tv Justice Dept. Officials Testify on Threat of Domestic Terrorism CSPAN January 31, 2022 8:00am-10:03am EST
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.
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. >> so i would urge you to do that and i'm surprised you haven't. thank you very much. >> thank you, senator graham. senator coons. >> thank you, senator durbin, and thank you to our witnesses today. we are here to have a hearing about january 6th and about the threat of domestic violent extremism. in my view today, we are gathered because just last week we commemorated the anniversary of one of the darkest days in modern american history. on january 6th, i noted, and i want to repeat today, just how
grateful i am for law enforcement officers, the capitol police, the metropolitan police, members of the national guard from the region and the country. and others who protected all who work and serve in the capitol. the d.c. u.s. attorney's office reports that the angry mob that broke into and assaulted the capitol assaulted more than 140 law enforcement officers during that day, during that terrible day, during that insurrection. there were five officers who lost their lives as a result of that day, and they and their families remain in my prayers to this day a year later. those officers didn't come to work that day as republicans or democrats, as people from this state or that state, but simply as americans responsible for working to keep all of us and our democracy safe. they did their jobs. so later that night congress could reconvene in the chamber
and do ours and certify the results of the 2020 election. i think we owe it to the officers and their families to commit to making sure everyone involved in the violence that day is prosecuted. we need to ensure and correct the challenges, the resources, planning, that led to january 6 and we owe to them to take seriously the ongoing threat we face from domestic violent extreists domestic violent extremism also threatens our allies abroad. i went to more than a dozen countries around the world. democracy is under threat from nations all around the world, and these are nations that have long looked to us or whose human rights advocates or democracy advocates or journalists have long looked at us as a model.
as i've engaged with leaders around the world, i've heard firsthand how the visible symbol of the storming of our capitol on january 6 made foreign leaders doubt the durability of our democracy. our adversaries have trumpeted january 6 as a sign of weakness and disarray, and our allies have seen it as a troubling sign of the frame and society of our democratic system. that's why it's so important for every senator to join our chairman today in continuing to condemn all violence and threats of violence used to advance political goals. today's hearing is an important step in moving forward on the work to strengthen and heal our democracy. so mr. olsen, if i might just first ask you, i was encouraged to hear your testimony about establishing a new unit that will combat domestic terrorism. as a leader of the department's mission to combat terrorism, whether foreign or domestic,
espionage, cybercrime, other threats to our national security, would you agree that the violent assault on our capitol on january 6th has undermined our standing abroad? >> i would certainly say, senator, that what happened on january 6 has posed challenges and in terms of our status as a democracy. if you look across the country, i've had that conversation with foreign leaders in the national security space. that said, i think how we responded to it and how we address domestic terrorism, pursuing acts of violence stands as an example to the rest of the world. >> so you would agree that a failure to adequately respond to that with prosecution, that would further undermine or
standing as a democracy and therefore continue to weaken our standing in the world? >> i think the world is watching how we respond to this threat, and it can potentially affect our standing in the world, i would agree. >> if i might, mrs. sanborn, one last question. i think -- look, it's gravely concerning to me that there are some colleagues of mine here in the capitol, in the house, as well as in the senate that suggests that the mob that attacked the building on january 6 didn't include domestic violent extremists. but i think the facts are fairly clear. the u.s. attorney's office for d.c. published a snapshot of the investigation. there were more than 75 individuals charged with using a deadly or dangerous weapon or causing serious bodily harm to a police officer. and the 140 officers assaulted included 80 capitol police, 60 metropolitan police department members. mrs. sanborn, attacking police at the capitol in order to prevent the certification of an election for an explicit political end pretty squarely
fits within the definition of domestic violent extremism, doesn't it? >> yes, sir. yes, sir. >> thank you. and i see i'm out of time. let me just say i'm hopeful that all of us in this body can put aside rhetoric and speak with one voice and unequivocally condemn politically motivated violence and threats of violence going forward. thank you, mr. chair. >> i would like to clarify, has anyone been charged with the crime of insurrection following january 6? >> i am not aware that anyone has been charged with that particular offense, if it even is an offense. i'm not aware of that. it would be inappropriate for me to speak about any particular investigation at this point, but i'm not aware of anyone being
