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October 09, 2020

Chairman Thompson: Planned Attack in Michigan Highlights the Consequences of President Trump’s Dangerous Inaction on Domestic Terrorism

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, released the below statement after militia extremists were arrested in Michigan on domestic terrorism-related charges. The right-wing, anti-government accelerationists wanted to kidnap the Governor of Michigan, overthrow the state government, and start a civil war. 

“It is clear from what we have seen in recent years and from what government officials and experts have repeatedly told us: right-wing domestic terrorism is on the rise and white supremacist extremists are now a top terrorism threat to the homeland,” said Chairman Thompson. “Unfortunately, it is also clear that these groups are often inspired by President Trump’s rhetoric. His repeated refusal to condemn them has only fueled their growth. Our political leaders must never hesitate or equivocate in condemning violence of any kind and President Trump’s pattern of ignoring the threat from those that he perceives to be in his political base has put American lives in danger. The planned actions of the alleged kidnappers are no different than those of ISIS terrorists around the globe.

“Democrats on this Committee have been focused on domestic terrorism for over ten years. It is clear that there is no leadership coming from President Trump. As long as he continues to wink and nod at right-wing extremists, tensions will continue to rise ahead of the November election and the threat of political violence will only escalate. Even social media companies have finally started to get serious about dealing with these groups. Many former counterterrorism officials have also repeatedly condemned this President’s inaction on domestic terrorism. It is well past time for the President to recognize, condemn, and respond to the right-wing extremist threat without hesitation.”

Just last month, the Committee on Homeland Security held a hearing on terrorist threats during which FBI Director Wray testified that “2019 was the deadliest year for domestic extremist violence since the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995” and that the Bureau has “roughly 1,000 domestic terrorism investigations a year. It’s higher than that this year…A good bit north of 1,000 this year.”  In July, the Intelligence and Counterterrorism Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Max Rose (D-NY), held a hearing on militia extremists and their growing threat to Americans' safety, with one terrorism expert warning, “The upcoming presidential election could spark one or more violent events," particularly “single actor and small cell violent acts” and that “the anti-government movement is right-wing” in nature.

Similarly, just this week, the  Department of Homeland Security released its first Homeland Threat Assessment, which implied that President Trump’s words have inspired extremists.  It said, “Some DVEs have heightened their attention to election- or campaign-related activities, candidates’ public statements, and policy issues connected to specific candidates, judging from domestic terrorism plots since 2018 targeting individuals based on their actual or perceived political affiliations.”

Also last week, President Trump directed white supremacist groups to “Stand back and stand by” after he tweeted “Liberate Michigan” earlier this year and said there were “some very fine people on both sides” in 2017. Michigan Governor Whitmer yesterday  highlighted how the President’s words inspire these groups: “Hate groups heard the president’s words not as a rebuke, but as a rallying cry. As a call to action. When our leaders speak, their words matter. They carry weight. When our leaders meet with, encourage, or fraternize with domestic terrorists they legitimize their actions – they are complicit. When they stoke and contribute to hate speech – they are complicit.”

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