Intel Bulletins Warn of Surge in Violent Threats Over Trump Arrest

·6 min read
barricades trump - Credit: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images
barricades trump - Credit: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

The U.S. Capitol Police and other law enforcement agencies are reporting a surge in online threats of violence in the run-up to a possible arrest of Donald Trump, according to three government intelligence bulletins obtained by Rolling Stone and interviews with senior officials.

U.S. Capitol Police, the D.C. Fusion Center, and the Federal Highway Administration have all circulated warnings about the uptick in online threats over the past 48 hours. The bulletins and threat assessments detail some of the online threats and discussions about the use of specific tactics and methods for carrying out attacks — including online discussions about lethal attacks if Trump is arrested.

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On Saturday, the former president posted on Truth Social what was widely interpreted as a call for his followers to protest any potential legal action against him; many saw it as an echo of his call to join him at a “wild” protest in D.C. on Jan. 6, 2021.

On Sunday, the U.S. Capitol Police and the D.C. Fusion Center — the Washington, D.C.-area entity that’s part of the Department of Homeland Security’s post-9/11 intelligence-sharing network — shared their assessments of the situation with police and government agencies nationwide.

“The DC Fusion Center assesses that potential criminal justice actions taken toward a former US president — or actions perceived to be taken toward the former president — remain a ‘line in the sand’ for [Domestic Violent Extremist] communities and thus have the potential to manifest in violence toward government targets or political officials,” according to the Fusion Center report.

The report continued: “The March 18 announcement was met with an immediate increase in violent online rhetoric and expressed threats toward government and law enforcement targets perceived as participating in a political persecution of the former president, as well as calls for ‘Civil War’ more generally.”

The Fusion Center report was particularly concerned with posts by those that claimed violent action was the only possible response to an arrest of Trump. The Fusion and Capitol Police bulletins included several mentions of online posts referencing the Jan. 6 attack and calling for an even more lethal response to a potential Trump arrest.

“In one observed post, an anonymous user indicated that the arrest would result in ‘Jan 6*10 + Guns,’ while another observed post stated, ‘It’s now or never. We need to see the true version of January 6,’ ” the D.C. Fusion Center report says. The post was also included in a U.S. Capitol Police report.

It’s the job of these intelligence-gathering groups to be sensitive — sometimes oversensitive — to potential threats, large and small. One senior law enforcement official tells Rolling Stone the bulletins are a mixture of necessary caution — no one wants a repeat of Jan. 6 — and an effort to ensure that, if there is violence, the agencies aren’t faulted for a lack of preparation. “This all feels a bit too familiar, and I think we do, of course, care, genuinely. But we are all also, in my opinion, making sure our respective agencies cover their ass in case it goes in that direction,” says the official, who is involved in tracking threats tied to a potential Trump arrest.

The official added, “Look, what we’re seeing now looks a lot like what we were seeing before Jan. 6 and nobody wants to see that again and everyone is sharing the open source information because that didn’t happen before Jan. 6 and we are not trying to have that happen again.”

The March 19 U.S. Capitol Police bulletin noted that since the raid of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence, law enforcement has observed a steady stream of threats against the FBI and its agents. The news of a potential Trump arrest increased these types of threats, according to the report.

The bulletin also flagged threats to kill Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and his prosecutors, to bomb the courthouse, to kill law enforcement, to kill government employees, and to kill journalists and  others.

There’s been a sharp increase in calls for violence and potential threats on the same far-right and pro-Trump websites used to plan the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, according to intelligence bulletins and threat assessments obtained by Rolling Stone. Other online posts being scrutinized by law enforcement include calls for militia groups and extremist groups like the Boogaloo Boys to join together to kill cops, judges, journalists, and anyone else they see. Others called for large-scale protests surrounding Mar-a-Lago to prevent law enforcement from taking the former president into custody, according to social media posts reviewed by Rolling Stone. Multiple online users said they were willing to die for the cause and called on other Trump supporters to make similar sacrifices.

Of course, there’s a difference between words and action. Determining what is a credible threat and what is protected speech remains a challenge for law enforcement, but the uptick in threats and widespread calls for violence has federal and local law enforcement concerned and bracing for what could happen.

“There is hypervigilance right now, this is why there’s so many intelligence bulletins especially coming from folks in D.C.,” says a different source, a senior intelligence official involved in tracking threats tied to a possible Trump arrest. “There’s a concerning amount of potential threats, specific threats and look we don’t want to say oh we did it again, we saw everyone posting about plans for an attack but didn’t act on it or didn’t take it seriously or didn’t share what we saw with who we needed to share it with.”

The specifics surrounding potential Trump’s arrest remain uncertain. Bragg has not confirmed a coming indictment or arrest of Trump, despite the president’s assertions on social media. Bragg’s office directed Rolling Stone to an office-wide email sent by the District Attorney on Saturday, which was first reported by Politico. In the email, Bragg assured his employees that the office would not bow to threats or external pressures. “We do not tolerate attempts to intimidate our office or threaten the rule of law in New York,” the email stated.

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

The DA’s office declined to comment further on the specific threats against its office included in the intelligence bulletins obtained by Rolling Stone.

The Federal Highway Administration also circulated an alert on Monday warning of online calls to disrupt the national highway system and other other the national highway system and other other travel operations. “Tactics mentioned included using dump trucks to drop ‘a few tons of gravel on six bridges’ in hopes of making them unusable thereby causing a ‘serious hit to food and economic deliveries’ in and out of New York,” the security bulletin noted.

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