extremist groups and the continued volatility around the 2020 election have changed the calculus.

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