tv Justice Dept. Officials Testify on Threat of Domestic Terrorism CSPAN January 12, 2022 11:38pm-1:42am EST
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to learn more about the justice department's investigation into one of the worst attacks in years, the january 6 insurrection on the capital. i would like to start with a video on the aftermath of january 6 and the threat of domestic terrorism in america. >> there are throwing metal poles at us. >> law enforcement injuries.
>> january 6 was a disgrace. there is no question. president trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events. >> violence is never a legitimate form of protest. the president bears a responsibility for wednesday's attack. two a year after january 6, are the guardrails that protect democracy real or illusionary? >> january 6 laid bare the threat of white nationalism. >> january 6 is a symptom of a deeper problem. >> across the country, election officials and election workers, airline flight crews, journalists, u.s. senators and representatives and judges, prosecutors and police officers have been threatened or attacked. >> a charged member of the boogaloo boys. >> fired 13 rounds into the
third precinct building. >> according to an unsought -- an unclassified summary, the two most lethal elements are racially or ethnically motivated violence and militia violent extremists. >> instigating and leaving some of the most pivotal moments of the rush into the historic building check >> in battle gear and a stacked military formation working through the crowd of the capitol steps. >> the department of homeland security in their annual threat assessment in october 2020 declared domestic violence extremism in general and white supremacist extremism to be the most persistent and lethal threat facing the nation. >> meant to be political and ideological actions that bring other activists into the movement. >> it is time to take a hard look at where we are in our resources. >> we can never again allow our democracy to be put into peril.
>> those of us who were here will never forget the horrifying images of january 6 2021. a news any gallows erected on the capital lawn, rioters attacking police officers with flag poles bearing the american flag. a confederate battle flag, confederate battle flag waving in the temple of our democracy. a site unimaginable during the darkest days of the civil war. the insurrection should be a wake-up call, a reminder that america is still confronted with the -- it has taken on a new life and of the 21st century. terror from white supremacists. a list of other extremists who use violence to further their twisted agenda. last march, the fbi director told this committee the threat of domestic terrorism has quote -- is quote a test of sizing around the country and not going
away anytime soon. i need the hours following the insurrection, i was hopeful. when the mob had dispersed and the senate returned to the capital to certify the results of the election, we, republicans and democrats alike, were united. we were determined to show that mob they had lost and democracy had won. all of us were well aware of who was behind the insurrection. as we saw in the video, republican congressional leaders like senator mcconnell joined democrats in knowledge and president trump was practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of that day. days turned into weeks and this solid bipartisan rhetoric was shaken. our efforts to investigate the insurrection and the former president's attempts to overturn the election were stonewalled. last may, senate republicans filibustered a plan to create an independent bipartisan
commission to investigate what happened on january 6 and to make sure it never happened again. a number of elected republicans who either refused to repeater rate the big lie or have outright endorsed is growing. they are playing with fire. by supporting the false narrative the 2020 election was somehow stolen or rigged, they have rationalized the worst assault on our capital since the word of 1812. they are normalizing the use of violence to achieve political goals. the intelligence committee warns us narratives of fraud in the recent general election will almost certainly spur domestic violent extremists to try to engage in violence. congress, this is how democracies die. today, more than half of republican voters believe the insurrectionists were quote protecting democracy.
in a recent study from the university of chicago, they found one in 10 americans believe the use of force is justified to restore donald j. trump to the presidency. one in 10. these radical viewpoints do not appear out of thin air. donald trump continues to spew these divisive, dangerous ideas from his exile in mar-a-lago. his calls have been echoed by a vocal faction of republican lawmakers. lawmakers actively encouraging their supporters to treat little opponents as hostile adversaries. other republican lawmakers have remained silent. last year, a republican congressman tweeted an animated video showing himself murdering one of his democratic colleagues. another house republican has expressed support for quote national divorce. national divorce between red and blue states.
i might remind this congressman the last national divorce, our civil war, cost more american lives than ever -- the any conflict before or since. some may waive this rhetoric off as political bluster or a bad joke about the reality is more troubling. these tacit and even explicit endorsements of violence are taking a tragic toll. over the past two years, our nations public servants have faced a wave of violence. one survey found nearly one in five local elected officials has been threatened with violence because of their work in the 2020 election cycle. we have seen the polling rise in violent outbursts on airplanes, school meetings and any others -- and in other spheres, we have seen violence toward law enforcement officers. don't tell me you stand for law and order and turn your back on the threats law enforcement officers are facing everyday. at the outset of today's
hearing, i would like to request every member of this committee use this hearing to explicitly condemn the use or threat of violence to advance political goals. it is a simple request but sadly a necessary one. this committee should speak with a unified voice in saying violence is unacceptable. this is not an issue of where you stand on the political spectrum. violent extremism exists on both ends and whether an act of violence is being committed by a white supremacist in the capital or a far left extremist at a riot in portland, is inexcusable. we need to understand the nature of the threat. intelligence officials have windows the biggest terrorism threat stems from white supremacist and violent militia extremists. some of whom are working in america to topple our democracy. for them, january 6 was a test run. i the year following -- last
month, one domestic terrorist committed a mass shooting in colorado. the attacker had been on the radar of local law enforcement for years. even listed the names of victims in self published books. no action was taken. he ended up killing five people. before he had a chance to kill more, he wrote police officer came to the rescue. she arrived on the scene and ordered the attacker to drop his weapon. he responded by shooting her in the stomach. while wounded and bleeding on the ground, agent ferris returned fire and brought the attack to an end. officers like agent ferris but their lives on the line every day to defend us. as we saw on january 6 at the capital and the streets of american cities in 2020, they
are too often themselves the target of violent extremism. they cannot take on the biggest threat of our national security alone. they need our help at the federal level analyzing and acting on intelligence of domestic terrorist sources. that is why i propose the domestic terrorism prevention act. it ensures state and local law enforcement have the resources and data to prevent acts of domestic terror and white supremacist violence. make sure that law-enforcement officials have the resources they need. during today's hearings, i hope we will learn what steps the justice department and fbi are taking to keep our communities, our country and officers safe. i hope this committee will be unequivocal in condemning violence wherever it is on the political spectrum. number more cowering before any mob. our democracy is in the crosshairs of domestic terrorism. it is time to take a stand. the only way to prevent a
recurrence of deadly insurrection like january 6 is by joining together in defense of our constitution and the rule of law appeared i will turn to my friend, ranking member chuck grassley for his opening statement. >> thank you very much. a year ago, i gave a speech on the senate floor. in that speech, i asked all of my colleagues to join me in condemning all political violence. that obviously included the terrible attack on the capital but it also referred to nearly 600 riots that came before january 6 violence and i learned something from my colleagues. i have a video i would like to have you watch. >> i want to be clear in how i characterize this pit this was a protest. it is not generally speaking unruly. >> peaceful protest.