charged with that offense. >> i'm not, either. i just heard different things and i've heard different charges, but not that one. on june 27, 2021, i signed on to a letter with a bunch of my colleagues. the letter was signed by senator johnson. the purpose of the letter was to ask a number of questions about the individuals alleged to have committed crimes in connection with the 2020 riots, and those who elected to commit crimes on january 6. despite the best efforts of my staff to work with the departmentof justice to narrow the scope and prioritize certain questions, we didn't receive any answer until october 22nd, over four and a half months after we sent the letter. now, ordinarily you would think when you've got more than four and a half months to respond that you would submit a response that was at least good or
thorough, but to my great astonishment and dismay, the letter failed to answer a single question that we asked, not one. it was a statement of platitudes and cited publicly available resources about general policies. there was not one answer to a single one of our questions. it's a little bit troubling when you've got members of the united states senate charged with an oversight responsibility over the department of justice. to have a four and a half month delay followed by a complete refusal to engage. so i'd like to ask some questions based on that letter, and happy that i get the chance to do here where i don't have to wait four and a half months to get an unresponsive answer. first of all, did law enforcement utilize data from
cell phones of protesters in the unrest in the spring of 2020? >> sir, if that question is directed to me, i don't have any information to that question that would be responsive. >> i would be happy to receive some from any of you. ma'am, do you have any? >> without going into specifics on a specific case, we do often use geospecific data. >> i understand that you do. i'm asking if you did on the riots that occurred in 2020. and what about january 6? i'd like to know the number of times and locations. >> sir, i don't have that in front of me, but happy to take that back. i wasn't aware of your questions
until today, so i'm happy to take your question and try to see what we can do to be responsive. >> okay. now, 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 for pre-dawn raids or with s.w.a.t. teams or had warrants served on them through those means? >> sir, i don't have the particular numbers of arrests and/or the specific nature of the plan that might have been around that in front of me. >> okay. i'd also like to know were alleged to have committed crimes were alleged to have been witnesses to what happened on january 6th were people who had been arrested or had warrants
served on them using pre-dawn raids and s.w.a.t. teams. can you tell me at least an approximate number or whether it's a comparable number to those who had those executed or arrested in connection with the spring and summer riots of 2020? >> sir, i don't have either of those in front of me, and i would just, as a little preamble, would explain that the mechanics going behind time of day and when an arrest and how an arrest is done is very specific to each individual case and what potential threat they may or may not pose, but i don't have answers in front of me at this time. >> do you mind telling me how many individuals who were arrested in connection with the spring and summer riots of 2020 were placed in solitary
confinement? >> i don't have that and i'm not exactly sure that the fbi would house that data, but i definitely don't have that and i'm not sure we would have that. we could probably figure out how to direct you to the right organization for that. >> mr. olsen, do you have any idea how many of these individuals were offered deferred resolution agreements? that is, the individuals arrested in connection with offenses in the spring and summer of 2020? >> i do not, senator, have that specific information. some of those cases, of course, are still ongoing of that time period. i don't have any information about how many have been resolved. the plea offers or plea agreements versus going to trial. >> i see my time has expired. i'm going to ask the two of you to answer these questions and other questions i will submit for the record. i understand you've got big jobs to do, but i don't want four and
a half months to elapse again, and i certainly don't want a response that is non-responsive. thank you. >> thank you, senator lee. senator blumenthal. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and thank you for having this hearing which gives us the opportunity to join my colleagues in saying violence of any kind is unacceptable, any kind of physical coercion or violence should be condemned no matter who does it, no matter what the purpose is politically, and i hope that we share that view. let me ask you about the role of social media platforms in the promotion and organization of the stop the steal groups,
