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Feds on guard for domestic extremists targeting Biden’s address to Congress

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Chief says Capitol response not based on race

Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman denies law enforcement failed to take warnings of violence prior to Jan. 6 seriously because many of the people traveling to Washington before the Capitol insurrection were white. (Feb. 25)

AP

The threat to the Biden administration transition persists, and federal authorities are “very closely” monitoring the run-up to the president’s upcoming address to a joint session of Congress, a senior federal official said Friday.

Addressing the continuing risk posed by domestic extremists, the official’s assessment comes a day after the acting U.S. Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman warned that militia groups that took part in the deadly Jan. 6 attack are seeking to “blow up the Capitol,” possibly targeting President Joe Biden’s address.

“We know that members of the militia groups that were present on Jan. 6 have stated their desire that they want to blow up the Capitol and kill as many members as possible, with a direct nexus to the State of the Union,” she said.

More: Acting Capitol police chief: No ‘specific credible threat’ before riot; officers unsure of lethal force authority

In the coming weeks, Biden is expected to give his first formal address to Congress – similar to a State of the Union address. The date of the speech has not yet been scheduled.

“We have been worried that domestic violent extremists would react, not only to the results of an election that they may not see as favorable, but the transition of a government that they may question,” the federal official said.

On Friday, federal officials did not elaborate on any specific threat, but offered a daunting account of a growing overall domestic risk that in recent years has outstripped the threat of major violence posed by international groups.

The threats from racially and ethnically motivated extremists has been building for years, the officials said, adding that all 56 FBI field offices have active domestic terror investigations pending.

Acting Deputy Attorney General John Carlin, in a statement Friday, said said the investigation in the Jan. 6 attacks is continuing “at a speed and scale that is unprecedented.”

As of late Thursday, he said, more than 300 suspects had been charged and 280 have been arrested.

“The threat, of course, is bigger than any one event, no matter how horrific,” Carlin said.

Carlin said federal authorities are bringing all available resources to bear against the threat, drawing parallels to the government’s response to the 9/11 attacks.

“Success is not the prosecution of a violent extremist or terrorist after the fact when families have lost loved ones or are grieving,” Carlin said. “But success is the disruption before violence occurs, and that always has to be the goal of our counterrorism work.”

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Chief: Capitol Police prepared, but not for a riot

The acting chief of the U.S. Capitol Police is testifying before Congress as lawmakers press for answers about intelligence failures that allowed thousands of supporters of then-President Donald Trump to storm the Capitol last month. (Feb 25)

AP

Contributing: Nicholas Wu

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