assault on the capital rocked the nation. the riots caused terrible damage. he saw in the video $2 million worth. you saw in the video hundreds of people were charged federally. the fbi opened over 500 domestic terrorism investigations over 14,000 were arrested. in just the first few weeks. at least 25 died. 2000 police officers injured. this included well over a hundred officers defending the federal courthouse in portland. this included 60 secret service officers defending the white house. the judicial conference reported 50 federal courthouses were damaged during this time. throughout a time that was
incredibly difficult for our police officers, we had some democrats pile on. they called police things like stormtroopers. to this day, attacks continue on should rumors of the -- the good names of police dealt with an impossible situation in the surge on the portland courthouse. is it any wonder then when it came -- when it came time to secure the capital on january 6, some were too concerned about optics or about the image of national guardsmen at the capital? mayor bowser of d.c. even said when police -- federal police
forces like those that came to defend the portland courthouse, that they would not be welcome here. from the time anti-police riots broke out over 18 months ago, the police have retreated from the streets and the results have been very predictable. beginning june 2020, our country has experienced an unprecedented hike in murders. that spike has continued all the way to the present day. in 2021, more than a dozen cities set all-time homicide records. street crime from assaults to carjacking to also what we call flash mob style smash and grab
robberies have become a way of life in many cities. you saw last night in san jose, california on television as an example. new york mayor eric adams has announced he will revive a plainclothes anti-crime unit to combat the violence. san francisco mayor london breed has declared a state of emergency over crime in her cities pimp miller lite -- in her cities. mayor lightfoot has asked for several resources to help fight crime in chicago. sadly, anti-police sentiment extends to the murder of police. dozens were killed in 2021. fbi analysis showed many of them were targeted because they were simply police officers, not
because of any private contact with an attacker. the federal fraternal order of police, that data shows ambush attacks on officers have more than doubled. the police are not just heroes because of january 6 when they defended us at the capital. these police officers, federal, state, local our heroes all the time. if he we did not treat -- if we do not treat them as heroes, i fear the violent crimes and attacks on police officers will only get worse. it will not get any better. i started by saying i gave a speech a year ago asking my colleagues to join me in condemning all political violence. i heard senator durbin say
exactly that same thing in his opening remarks today. i'm sorry to say the situation has not gotten worse -- the situation has gotten worse since i gave my speech. it has not gotten better. last summer, president biden released a domestic terrorism strategy that made no mention whatsoever of the 2020 riots. though they comprised about a fifth to a quarter of the fbi's current domestic terrorism cases. there was almost no thank you to the senator for mentioning left-wing terrorism. further is the strategy suggested that partisan policies of gun control and teaching critical race theory are part of the solution.
using violent attacks to advance unrelated policy goals is a shameful tactic that undermines what our law enforcement officers are trying to do to stand up to violence in this country. it undermines the nonpartisan indictment. there cannot be exceptions. that means that we have to deal with the 2020 riots and january 6 when we look over fbi domestic terrorism programs. we in congress have an oversight role to perform. this committee is doing that today, and there is room for improvement. needed room for improvement.
director ray, over 10 months ago testified to us that there were weaknesses in the left-wing domestic terrorism program that has prevented the fbi from getting the visibility they needed into the 2020. from that time to now, we received next to no information in response to our inquiries about how the fbi has ensured those deficiencies. the time has come to change that. thank you to mr. chairman and my colleagues. >> thank you. today we welcome assistant general matthew olsen and jill sanborn. they will each have five minutes for opening statements and some rounds of questions where senators will have time as well. i ask remotely that the minstrels of the senator room be
placed to sworn in. please raise your right hand. will you only tell the truth, so help you god? >> i do. >> i do. >> they have answered in the affirmative and we will turn over to the senator. please proceed. >> thank you members of the committee. i appreciate the opportunity to testify today about the work of the department of justice. the muster terrorism is on the rise. the number of fbi investigations over the past two years has more than doubled. communities across the country have been victims of acts of domestic terrorism. in el paso, 23 latinos were killed.
in alexandria, virginia, more than four people at a congressional baseball practice, and others were killed by white supremacists in their church. this marks the one-year anniversary of the attack on the capital on january 6, and the department of justice has taken an unprecedented scope to hold accountable all of those engaged in criminal acts. the attorney general testified last week that more than 725 individuals have been indicted, including those charged with felony. we continue to methodically gather and review the evidence. it has in recent years underscored the threat that
domestic terrorism continues to pose to our citizens, law enforcement officers, public officials, and are democratic institutions. based on the assessment of the intelligence communities, we face threats from domestic violence extremists. those of us -- that includes those who commit violent acts in the united states for social or political goals. we have seen a growing threat from those who are motivated by racial animosity, as well as those who describe anti-government ideologies. at the same time, we remain vigilant of the dynamic threat of international terrorist groups. the attorney general has observed combating the threat of
domestic terrorism has been a core mission of the department of justice. this was founded where than 140 years ago when the renewed department went after the kkk to protect black americans under the constitution. this is one of our top priorities. on the frontline of these efforts are our federal prosecutors. our national security division was created in 2006. in any case, the message to domestic terrorism, we provide support to coordinate those prosecutions. we have a team of
counterterrorism attorneys, all of which are equipped for domestic and international terrorist prosecutions. i have established a domestic terrorism unit to augment our approach. this group is dedicated and focused on domestic terrorism to effectively coordinate it across the department of justice and across the country. this also works with the dod -- doj. similar to our efforts to combat international terrorism, the department has all of the legal tools in our arsenal to prosecute acts of domestic terrorism. we support our state and local
law enforcement. the criminal code does define domestic terrorism with this definition and provides expanded authority, and in all of our efforts to combat domestic terrorism, the justice department is bound why are commitment -- bound by our commitment to protect citizens. we will not hesitate to prosecute those who commit acts of violence in violation of the federal law. i appreciate the opportunity to discuss these issues with you today and answer your questions. >> thank you. ms. sanborn, you may proceed. >> thank you.
i am honored to be here with you today representing the fbi. i began my career as a senate page many years ago. i discussed with you the current domestic threats and our plans to advance our domestic terrorism programs since 2021. i would be remiss to not discuss the january 6 attacks. i know many of you were present in the u.s. capitol and experienced the events of that day firsthand. the fbi investigation of the attack on the capital began immediately and continues to this day. it goes without saying that the threat posed by domestic violence extremists is evolving, but that does not mean we have forgotten about the threat from international domestic terrorists like isis.