indisputably facebook, twitter and other social media platforms played a specific role in the organization and promotion of those groups that organized the assault on the capitol. these platforms fueled the rise of groups such as the bugaloo boys and the adams division who are responsible for several hate murders. facebook promised to stop these organizations and ban their groups. instead, according to facebook's own researchers, the company refused to recognize the magnitude of the threat and take appropriate action and take down those stop the steal groups that incited, encouraged and organized the violence that occurred on january 6. and this problem remains. in fact, 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 capitol attack. facebook has even allowed successionist militias to fund and place recruitment ads, ads that say, quote, we are prepared for war, end quote. would you join me in the view that social media platforms have failed, utterly failed, to do as much as they can and should do to stop groups and individuals that promote and propagate violence? >> senator, i can begin and then defer to my colleague, ms. sanborn. if i may just make a couple of points. i know you're fully aware of
this. hate crimes is protected by the first amendment. generally speaking, the department does not investigate anyone for amended, protected activities when that is the sole basis for their actions. the intelligence committee -- to your point, the intelligence committee has assessed that social media has increased the way that information is spread, the speed, dissemination, the accessibility of violent extremist conduct and content. it has also facilitated the decentralization of that information among violent extremist supporters. so social media can be identified as a source of some of the problem of the way this information is spread and how it can fuel violence. i think that's -- the third one i would make is that's why it's very important that the national strategy that was issued last
year is clear on this point, that it's critical to address the information environment and that we need to work in the government with the private sector, with social media platforms to help ensure that proper steps are taken that this information is not as widely available. >> let me ask you, because i've heard some law enforcement officials say that when these groups are deplatformed, sometimes they're harder to track. you have other means of tracking them. you don't need them to be on social media to track them, correct? >> again, i would defer to ms. sanborn, but as a larger proposition, that is correct. there are multiple ways to collect information on individuals who are involved in violent extremist activities.
>> do you have under investigation cases involving threat and violence against members of school boards, election workers? in other words, some of the targets -- not here in the capitol but at the local and state level? do you have under investigations those kinds of threats of violence? >> as a general matter, it would not be appropriate to talk about any particular case. as a general matter, the national security division is not involved in any of those types of investigations. >> why not? >> -- that might include threats of violence against school board members. senator, the only reason where we might get involved -- it's twofold -- where a particular threat might rise to a level of a national security threat, for example, if it's serious enough to rise to the level of domestic terrorism. i have not seen that. the other way in which we get
involved actually is to ensure that threats of violence and violence that might be criminal are not improperly branded as domestic terrorism or domestic violent extremism. again, as i understand the whole point of the attorney general's memo is to protect both the first amendment rights of people who are there to speak and participate in the political process as well as the safety of public officials. >> let me ask you finally, because my time is expired, why has the department of justice not sought enhanced penalties in the cases involving the january 6th insurrection based on the terrorism element here under the 1993 law enhanced terrorism penalties and punishment can be sought? why has the department of justice not used that statute
that clearly applies to domestic as well as international terrorism? >> senator, it is my understanding, again, i'm not going to talk about any particular investigation. of course, that statute is available in the context of the investigations and prosecutions of the july 6 defendants, but each case just defends on the specific facts and circumstances of that case, and as the attorney general described last week, that case is being built like all large department of justice investigations from the ground up, starting with those who are potentially at the lower end of culpability. so as a general matter, that's where we are in the investigation, and whether that might apply to any future case remains to be seen. >> i'm not asking about individual cases, but as a general matter, none of these cases has involved any requests
for enhanced penalties based on its involving terrorism. and i would like to know the answer to that question. i'm out of time, but if you could respond in writing, i would appreciate it. >> i will. thank you. >> thank you, senator blumenthal. senator cruz? >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. olsen, how many people have been charged with crimes of violence in connection with the events on january 6? >> senator, i'm not sure exactly how many have been charged with crimes of violence. i know that there are -- >> how many have been charged with non-violent crimes? >> i don't have the numbers of people charged whether at the state or federal level -- >> how many people are currently incarcerated concerning the events of january 6th? >> i don't know the number of people incarcerated. again, i know that -- >> let me ask you -- look, i have limited time, so i don't want you to filibuster.
