The House’s chief law enforcement officer tightens security for traveling lawmakers as Congress reassesses security at a time when threats against members have previously increased Donald Trump’s supporters attacked the Capitol.
Capitol police officers will be stationed at airports in the Washington area and at the Union Station train depot on busy travel days, the acting sergeant said in a memo received on Friday. Timothy P. Blodgett said he had set up an online portal so lawmakers could notify the agency of travel plans, and urged them to coordinate trips with local police and airport officials and to report suspicious activity to authorities.
The Capitol Police “will not be available for personal escorts,” said the email sent late Thursday. “They will, however, be in place to monitor how members move around the airport.”
The moves underscored the political divisions that became increasingly sharp and even potentially dangerous during Trump’s four-year tenure as president. In addition to personal verbal attacks against perceived enemies, Trump aroused supporters with relentless streams of fake conspiracies such as his false accusation that the Democrats stole his November election.
Lawmakers’ hostility has spread among themselves. Numerous Democrats say they are wary of GOP colleagues who have said they have guns in Washington. Republicans have resisted new screening devices installed by House Spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., That lawmakers must pass through when entering the Chamber of the House, where the carrying of firearms is prohibited.
“The enemy is in the House of Representatives,” Pelosi told reporters this week in a chilling description of the internal tensions in Congress. She quoted “members of Congress who want to put weapons on the ground and who threatened other members of Congress with violence”.
In the recent instance of Capitol Hills Personal Hostility, Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., Tweeted Friday that she had moved her office from that of her fellow student Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., “For my team’s safety.” Bush wrote that a maskless Greene and her coworkers “cursed me in a hallway,” but did not say why she felt unsafe.
Greene responded with a tweet of his own saying, “She’s lying to you. She insulted me. “Greene also called Bush, who is black,” the leader of the St. Louis Black Lives Matter terrorist mob who broke into an enclosed neighborhood to threaten the McCloskeys’ lives. “
Last summer, Bush was among the demonstrators Mark and Patricia McCloskey drew guns on in a viral video. She is now one of the most progressive members of Congress and has sponsored a move that could lead to the expulsion of lawmakers who – like Greene – supported Trump’s unjustified efforts to reverse his November election defeat.
Greene has drawn fire from Democrats and some Republicans for previous social media posts reported by various news organizations suggesting support for the killing of Democratic politicians, unsubstantiated QAnon theories, and racist views.
The 535 members of Congress travel frequently between their homes and the capital, and many have said they feel vulnerable in their districts and while traveling. Videos have shown people insulting lawmakers at airports, including Utah Republican Senator Mitt Romney, who criticized Trump.
The January 6th Capitol uprising “reminds us of the grim reality that members of Congress are high-profile officials and therefore face ongoing security threats from the same domestic terrorist groups that attacked the Capitol,” 32 House members, nearly all Democrats. wrote to the leaders of Congress this week. Five people died in the attack, including a Capitol policeman The house charged Trump with incitement to riot.
The letter from the House Legislature said that while 902 threats were investigated against members of Congress in 2016, the number rose to 4,894 in 2018, and rose in 2019, according to Capitol Police.
Limited local police resources and social media littered with personal information and their real-time locations make lawmakers more vulnerable when they are at home, his letter said. Members of the House called for stricter security procedures. Pelosi told reporters that some steps have already been taken and that they will likely seek money to improve security.
Members were told they can use their office expenses to purchase bulletproof vests, several of which have stated they are wearing them. Blodgett’s letter states that they can use these accounts for security for themselves and their offices, and that a Federal Election Commission statement will allow them to use campaign funds on home security systems.
Acting Capitol Police chief Yogananda D. Pittman said this week that “huge improvements” are needed to protect the Capitol and adjacent office buildings, including permanent fences. Since January 6, the Capitol has been surrounded by a high barrier and the area is guarded by National Guard troops.
Many lawmakers have long resisted making the nation’s symbol of democracy look like a beleaguered compound, and leaders have been indulgent about permanent fences.
President Joe Biden is in “close contact” with Pelosi on the security of Congress, said Jen Psaki, White House press secretary.
Trump supporters broke into the U.S. Capitol after a morning speech urging them to go when Congress officially confirmed Joe Biden’s election victory. The riot killed five people and prompted the House to indict him for incitement to riot, which he will face trial in the Senate in February.
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