preventing all acts of terrorism is the fbi's number one priority. the greatest threat to the united states today remains to be small actors that utilize online and utilize weapons to. attack targets. . this includes domestic violence extremism. in describing the domestic terrorism threat landscape, we use the words violent extremism because the underlying political position and advocacy of those positions are not in and of themselves prohibited by u.s. law. it is important to remember the fbi cannot open an investigation based solely on first amendment
protected activity. it is our position to attack the american people and defend the american constitution. these aspects of our mission are dual and simultaneous. we separate these threats into five broad categories. i'm confining my remarks to the two most prevalent categories, racially motivated extremism, and antigovernment extremism. when evaluating the current domestic terrorism threat, we assess that racially or ethnically motivated extremism advocating for the superior unity -- superiority of the white race and antigovernment extremism present the most lethal threats. racially or ethnically motivated extremists hold -- in 2021, the
mystic violence extremism held four attacks which resulted in the deaths of 13 individuals. there were personalized grievances including anger at the government over covid-19 policies and perceived election fraud. looking forward, we assess violent reactions to sociopolitical events. as we head into 2022, we believe racially motivated and antigovernment extremists will remain the biggest threats.
this prioritization ensures that all fbi offices can incomprehensibly respond to the threat posed by the individuals in 2020 two. we want to ensure the american people that the fbi focuses all of its efforts against the threat of terrorism both international and domestic. we apply the resources and rigor to respond to ever evolving threats, including the taskforces around your states in 2021. when protected free speech turns into criminal threats or actions, the fbi will actively pursue the individual behind them. the fbi is grateful for the
support of all of our partners, including the committee. thank you for inviting me today to be part of this discussion. >> thank you. we each have five minutes to ask questions. i want to start with a question to both of you. it is important if we are going to learn from these hearings and experience that we try to have an open mind. many of us personally witnessed and were victimized by the events of january 6. we may need to take an honest look at what happened that day. the most comprehensive look i have seen that has been published was by professor peyton at the university of chicago. he took a look at the actual people and asked why the people were there at generate sixth and why they were there.
this is not a surprise. the attack, he says, as an act of political violence. the overwhelming reason for action on january 6, going after those who are arrested and taking their testimony, the overwhelming reason was that they believed they were following president trump's orders. second, they had no connection to white nationalist gangs. only one out of 10 could be counted as supporters of these militia groups. 89% had no affiliation. third, the demographic profile of these suspected rioters is different from past. right wing extremism. . the average age was 40. 40% of those arrested are is this owners, ceos, doctors,
lawyers, i.t. specialists. they came from areas that were carried by joe biden in the election, and what is clear that the capital right revealed was a mix of political movement that draws its strength even in places where trump's supporters were a minority. as you are envisioning what needs to be done to keep america safe in the future, what do these conclusions tell you? mr. olson? matthew: thank you very much. what this tells me isn't hearing those statistics -- tells me
from hearing those statistics is that condemning violence as what we saw on january 6 as unacceptable. at the department of justice and in partnership with the fbi, our mission is to investigate and prosecute all of these acts, any violence, any unlawful act. regardless of ideology. >> thank you very much. i am not an expert in this area. the members of the committee have read enough to know how you investigate organizations and try to break them down. it has happened with the ku klux klan and others. the fact with this study is that if you went to the organizations themselves, you will have missed the brunt of the attacks on the
capital. these members were not -- these people were not members of these organizations, and yet they engaged in violence with unprecedented opportunity they had never showed before. as you look forward to trying to keep us going beyond the traditional means of suspects. would you like to respond to that? jill: thank you for the question. two things i would pull out of your comments that are congruent with themes we are seeing is that personalized mobilization is often behind what acts they
are about to undertake. to get ahead of that, one of the things we have done is indicated the mobilization of right-wing people to pay attention to human behavior and become more learned when it looks like someone is mobilizing. we believe that people on the indicators will help us stay ahead of the violent threats that are out there. >> so we believe that these extremist organizations are still dangerous and keeping and i on them are necessary but may not be sufficient. the january 6 writers tells us that the reach of these -- rioters tells us that the reach
of these extremist organizations is wide. mr. olson, your organization has a job of keeping an eye on domestic and international terrorism, so i would like to see the things that your department is doing. i was more surprised to learn that the fbi's counterterrorism division is taking schoolboard cases involving the national security programs and local school board matters has an impact on freedom of speech and petition. the nation's parents are going to the school board. they have asked you to withdraw the memo on schoolboard cases.
today we have received that happening, so ms. garland said that you will be working on schoolboard cases in a press release. that accompanied his memo, what is the division doing with regard to local school boards? and for miss sanborn, is it true that the counterterrorism division is taking schoolboard cases. if it is, will they stop that practice that has an effect on schoolboard meetings? first, mr. olson. matthew: thank you. i ensure you that nothing is interfering or making it more difficult for us to focus on our responsibilities, investigating and prosecuting international
and domestic terrorism. that remains the top priority for the department of justice and we remain committed to that priority. in the memo, it was indicated there was an increase in domestic violence, individuals and other public officials and this is a serious concern. the national security division is playing an advisory role and supporting the work of the department, making sure that we are there to support the rest of the department. it is not a particular focus for the national security division. it is an important role, however, for the department of justice as a whole run by the
civil rights division. >>ms. sanborn? >> i would note that this is not a particular focus for the counterterrorism division and nothing has changed with our policies or how we go about the cases. something would have to rise to either be an allegation of violating federal law or having already violated federal law for the fbi to be involved. we are taking administrative processes to identify the trend, but it would have to be a violation of federal law for us to be involved. >> your assistant director of this division during the 2020 riots. i understand this was a
difficult time for the fbi. i heard it may have been -- every post at the fbi field office were at the same time, every day there were reports of riots or cases to be opened. domestic terrorism agents in portland terrains in the violence. the fbi had opened more than 500 domestic terrorism investigations as a result of the 2020 riots. those where where the ideology could be identified. the fbi told us then that they were still trying to hold other subjects accountable for acts
during the summer riots and the number of domestic terrorism investigations opened as a result of the 2020 riots. my second question is, it is fair to say the fbi was surprised by a lot of the riots that happened in 2020 and the capitol riot as well on january 6. how has the fbi and -- increased its visibility in improvements to track extremists? [indiscernible] jill: thank you, sir. i appreciate the opportunity to talk about the 2020 violence that we observed, and it is hard to understand the aggregate.
we have opened more than 800 cases, so more in when you were last briefed on that. we are still making profit -- progress on those cases. to the second part of your question, something we are asking ourselves to do better as a result of january 6 is how do we collect better information? pushing more human sources and etc.. previously, you did not want an analyst with more intel, so we are doing a better job of sharing information quickly and as broadly as possible. that is another area we are trying to improve. >> thank you. senator grassley? >> thank you, mr. chairman. isn't -- it is important for us
to be clear about what happened on january 6, which was an attack on the capital in order to overturn the election, but many continue to downplay what happened on that day. many claimant was a day of protesting -- claim it was a day of protesting, and one person compared it to a normal tour visitist. federal criminal law defines the mystic terrorism as violent criminal acts stemming from domestic influences, such as those lyrical, religious, racial, or environmental. based on that definition, when a mob of armed rioters use of
force in an attempt to overthrow the united states government, that is domestic terrorism. is what happened on generate six -- january 6 domestic terrorism? mr. olson? matthew: the department of justice and the fbi have been clear that the events of january 6 have been investigated as acts of domestic terrorism. you quoted the federal code of the definition, which involves any acts that are a violation of criminal law and are intended to influence the policy of a government through coercion. the january 6 events are generally being investigated as acts of direct -- mastic
terrorism. any particular case would be dependent, and that is ongoing in our investigations. >> that is very critical because we are not talking about people protesting. they -- there are violent acts being committed. isn't that right? >> the focus is on acts of violence or other acts that violate criminal law, not peaceful protests, not assembling, not free speech, not any of the other types of activity that are protected under the constitution of the first amendment. >> we want to focus on the actual criminal acts occurring.