you either know the answer or you don't. how many people have been placed in solitary confinement concerning the events the january 6th? >> i don't have any information about that, sir. >> it was sad, senator lee just asked you about this. back in june of 2021, senator leon and i and two other senators sent a letter to the department of justice asking these questions, asking about the differential prosecutions. let me ask you, during 2020, black lives matter and antifa riots all across the country, there were over 700 police officers injured by black lives matter and antifa riots. how many people have been charged with crimes of violence concerning those riots all across the country? >> i would say hundreds of people have been charged. >> you would say but you don't know. when we asked you why the biden department of justice has such wildly disparate standards,
going after january 6th, targeting some who committed crimes of violence, and anyone who commit crimes of violence should be prosecuted, but also targeting a lot of non-violent individuals, we asked you why you won't target the rioters or terrorists that hit parts of this country. the answer we got back was shameful. you wrote back and said, quote, the department's prosecutorial offensescomisserate with these events. i guess that means the white house, and i can tell you people are very concerned about the politicization under president biden. the doj refused to answer the
letter today when you were asked about it. every answer was i don't know, i don't know, i don't know. you're under oath. you may believe to the department of justice you're unaccountable to the american people, but that is not the case, and the wildly 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 6th? >> sir, i'm sure you can appreciate that i can't go into the specifics of sources and methods. >> did any fbi agents or confidential informants actively participate in the events of january 6th, yes or no? >> sir, i can't answer that. >> did any fbi agents or confidential informants commit crimes of violence on january 6th? >> i can't answer that. >> did fbi informants actively
incite crimes of violence on january 6th. >> i can't answer that. >> who is ray epps? >> i'm aware of the individual, sir. i don't have the specific background of him. >> well, there are a lot of people who are understandably very concerned about mr. epps. on the night of january 5th, 2021, epps wandered around the crowd that had gathered, and there's video out there of him chanting, tomorrow we need to get into the capitol, into the capitol. this was strange behavior. so strange that the crowd began chanting, fed, fed, fed, fed, fed! ms. sanborn, is ray epps a fed? >> sir, i cannot answer that question. >> the next day, on january 6th, mr. epps is seen whispering to a
person, and five seconds later, five seconds after he's whispering to a person, that same person begins to forcibly tear down the barricades. did mr. epps urge them to tear down the barricades? >> sir, similar to the other answers, i cannot answer that. >> shortly thereafter, the fbi put out a public post seeking information on individuals connected with violent crimes on january 6th. among those individuals on the bottom there is mr. epps. the fbi publicly asked for information identifying, offering cash rewards for information leading to the arrest. this was posted, and then sometime later, magically mr. epps disappeared from the public posting. according to public records, mr. epps has not been charged with anything.
no one has explained why a person videoed urging people to go to the capitol, a person whose conduct was so suspect, the crowd believed he was a fed would magically disappear from the list of people the fbi was looking at. ms. sanborn, a lot of people are concerned that the federal government deliberately encouraged illegal and violent conduct on january 6th. my question to you, and this is not an ordinary law enforcement question, this is a question of a public accountability. did federal agents or those in service of federal agents actively encourage violent and criminal conduct on january 6th? >> not to my knowledge, sir. >> thank you. >> senator leahy? >> thank you, mr. chairman. i'm sure the witnesses can hear me well enough that i won't have
to shout. sometimes, you know, there are two sides to a story. but that just doesn't hold true for the events of january 6 and the threat of domestic terrorism we face today. the violent attack of january 6 was perpetrated in significant part by domestic violent extremists, with white supremacist and idealogic idealogies. that is the most lethal threat we face as a democracy today. as a prosecutor, i can tell you i feel violent extremism in any form is unacceptable and i so prosecute that way. but to downplay the most clear and present danger we have facing all americans creates a real danger to the united
states. last week -- we have to come together as members of this senate and face reality and the truth. last week i asked you what would happen if capitol police were held to last year's fiscal funding levels and did not receive increased funding as part of the a fiscal year 2022 funding package. he told me it would seriously undermine the capitol police in protecting the capitol. addressing extreme terrorism is a job of the fbi department. in the budget request, the appropriations committee has released a bill that would dramatically increase that funding to respond to the dangers. so i'd ask this question.
mr. olsen, if congress fails to enact these funding increases for fiscal year '22, how would it impact the department's ability to comprehensively respond to the terrorism we face? >> i know the department of justice and the administration has submitted a budget request asking for additional resources, and obviously those resources are being requested because we've viewed those as essential to being able to carry out our mission, so i would suggest to you the submissions on our budget request with respect to those appropriations. >> thank you. ms. sanborn, it's good to see you again. i'm one of the ones who have been here long enough to remember when you were a senate page, and i appreciate the
things you've accomplished since then. but can you answer the same question i asked mr. olsen about these funding increases from the fbi's perspective? >> yes, sir, i am aware that we have requested a budget enhancement. right now we use the resources we have, but as alluded to by mr. olsen, we have requested an enhancement specifically for violent extremism. >> thank you. your testimony discusses the concrete steps that the justice department addresses first to mr. olsen, but -- and then, ms. sanborn, you talked about the steps the justice department has taken for countering domestic
terrorism, finding ways to counter domestic conspiracy theories online. we know that domestic violent extremists pay attention to the rhetoric of political leaders. that includes, for example, the rhetoric of calling the january 6th rioters political prisoners, sending a signal they did nothing illegal. that frightens me, so mr. olsen and ms. san southern, how does this impact the thinking and action of violent extremists? does it make recruitment of this action? that's what i'm asking. >> i would defer to ms. sanborn, but there is no doubt that misinformation, disinformation, false narratives at the
intelligence community are available online to violent extremists. whether that's domestic violent extremists or those who may be influenced by international terrorist groups and the availability of social media being an accelerant to an individual's movement, as you mentioned, senator, from simply being susceptible to those movements to being radicalized and eventually being mobilized to violence. we've seen this same pattern occur in both the international terrorism context when it comes to isis and their propaganda as we've seen on the domestic violent extremist side with regard to domestic, political and social influences. so it's a significant problem. >> ms. sanborn? >> i would agree with that. bottom line is violent extremist material on the internet reaches those vulnerable to recruitment, so we're concerned about that
on, quote, unquote, misinformation. we know our adversaries would do everything they could to include information to sow discord. >> i yield. >> thank you, senator lee. senator cotton? >> you signed a letter for keeping the courthouse safe. it said, marked cars should only be used in certain circumstances. crowd control is not among those circumstances. mr. olsen, on january 6, 2021, did the department of justice or the fbi have any plainclothes officers among the crowd at the capitol? >> senator, i'm not aware of whether or not there were
plainclothes officers among the crowd at the capitol on january 6. >> did any plainclothes officers enter the capitol on january 6th? >> i don't know the answer to that, senator. >> mr. olsen, i've got to say your answers to many questions today are disappointing because they boil down to essentially "i don't know." did you prepare for this hearing? did you know this hearing was happening before this morning? >> the direct answer, yes, i prepared extensively, senator. many of the questions are about specific information that i don't have available. the most important points that i would emphasize is as a general matter, it's not appropriate to comment on ongoing investigations -- >> i didn't ask you about an
ongoing investigation. i just flipped to the cover of my binder and it says the title of this hearing is the domestic terrorism threat one year after january 6. the attorney general has repeatedly said this is one of the department's highest priorities. you're testifying at a hearing about the domestic terrorism threat one year after january 6 and you can't answer questions about how many people have been charged for events rising out of january 6. would you go into a briefing with the attorney general, your boss, and not be able to answer such basic questions? >> on the last question you asked, senator, over 700 people have been charged in connection with january 6. about 325 have been charged with serious felonies in connection with the attacks. >> ten minutes ago senator cruz asked you this series of questions and you didn't have the answer. you didn't have the answer about how many people were charged with violent offenses, non-violent offenses? have you been given the answer in the last ten minutes? >> i'm sorry if i misunderstood,