there is a tendency to mix those up, those that are touring the capital or just gathering. it is not what was happening on january 6. now that you have acknowledged that these were -- what we were witnessing was domestic tourism -- terrorism on january 6, i would like to understand the department's approach to prosecuting the perpetuators. my understanding is that prosecutors have not been pushing for the sentencing available for acts of mastic terrorism -- domestic terrorism. do the acts of the january 6 insurrection classify as domestic terrorism? >> the attorney general last
week talked about this complexity of the january 6 investigations, talking about more than 700 individuals who have been arrested and more than 320 five individuals charged with felony. each case will depend on the specific factors -- >> i am running out of time here, so i understand it depends on the actual ask the individual committed, but that individual committed a crime such as attacking a police officer. with that person be subjected to enhanced sentencing? >> it depends on the facts and circumstances of the case. >> is that what the department will pursue? enhanced sentencing?
>> the department has pursued enhanced sentencing in some cases over the past years. >> one more question. as you proceed with the trials and have already engaged in settlements with a number of them, could we see the potential for trials happening where there would be enhanced sentencing pursued by the department? >> again, it depends on the facts of the case. >> i think the answer to that is yes. thank you. >> thank you. do you have the resources, the people and money you need, to protect the -- ? >> from my vantage point, we
need to carry out our priority mission. there are a number of people around the country that have the support they need. >> do you need any more money or changes in the law? >> i do not have any request for more money or more authority. >> the vice president equated january 6 with pearl harbor and 9/11. do you agree with that? >> lets me begin by saying that it was threatening to be on capitol hill on generate six, but i am reluctant to compare it with any prior events. >> the courthouse was attacked
100 nights in a row. would you consider those people as domestic terrorists? >> i do not have any information about whether any particular case -- >> senator said that people used whatever purpose to attack the courthouse 100 nights in a row. how many people have been charged? >> i defer to ms. sanborn. >> do you know? >> i do not have portland specifically in front of me. >> here's my point. january 6 was a bad day.
i encourage you to have the full force of those who attacked the capital. but as those you can see behind me, there are those who are trying to kill police officers. that is what gets me more than anything else. i hope people are brought to justice, but this is a two way street. the world in which we live in, all of that can withstand the takeover of afghanistan by the taliban. does that pose additional security threats to our homeland? >> if i may broaden my answer a bit, we continue to be concerned about it.
[indiscernible] >> here's my question. the country is now under the control of the taliban. >> we continue to see -- we do continue that concern. >> what capability do we have available to us to combat terrorism activity on the ground in afghanistan after the collapse? >> this would not be appropriate for me to go into particulars. what i would say is that -- >> you cannot tell this committee that the resources we have available have been lost because of the taliban takeover? >> i would not like to
characterize our intelligence capabilities. >> what about the u.s. southern border? >> three years ago, i did go to the southern border. >> how many people have come across the border from special interest countries? >> i do not have that particular information. >> how many people have come across the border in the past years from special interest countries? >> we do not have that data. >> have you been to the border? >> not in a long time, sir. >> i appreciate your service, but we have dozens of people on the terrorist watch list that have come across the border. if you need more resources, you will get it from me, but if i
were you, i would go to the border and check out the border. the broken southern border is going to be an entryway to international terrorists who are going to come here and kill americans if we do not change the policy. i would urge you to go to the border, get a handle at what is happening there, understand the relationship between those who take over the taliban in afghanistan and the opportunity for more terrorism that is coming our way through the border. i am surprised you have not done that. thank you. >> thank you to chairman durbin and our witnesses today. we are here to have a hearing about generate six -- january 6 and domestic terrorism. we are gathered because last week we commemorated the anniversary of one of the darkest days in modern american
history. on january 6, i want to repeat today how grateful i am for law enforcement officers and members of the national guard and others who protected who work and serve in the capital. the angry mob that broke into and assaulted the capital, assaulted more than 140 law enforcement officers during that day, during that insurrection, there were five officers who lost their lives as a result of that day. they and their families remain in my prayers. those officers did not come to work that day as republicans or democrats, it simply as americans responsible to keep all of us and our democracy safe. they did their job so later that
night the senate could convene and certify the results of the 2020 election. we owe it to those officers and their families and our american public to ensure that every extremist who committed an act of politically motivated violence that day is prosecuted. we owe it to them to ensure that we all learn the failings and challenges of law enforcement, resources and planning, that led to the events of january 6 we lead -- and we owe it to them to protect them from the face of domestic violence extremism. i serve on the foreign relations committee in the last year where i met with more than a dozen countries in the world. these are nations that have long
looked to us as a model. i have engaged with leaders firsthand on how the visible symbol of the storming of our capital on january 6 made foreign leaders doubt the authority of our democracy. it was a humiliating sign of weakness and our allies have seen it as a frame of our society and democratic system. it is important for every senator to join our senator -- chairman today and oppose the violence used to advance political goals. today is an important step to moving forward and strengthening our democracy. mr. olson, i was encouraged to hear your testimony about establishing a new unit that will combat the mystic
terrorism. -- domestic terrorism. whether espionage, cyber threats, would you agree that the violence we saw on our capital has undermined our standing abroad? >> i would say that what happened on january 6 poses challenges in terms of status of democracy across the country. i had that conversation with foreign leaders in a national security state. how we responded to it and how we address mustard terrorism -- domestic terrorism, is an example to the rest of the world. >> you agree that a failure to adequately respond to that with
a fair prosecution, that would undermine and weaken our standing in the world? >> the world is watching how we respond to this and it can affect our standing in the world. >> ms. sanborn, one last question. it is concerning to me that there are some of my colleagues in this task force as well as those in the senate that the mob did not include domestic terrorists. there were more than 75 individuals who charged with dangerous weapons or seriously harmed police officers. the 140 officers assaulted included capitol police department members.
these are police -- this sits within the definition of violent extremism, doesn't it? >> yes, sir. >> thank you. i am out of time. i am hopeful that all of us can put aside rhetoric and to speak with one voice to condemn politically motivated violence and threats of violence going forth. thank you. >> mr. olson, i would like to clarify, has anyone been charged with insurrection following january 6? >> i am not aware that anyone has been charged with that. i am not aware of that and it would be inappropriate for me to
-- investigation at this point, but i am not aware of that. >> nobody has been charged with that, but they have been charged with many things. i signed onto a letter with a bunch of my colleagues, a letter led by senator john, and the purpose of this letter was to ask the prosecution of individuals alleged to have committed crimes related to the 2020 riots and those related to the crimes on january 6. despite my efforts to work with the department of narrow the scope, we did not receive any answer until october 22. this was over four and a half months since we sent the letter.