senator, but i believe senator cruz was asking me about other events, not the january 6 event. >> let's turn to another issue that came up earlier today, ray epps. during the january 6 riots last year, mr. epps was caught on video several times. he seemed to encourage people to enter the capitol, to break down police barriers. video from the rally down the national mall earlier that day shows him doing the same thing. video, even, from the night before shows him encouraging people to enter the capitol. ray epps lives in arizona. he didn't exactly go underground after january 6. he even gave an interview to local media and he was well known to the department of justice. he was on the fbi's capitol riot most wanted page just days after january 6. in fact, he was one of the first 16 suspects added to that most wanted page on your website. it doesn't appear he's been arrested or charged with any offense. in july, without explanation, he was removed from the fbi's most
wanted page. mr. olsen, who is ray epps, and why was he removed from the fbi's most wanted list? >> senator, i don't have any information about that individual. i would defer to ms. sanborn for anything additional. >> this gets back to what i meant earlier, asking if you prepared for this hearing. you're the assistant attorney general for national security. you run the national security division. the department has said that these january 6 prosecutions are one of their highest priorities. this is a man who was on the most wanted page for six months. do you really expect us to believe that you've never heard of the name ray epps, you don't know anything about him? >> i simply don't have any information at all, senator, about that individual. >> what other suspects on the most wanted page do you know
nothing about? >> senator -- >> can you name anyone else on the department of justice's most wanted page? >> i'm sorry, i didn't hear your question. >> can you name anyone else on the department of justice's most wanted page from the january 6 riots? >> i'm not familiar with the most wanted page. >> i guess we'll have to seek our answers elsewhere, but has not been a stellar performance today. >> senator whitehouse, are you online? >> i am. >> please proceed. >> thank you. mr. olsen, as a legal matter, are violent acts and threats of violence protected by the first amendment? >> senator, no. violent acts and threats of violence are not protected.
>> are they crimes, indeed, sometimes federal crimes? >> they can be both state and federal crimes, senator, yes. >> and if violence or threats of violence occur at a school board meeting, is there any difference there from other locations? >> not from the perspective of whether or not those acts would be considered crimes under either state or federal law. >> it's the conduct itself, not the location of the conduct that determines the offense, correct? >> that's correct. as a general matter, that's correct. >> ms. sanborn, how long has the fbi coordinated with local communities regarding terrorism threats? >> sir, i don't have the specifics for you, but the jttf, for example, was stood up in 1980, so talking with
communities and partners for years, yes, sir. >> and that includes domestic terrorism threats? >> absolutely. as i said, jttf was created out of a domestic terrorism threat issue we were dealing with. >> and all 94 of the attorneys' offices were tasked with setting up a local group to gather situational awareness regarding terrorist threats, correct? years ago. >> my understanding, yes. i defer to mr. olsen to confirm whether i'm correct or not. >> tell me what predication is required to open an investigation of a domestic organization as a domestic terrorist group? >> sir, we do not open cases on
organizations, we open cases on individuals. obviously we would build out if they were conspiring or coordinating with others as we went throughout the course of our investigation, but we do not open cases on domestic groups. >> so if you wanted to send a confidential informant or an 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? >> correct, and i would add to it that the bottom line is we have to have an authorized purpose to collect the data we're seeking to collect, and that stems from being tied to allegations of a federal crime or interest in national security. >> and, mr. olsen, with respect
to the january 6th assault, will the department of justice follow the evidence upstream to funders, organizers and instigators not present at the capitol assault if justified? or put another way, does the department of justice have any policy or reticence not to follow the evidence regarding upstream funders, organizers and investigators? >> senator, as the attorney general discussed last week in his speech, the department will follow the evidence wherever it leads, and that's consistent with the direction that i have in my role as head of the national security division. >> and it's not uncommon in looking at a organized or
multi-defendant event for the department to begin with prosecutions as attorney general garland suggested of low-level people, whether it's street dealers and a narcotics organization or rioters or trespassers in the january 6 assault, correct? >> correct. in fact, i began my career as a federal prosecutor here in washington, d.c. and that is the standard approach that's taken in all manner of large conspiracy cases. >> and it's customary to do that first in order to obtain further evidence against upstream organizers or kingpins, correct? >> correct. and that work can be painstaking and requires a degree of patience and hard work to follow the evidence wherever it goes. >> the department is following that standard with respect to the january 6 investigation? >> that's correct. >> thanks very much.
my time is up. >> thank you, senator whitehouse. there was reference in this hearing from senator cruz and senator cotton about an individual named ray epps. i've never heard the name before. my staff has given me an article from "politifact" which i'm going to ask to be entered into the record. it notes that this individual and the circumstances of his being in washington on january 6 was raised by something known as revolver news, a website which is run by a former trump white house speech writer named darren beatty who was dismissed from the white house after appearing on the panel with a white nationalist. fox news host tucker carlson amplified his claim in a conspiratorial documentary series that attempted to recast
the events of january 6. i know nothing further beyond that. i'm asking that this be entered into the record because it apparently has caught the attention of senator cruz and senator cotton. at this point, senator hawley is recognized. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. mr. olsen, let me start with you. how many personnel in your national security division are working on cases or other issues surrounding the events of january 6? >> senator, that investigation is being led by the u.s. attorney's office in washington, d.c. there they have dozens of individuals, including people who have been -- prosecutors who have sent from around the country for that investigation. we have a main justice system to support that investigation. >> but from your division, how many? none? >> from my division i know there
are at least three or four who have been working at least part-time on that case. >> how many people in your division have been working on the case involving garland's memorandum entitled "tribal and territorial law enforcement on threats of violence by school board members, teachers and staff"? >> senator, with regard to that memo and that work, the national security division plays an informal advisory role. there's no one dedicated to that on any sort of full-time or even part-time basis. i think we're available to consult with if the facts warrant that level of confrontation with the national level. >> this is the school board, for those who are following along here. what is it your division has done today so far with regard to memorandum and the department's effort here to track parents at school board meetings? >> with regard to the school
board memo which, again, i understand is an effort to protect school board members, other public servants, teachers from acts of violence or threats of violence, but from the perspective of the national security division, i don't think we've had any particular role or done anything in particular with regard to that effort. >> so you're not coordinating with local officials? >> i'm not aware, senator, that the national security division has played any role in any matter up to this date. i've been in the role for two and a half months, but i've not heard of anyone in my division having any role to play there yet. >> you responded to some questions from senator whitehouse just a moment ago about parents at school board meetings. the gist of the questions was it doesn't really matter if it's a school board meeting or elsewhere, if you commit acts of terrorism anywhere, then it's terrorism. is it your view that parents speaking out at school board meetings can be or are domestic
terrorists? >> absolutely not. and my understanding of the attorney general's memo on this is that it is not about people speaking out at school boards, it's not about people voicing their opinions, exercising their first amendment rights, it's about protecting, whether it's teachers, or for that matter, law enforcement officers or other public officials from threats of violence, criminal contacts. my understanding of senator whitehouse's question was really just about the location of various federal crimes, not necessarily domestic terror which are federal crimes, being beside the point when it comes to federal law enforcement. >> are department of justice law official still drawing up laws about whether parents can be prosecuted at school board meetings? >> i'm not aware that' ever happened. >> really? did you watch the senator when
he was here and he read into the record a list of crimes that prosecutors and employees had prepared, had sent to local officials talking about crimes that parents could potentially be charged with? a list which, by the way, was incorrect. it listed crimes that don't exist but that had been sent to local partners in at least one state, all of the local partners in one state. are you familiar with his testimony in that regard? did you watch that hearing? >> i am generally familiar with the attorney general's testimony, and in my understanding of both his testimony and his direction for the department of justice is to take the next steps that we can take, whether it's enforcing federal law and 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 people who attend or speak at school board or other public meetings. >> well, here's my issue with