you would think that with that amount of time, you would submit that response that was more thorough, but to my astonishment the letter failed to answer a single question we ask. it was a statement of platitudes and about general policies. there was not one answer to a single one of our questions. a bit troubling when you have got members of the united states senate charged with an oversight responsibility over the department of justice have a four month delay on responses. i have questions about that letter and i'm happy to receive an answer here underwrote -- under oath.
did federal enforcement use geo-data to track what happened in the spring of 2020? >> i do not have any information about that question that can be responded. >> i would like to receive a response from either one of you. >> i will not go into specifics on specific cases. i will say we often use geo-data in our investigations as a result of the process of investigating terror. >> if so, from which locations and riots, and what about january 6? i would like to know the number of times and locations. >> i do not have that in front
of me and -- but i am happy to take your questions and see what we can do to be responsive. >> how many individuals who may have committed crimes associated with the riots in the spring and summer of 2020 were either arrested by law enforcement and swat teams, or had search warrants through those? >> i do not have the particular numbers of arrests or the specific nature of the plans that might have been around that in front of me. >> i would also like to know how many are alleged to have been
witnesses to what happened on january 6 or people who had been arrested or had used raids or swat teams? can you tell me an approximate number? the number of those who were prosecuted or arrested in connection with the spring of 2020? >> i do not have either of those in front of me and i would like to explain that the mechanics going behind that is specific to each individual case under the threat they may pose, but i do not have the number or comparison with me at this time. >> do you have any way of telling me how many of these individuals were connected --
who were connected with these rights were placed in solitary confinement? >> i do not have that and i am not sure that the fbi would have that data. i am not sure we would have that and we would figure out how to direct you to the right department. >> do you have any idea how many of these individuals -- the individuals connected with the spring and summer of 2020? >> i do not have that specific information. some of those cases are still ongoing. as are the january 6 cases. i do not have the information on how many cases have been resolved. >> i'm going to ask the two of you to answer these questions.
i understand that you have got big jobs to do, but i do not want four and a half months to last again, and i certainly do not want a response that is unresponsive. thank you. >> thank you and thank you for having this hearing which gives me the opportunity to make a fundamental statement which i joined my colleagues in. violence of any kind is unacceptable, any kind of physical coercion or violence should be condemned no matter who does it or what the purpose is politically. i hope that we share that view. let me ask you about social media platforms that promote the
organizations of the stop to steal group and other social media platforms that have played a significant role in the organization promotion of those groups that disrupted and organize the assault on the capital. those like the boogaloo boys and the -- division which is responsible for the hate group. facebook promised to ban those troops. instead, the company failed to recognize the magnitude of the threat and take appropriate action to take down those stop the steal groups that incited, encouraged, and organized the events that occurred on january 6.
this problem remains. last week, the tech transparency project released a report showing that facebook continues to host and promote violent extremists and militia organizations that were involved in the capital attacks. facebook has allowed militias to fund raise and place recruitment ads that say, we are prepared for -- social media platforms have failed to do as much as they should do to stop groups and individuals that promote violence. >> i can begin and defer to my
colleague. you are fully aware of this. spouting hateful ideology is protected by the first amendment, and the department does not investigate anyone for protected activity. the intelligence community has assessed that social media has increased the way that information is spread and disseminated. the accessibility of violent extremist conduct and has also facilitated the dissemination of information among extremist supporters. social media identifies as the source of the problem to how some of this information is
spread. it is important that the national strategy we issued earlier is clear on this point that it is critical to address the information environment. we need to work with the government and the private sector, social media platforms, to help ensure that upper steps are taken -- proper steps are taken. >> law enforcement officials said that social media platforms were harder to track. you do not need them to be on social media for you to track them my correct -- them, correct? >> there are multiple ways to collect information on those who
are involved with violent extremist activities. >> some of the targets, not in the capital, but on the local and state level, do you have under investigation those kinds of beds of violence -- threat? >> it would not be appropriate to talk about any particular case. the national department is not involved in those types of investigations. >> why not? >> the only reason where we might get involved is where the particular threat might rise to the level of a national security threat.
if it was enough to rise to the level of domestic terrorism. i have not seen that. the other way it gets involved is if -- as i understand, the point of the attorney's mo -- memo is to protect the safety of public officials. >> why has the up department of justice -- the department of justice not stopped enhanced penalty -- sot enhanced penalty in the cases of january 6 based on terrorism?
why has the department of justice not used the statute that is clearly domestic and international terrorism? >> again, it is my understanding, i am not going to talk about any particular investigation. in the context of the investigations, each case depends on the specific circumstances of that case. if the attorney general describes that, all cases are being built from the ground up, from those who are at the lower end of culpability, so as a general matter, that is where we are in the investigations. whether it might be an act of
terrorism that files in future cases is an act to be seen. >> none of these cases has involved a request for enhanced penalties based on involving terrorism. we would like to know the answer to that question. i am out of time, but if you could answer it i would appreciate it. >> thank you. senator cruz. >> how many people have been charged with crimes of violence on january 6? >> i am not sure exactly how many have been charged. >> how many have been charged with nonviolent crimes? >> i do not have the number of people charged weather at the state or federal level. >> how many people are currently incarcerated regarding the events of january 6? >> i do not know --
>> i am limited on time. how many people have been placed in solitary confinement concerning the events of january 6? >> i do not know. >> senator lincoln asked you about this back in june 2021. i sent a letter to the department of justice asking about this and the process of prosecutions. during 2020, black lives matter and nt for there were over 170 police officers injured. how many people have been charged with crimes of violence during those riots? >> i do not have information -- i would say hundreds of people have been charged. >> you would say, but you do not know.
when we ask you why the biden department of justice has different standards going after january 6, targeting people that have committed crimes of violence, but also targeting a lot of nonviolentwe asked why 't target the writers and terrorists who firebombed cities across this country. the answer from the department of justice was shameful. you said, the department is dedicating resources commensurate with the significance of these events. i guess significance means the a political benefit to the biden white house. there are a great many americans who are deeply concerned about the politicization of the department of justice under president joe biden. it has been 218 days since we sent you that letter.
doj refused to answer the letter. when senator lee and i ask you about it, your answer to every damn question is i don't know. you may believe that the department of justice you are unaccountable to the american people, but that is not the case. the widely disparate standards are unacceptable. ms. sanborn, i want to turn to the fbi. how many fbi agents or confidential informants actively participated in the events of january 6? ms. sanborn: i'm sure you can appreciate i can't go into the specifics -- sen. cruz: did any fbi agents or confidential informants actively participate, yes or no? ms. sanborn: i cannot answer that. sen. cruz: did any fbi agent or confidential informants commit crimes of violence?
ms. sanborn: i can't answer that. sen. cruz: did any fbi agent or informants encourage or incite crimes of violence on january 6? ms. sanborn: i can't answer that. sen. cruz: who is -- ms. sanborn: i am aware of the individual. i don't have these specific background on him. sen. cruz: a lot of people are very concerned about him. on the night of january 6, he wandered around a crowd that had gathered and there is video of him chanting, tomorrow we need to get into the capitol. this was strange behavior, so strange that the crowd began chanting fed, fed, fed. was he a fed? ms. sanborn: sir, i cannot answer that question. sen. cruz: the next day on
january 6, mr. s is seen whispering to a person and five seconds later, that same person begins to forcibly tear down the barricades. did he urge them to tear down the barricades? ms. sanborn: sir, similar to the other answers, i cannot answer that. sen. cruz: shortly thereafter, the fbi put out a public post seeking information on individuals connected with violent crimes on january 6. among those individuals is mr. s. the fbi publicly asked for information, offering cash rewards for information leading to the arrest. this was posted and
a later, magically, mr. epps
disappeared from the public posting. according to public records, he has not been charged with anything. no one has explained why a person videoed urging people to the capitol, a person whose conduct was so
suspect the crowd believes he was a fed, would magically disappear from the people the fbi were looking at. a lot of americans are concerned that the federal government deliberately encouraged illegal and violent conduct on february 6. my question to you -- this is not an ordinary law enforcement question, this is about public accountability -- did federal agents or those in the service of federal agents encourage violent or criminal conduct on january 6? ms. sanborn: not to my knowledge, sir. sen. cruz: thank you. >> senator lahey.
-- leahy. sen. leahy: i'm sure the witnesses can hear me well enough. i will not have to shout. sometimes there are two sides to a story, but that does not hold true with january 6 and the threat of domestic terrorism we face today. the attack was perpetrated by domestic violent extremists, white supremacists, and antigovernment ideology. that is a fact. those who promote the same dangerous ideologies are the most lethal threats we face as a country and democracy today. as a former prosecutor, i feel violent extremism in any form is unacceptable and i prosecuted it that way. downplay distracts from the most clear and present danger facing
all americans and creates a real danger to the united states. last week -- we have to come together as members of the senate and face reality. last week i asked the u.s. capitol police chief what would happen if the capitol police chief -- police were helped to last year's funding levels and did not receive increased funding as part of this clear 2022. he told me it would undermine the ability of the capitol police to protect the capitol. addressing domestic terrorism is a major focus of president biden's justice department in the fy 2022 budget request. the senate appropriations committee has released a bill that would dramatically increase
that funding to respond to the dangers. i've asked this question -- i would ask this question. mr. olsen, if congress fails to enact these funding increases, how would it impact the department's ability to comprehensively respond to domestic terrorism threats we face? mr. olsen: thank you, senator leahy. i know the department of justice and administration has submitted a budget request asking for additional resources. those resources are being requested because we view those as essential to being able to carry out our mission. i refer you to the submissions from the justice department and the president on our budget request. sen. leahy: thank you. ms. sanborn, it's good to see you again.
i have been here long enough to remember when you were a senate page and i appreciate the things you have accomplished since then. can you answer the same question i asked mr. olsen about these funding increases from the fbi's perspective? ms. sanborn: yes, i am aware we have requested a budget enhancement. right now we use the resources we have, but as alluded to by mr. olsen, we have requested enhancement for domestic violence extremism. sen. leahy: your testimony discussed the concrete steps the justice department -- i address this first to mr. olsen and then ms. sanborn. talk about the concrete steps the justice department has taken to implement a national strategy
for countering domestic terrorism. one critical pillar involves confronting long-term contributors to domestic terrorism, finding ways to counter the influence of dangerous conspiracy theories online, and setting a tone from the highest rank of government. we know domestic violence extremists pay attention to the rhetoric of political leaders. that includes the rhetoric calling the january 6 rioters political prisoners, which sends a signal they did nothing illegal. that frightens me. how does misleading political rhetoric and misinformation impact the thinking and actions of domestic violent extremists? does it impact recruitment and mobilization by these activists? that is my final question. mr. olsen: there is no doubt
misinformation, disinformation, false narratives are available online to violent extremists, whether that is domestic or those influenced by international terrorist groups. the internet and social media can be an accelerant to an individual movement, from simply being susceptible to those messages to being radicalized and eventually mobilized to violence. we have seen the same pattern in international terrorism when it comes to isis as we have seen in domestic violence extremists with regards to domestic political and social influences. it is a significant problem. sen. leahy: ms. sanborn? ms. sanborn: i would agree with that. bottom line is, violent
extremists material on the internet reaches those vulnerable to recruitment, so we are concerned with that. on the misinformation, we know adversaries would do whatever they could with disinformation to so discourse. >> senator cotton? sen. cotton: on july 20 8, 2020, mr. olsen, you signed a public letter attacking the trump administration for using department of homeland security officers to help protect the federal courthouse in portland from violent rioters. the letter stated, plainclothes officers should be used only in limited capacities and clearly identified circumstances. crowd control is not among those circumstances. on january 6, 2021, did the department of justice or fbi have any plainclothes officers among the crowd at the capitol?
mr. olsen: i am not aware of whether there were plainclothes officers among the crowd at the capitol on january 6. sen. leahy: did any plainclothes officers entered the capitol on january 6? mr. olsen: i don't know the answer to that. sen. cotton: your answers to many questions today are disappointing because they boiled down to, i don't know. did you prepare for this hearing? did you know this hearing was happening before this morning? mr. olsen: the direct answer is yes, i prepared extensively. many of the questions are specific facts that i don't have -- one of the most important points i would emphasize as a general
matter, it is not appropriate to comment on ongoing investigations. sen. cotton: i didn't ask about an ongoing investigation. my binder says the title of this hearing is the domestic terrorism threat one year after january 6. the attorney general has said this is the highest priority. you are testifying at this hearing and can't answer questions about how many people have been charged from events arising from january 6? would you go into a briefing with the attorney general and not be able to answer such basic questions? mr. olsen: over 700 people have been charged in connection with january 6. about 325 charged with serious felonies. sen. cotton: 10 minutes ago senator cruz ask you this series of questions and you did not have the answer for how many people had been charged with violent or nonviolent offenses.
have you been given that answer in the last 10 minutes? mr. olsen: i'm sorry i misunderstood, but i believe senator cruz was asking about other events, not january 6 events. sen. cotton: let's turn to another issue that came up earlier today ray epps. mr. epps was caught on video during the riots several times seeming to encourage people to enter the capitol to break down police barriers. video from the national mall shows him doing the same thing. video from the national mall -- from the night before shows him encouraging people to enter the capital. he didn't exactly go underground. he gave an interview to local media. he was on the capital right most wanted page just day after january 6. he was one of the first suspects added to that page.
it does not appear he has been arrested or charged. in july without explanation he was removed from the most wanted page. who is ray epps and why was he removed from the most wanted list? mr. olsen: i don't have any information about that individual and i would defer to ms. sanborn. sen. cotton: this gets back to what i meant earlier, asking if you prepared. you are the assistant attorney general for national security. you run the national security division. the department has said these prosecutions are one of their highest priorities. this man was on the most wanted page for six months. do you really expect us to believe you have never heard the name ray epps, you don't know anything about him? mr. olsen: i simply don't have any information at all about that individual.
sen. cotton: what other suspects on the most wanted page do you know nothing about? mr. olsen: senator -- sen. cotton: can you name anyone else on the department of justice's most wanted page? mr. olsen: i'm sorry, i didn't hear. sen. cotton: can you name anyone else on the department of justice's most wanted page from the january 6 riots? mr. olsen: i am not familiar with the most wanted page. sen. cotton: i guess we have to seek our answers elsewhere. this has not been a stellar performance today. >> senator whitehouse, are you online? please proceed. sen. whitehouse: mr. olsen, as a legal matter, are violent acts and threats of violence protected by the first amendment? mr. olsen: no, violent acts and
threats of violence are not protected. sen. whitehouse: are they crimes, sometimes federal crimes? mr. olsen: they can be both state and federal crimes. sen. whitehouse: if violence or threats of violence occur at a school board meeting, is there any difference from other locations? mr. olsen: not from the perspective of whether the acts would be considered crimes under state or federal law. sen. whitehouse: it is the conduct itself, not the location of the conduct, that determines the offense. mr. olsen: that's correct as a general matter. sen. whitehouse: ms. sanborn, how long has the fbi coordinated with local communities regarding terrorism threats? ms. sanborn: i don't have the specifics for you, but the jc ps
was stood up in 1980, so we have been partners for years. sen. whitehouse: that includes domestic terrorism threats? ms. sanborn: absolutely. jc ps was created out of a domestic terrorism threat we were dealing with. sen. whitehouse: all 94 u.s. attorneys offices were tasked with setting up a local group together situational awareness regarding terrorist threats, correct? years ago. ms. sanborn: my understanding, yes. i defer to mr. olsen to confirm whether i am correct. sen. whitehouse: tell me what predication is required to open an investigation of a domestic organization as a domestic terrorist group.
ms. sanborn: we do not open cases on organizations. we open cases on individuals. obviously we would build out if they were conspiring with others as we went about our investigation, but we do not open cases on domestic groups. sen. whitehouse: if you wanted to send a confidential informant or undercover fbi agent into a domestic terrorist organization, you would not be able to proceed unless you had specific evidence giving you predication as to specific individuals in that organization? ms. sanborn: correct, and i would add the bottom line is we have to have an authorized purpose to seek the data we are seeking to collect, and that stems from being tied to
allegations of a federal crime or interest of national security. sen. whitehouse: mr. olsen, with respect to the january 6 assault , will be department of justice follow the evidence upstream to funders, organizers, and instigators not present at the capital assault -- the capitol assault if justified? or does the department of justice have any policy of reticence not to follow the evidence regarding upstream funders, organizers? mr. olsen: as the attorney general discussed last week, the department will follow the evidence wherever it leads, consistent with the direction i have in my role in the national security division. sen. whitehouse: it is not
uncommon in looking at an organized or multi-defendant event for the department to be in with prosecutions -- to begin with prosecutions, as attorney general garland started, with low level people, whether it is dealers in a narcotics investigation, or riders and protesters in the january 6 assault, correct? mr. olsen: correct. i began my career as a prosecutor in washington, d.c. and that is the standard approach taken in all matter of large conspiracy cases. sen. whitehouse: it is customary to do that first to obtain further evidence against upstream organizers or kingpins, correct? mr. olsen: correct. that work can be painstaking and requires patience and hard work to follow the information
wherever it goes. sen. whitehouse: the department is following that standard with regard to the january 6 investigation? mr. olsen: that's correct. sen. whitehouse: thanks very much. my time is up. >> there was reference in this hearing from senator cruz and senator cotton about an individual named ray epps. i had never heard the name before. my staff has given me an article from political act, which i am going to ask for unanimous consent to enter into the record. it notes the individual and the circumstances of his being in washington on january 6 was raised by something known as revolver news, a website run by a former trump white house speechwriter named darren beatty , who was dismissed from the white house after appearing on a panel with white nationalists. fox news host tucker carlsen
amplified his claim in a conspiratorial documentary series that attempted to recast the events of january 6. i know nothing further. i am asking this to be entered into the record because it apparently has caught the attention of senator cruz and senator cowan. senator hawley is recognized. sep. hawley: mr. olsen, how many personnel in your national security division are working on cases or issues surrounding january 6? mr. olsen: that investigation is being led by the u.s. attorney's office in washington, d.c. they have dozens of individuals, including prosecutors from around the country to support that investigation. we have a handful of prosecutors who are working to support the investigation. sen. hawley: but from your
division, how many? none? mr. olsen: from my division, at least three or four who have been working, if not full-time, part-time on that case. sen. hawley: how many personnel are working on issues pertaining to attorney general garland's memorandum entitled, partnership among state and territorial law enforcement to address threats against school board members, teachers, and staff? sen. hawley: with regard to that memo and that work, the national security division plays an informal advisory role. there is no one dedicated to that on a full-time or even part-time basis. i think we are available to consult, if the facts warrant that level of consultation. sen. hawley: what have you done to date? this is the school board memo, for those who are following along. what has your division done to date with regard to that memorandum and the department's
effort to track parents in school board meetings? mr. olsen: with regard to the school board memo, which i understand is an effort to protect school board members and teachers from acts or threats of violence, but from the perspective of the national security division, i don't think we have had any particular role or done anything in particular with regard to that effort. sen. hawley: you are not coordinating with local officials? mr. olsen: i am not aware the national security division has played any role in any matter up to this date. i have been in the role for two and a half months but have not heard of anyone in my division having any role. sen. hawley: you responded to questions from senator whitehouse about parents at school board meetings. the just was, it doesn't really matter if it is a school board meeting or elsewhere. if you commit terrorism
anywhere, it is terrorism. is it your view that parents speaking at school board meetings can be or are domestic terrorists? mr. olsen: absolutely not. my understanding of the attorney general's memo is it is not about people speaking out at school boards, not about people voicing opinions, exercising first amendment rights, it is about protecting, whether it is teachers, law enforcement officers, or other public officials, from threats of violence. my understanding of senator whitehouse's question was about the location of federal crimes. sen. hawley: are department of justice officials and prosecutors drawing up lists of crimes for which parents can be prosecuted regarding their participation in school board meetings? mr. olsen: i am not aware that has ever happened. sen. hawley: really? did you watch the attorney
general's testimony before this committee when we read into the record a list of crimes that department of justice prosecutors employees had sent to local officials talking about crimes parents could potentially be charged with? a list which, by the way, was incorrect. crimes that don't exist but had been sent to local partners in at least one state. are you familiar with his testimony in that regard? mr. olsen: i am generally familiar with the attorney general's testimony. my understanding of his testimony and his direction for the department is to take the necessary steps we can take, whether it is enforcing federal law or working with state and local partners to protect individuals who both are serving in public service roles such as school board members and teachers and to protect first amendment rights of teachers who
attend or speak at school board or other public meetings. sen. hawley: here is my issue with that. what we have found consistently out of the department of justice is we can't get straight answers to why your division would be involved at all with regard to school board meetings, why the attorney general told us you wouldn't be whatsoever. it appears you have been. we were told parents would not be charged with federal crimes but we know prosecutors have drawn up lists of federal crimes and disseminated them to local partners. the attorney general told us that had not happened. we know from whistleblowers that it has. we can't get a straight answer as to why parents would ever be regarded as domestic terrorists. i have other questions, but my time has expired so i will give those to you for the record. and i will have additional questions regarding your division's involvement with what the attorney general is doing
with regard to school boards. sen. durbin: i believe senator booker is virtually available. sen. booker: yes, mr. chairman. first, i think your call to members on both sides of this committee is important, unfortunately so in terms of being necessary to say. i joined the senator in condemning all types of political violence in our country. we are a nation that must firmly adhere to the ideals of nonviolence and condemn those actors and they should be held accountable when it does happen. i am grateful for you calling on all of us to affirm that point. i want to start by talking about firearms on january 6. extensive video and photographic evidence shows rioters repeatedly acted rightly --
acted by the late toward police officers -- acted violently toward police officers. they carried a variety of weapons, including chemical spray, fire extinguishers, bats, stun guns, firecrackers, stolen police gear, and more. a pipe bomb was discovered next to the democratic national committee headquarters and it has been reported the vice president elect was inside the building at the time. the justice department's charges indicate that dozens of individuals who assaulted our democracy were carrying weapons of some kind. the writers endured 140 officers, some of whom are still dealing with the impact of those injuries and potentially permanent damage to their bodies. one of the officers, a new jersey and, brian sicknick, died from the injuries.
ms. sanborn, i understand you testified that the fbi did not recover any firearms. however, you stated you were not aware whether the u.s. capitol police or the d.c. police confiscated any guns. based on a provisional review of the justice department filings, it appears at least five individuals have been charged with firearm offenses. these include people who carried a gun onto the capitol grounds and others who brought a gun with them to washington. i would like to offer you the opportunity to update your prior testimony. are you aware of how many firearms were confiscated in relation to january 6 in total, or how many people we know now have had actual firearms? can you describe the nature of the firearm charges the justice department has filed so far? ms. sanborn: i will start and
probably deferred to mr. olsen on quote-unquote the charges. as i sit here today, i think this is important because as we investigate, facts change. i am aware of five individuals who had a charge related to firearms, one of which was arrested by our state and local partners, not within the restricted area, on january 6. one other individual was arrested by state and local partners in the restricted area on the day of. as a result of our investigation, we uncovered after the fact that three others possibly had been in the restricted area with a firearm, so we had evidence they came in the restricted area and had a weapon. i am aware of all five of those and hope that helps clarify. as we follow the facts, some of
that could change. sen. booker: does mr. olsen want to add anything to that? mr. olsen: i am aware of the information you cited about how those involved in the attack on the capitol did bring other weapons, in addition to firearms, bats, pepper spray, and the like. just a general point that one aspect of international terrorism is to take all approaches. we look at all the available federal charges that would be supported by the evidence. sen. booker: quickly, in your written testimony you say that we face obvious domestic violence extremists, some of whom are motivated by racial animus, religiously so. i am concerned about a dangerous
subset of sheriffs who call themselves constitutional sheriffs, law enforcement officials who claim to be the alternate arbiters of the law in their given county. and in their view, that power supersedes that of other elected officials. this is deeply alarming and has white supremacist roots and clear antigovernment underpinnings. the founder of the constitutional sheriffs and peace officers association, who for a while was a board member of a far right extremist group the oath keepers, called the federal government the greatest threat we face today. quickly, what kind of threat to these individuals who call themselves constitutional sheriffs really pose to our system of government? when looking at the threats from domestic violence extremists, does the department of justice see movements like constitutional sheriffs playing
a key role in the radicalization of those who sympathize with intergovernmental views? mr. olsen: i am familiar with that group from public reporting. i would say as a general matter what we know is there has been, particularly over the last year, a significant rise in the threat from antigovernment, anti-authority violent extremists, focused on action and violence, not speech, not ideology. we have seen a rise in that type of violent extremism over the past year, so it is an area we are focused on along with our partners at the fbi. sen. booker: a rise is a relative term. what kind of increase? mr. olsen: i don't have specifics on numbers of cases, but it was a marked increase.
in my conversations with ms. sanborn in preparation for this hearing, this has been reinforced, this is a threat that has been elevated over the past year. sen. durbin: i want to thank our witnesses, mr. olsen and ms. sanborn, for appearing before the committee to testify. i would like to make one or two comments. first i would like to address this issue of school board activity. i believe mr. olsen was explicit. i invite him to restate if necessary that the ordinary appearance before a school board in a peaceful manner expressing your point of view is not a crime by state or federal standards. in many instances, if not all, it is protected speech. is that your testimony, mr. olsen? mr. olsen: it is. i don't know if i can be any clearer. the attorney general said spirited debate about policy
matters is protected by the constitution. it is not the focus of this effort. this effort is focused on protecting public service from acts and threats of violence. sen. durbin: there are more and more public servants, even at the congressional level, who are being threatened in ways they have never seen before. many of them, sadly, have reached a point where they walked away from public service rather than endanger themselves or their families. that is a reality. i don't care whether it is a member of a school board, city council, or congress -- whoever it may be, including law enforcement officials, deserve our best efforts to keep them safe. i hope the department of justice when it reaches the appropriate level will engage in that activity. i think that is what the attorney general is setting out to do. i might also add, i personally
know of no defense to domestic terrorism if you are a parent of a child in school. that does not absolve you of your responsibility to be nonviolent. i am not going to ask you to comment on that. that is my own personal point of view, but that's how i feel. when i listen to comments about inhibiting parents from testifying at school boards, i don't see that all -- that at all in the policies of the administration. it is only when it crosses the unacceptable buying of violence that it should be the province of the federal government to interject itself. thank you for today's testimony. you made it clear we are facing ongoing threats posed by violent white supremacists, extremists, and other domestic terrorism sources. it is violence on the right and left that we are mindful of and
will do everything we can to protect the american public from that. last week we remembered one of the darkest days in american history. as we look forward, i hope the committee -- it has been stated by republicans and democrats -- that we are opposed to violence whatever the source may be. it has no place in our democracy and the expression of political points of view. once again, thank you to the witnesses and this meeting of the senate judiciary committee will stand adjourned sen. booker: -- adjourned. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019] -- 2022] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]
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