that, is that what we have found consistently out of the department of justice is we can't get a straight answer as to where your division would be involved at all with regard to school board meetings. the attorney general told us yo reporting that you have been. we were told that parents wouldn't be charged with federal crimes. we know that the department of justice prosecutors have drawn up lists of federal crimes and disseminated them to local partners. the attorney general told us that hadn't happened. we know from whistle-blower that it has happened and we can't get a straight answer as to why parents should ever be treated or regarded as domestic terrorists. i have other questions that i would like to ask you. i'll give those to you for the record and i'll have some additional questions for you regarding your division's involvement or not with what the attorney general is doing with regard to school boards. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator hawley. i believe senator booker is
virtually available. >> yes, mr. chairman. >> senator booker, take it away. >> first and foremost, i think your call to members on both sides of this committee is important and, unfortunately so, in terms of the necessary thing that i'm going with the -- condemning all types of political violence in our country. we are a nation that must firmly adhere the ideals of nonviolence and condemn those actors and they should be held accountable when it does happen. and i'm grateful for you calling on all of us to reaffirm that point. i want to start by talking about firearms on the day of january 6th. extensive video and photographic evidence shows that rioters on january 6th repeatedly acted violently forward u.s. capital police and d.c. police officers. the rioters carried a variety of different types of weapons, including flagpoles, clubs,
hockey sticks, crowbars, fire extinguishers, knives, bats, stun guns, police gear and more. a pipe bomb was also discovered next to the democratic national committee's headquarters and it's been reported that vice president-elect harris was inside the building at the time. dozens of individuals were carrying weapons of some kind. the rioters that day injured 140 officers, some of whom are still dealing with the impact of those injuries and potentially lifetime permanent damage to their bodies. one of the officers on that day, brian sicknick, died from the injuries he suffered. and i understand you previously testified last year that the fbi did not recover any firearms.
however, you stated that you were not aware whether the u.s. capitol police or the d.c. police confiscated any guns. based on the provisional review of the justice department's filings, it appears that at least five individuals so far 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 approximately how many firearms were confiscated next to january 6th in total, or how many people we know now have had actual firearms and can you describe the nature of the firearm charges that the justice department has filed so far? . >> sir, yes, i'll start and i'll probably defer to mr. olson on the charges and i appreciate the
opportunity. as i sit here today and i think that's important because as we investigate, facts change. i'm aware of five individuals that had a charge related to a firearm. one of which was arrested by our state and local partners, not within the restricted area, however, on the day of january 6th. there was one other individual who was arrested, by our 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 suggesting that they came in the restricted area and had on their possession a weapon. so i am aware of all five of those and hope that helps clarify, again, as we continue to follow the facts, some of that could change. >> i don't know if mr. olson wants to add anything to that. >> only, again, senator, i'm
aware, obviously, of the information you cited about how the -- those involved in the attack on the capitol did bring other weapons, in addition to the ones you're talking about, firearms, bats, poles, pepper spray and the like. and then just the general point, senator, one of the lessons we learned from international terrorism is take an all authorities approach. when you look at the kinds of charges that may be brought, it may include firearms. we look at all of the available federal charges that would be supported by the evidence. >> and, mr. olson, quickly, in your written testimony that you said we face these obvious domestic violence extremists, some are motivated by ethnic animus, religiously so. i'm concerned about sheriffs who call themselves constitutional sheriffs. they believe they are the
arbiter of what the law is anywhere given county and in their view that power supersedes the -- that of other elected officials. this is deeply alarming, and it has white supremacist roots. the founder of the constitutional sheriffs and peace officer's association who was a board member of the far right extremist group known as the oath keepers, called the federal government the greatest threat we face today. really quickly, my time is expiring, what kind of threat do these individuals who call themselves constitutional sheriffs, many whom are elected officials, really pose to our system of government and when looking at the threats from domestic violence extremists, does the department of justice see movements like the constitutional sheriffs as playing a key role in the radicalization of those who sympathize with antigovernmental views?
>> senator, i am familiar with that group from public reporting. i would say as a general matter, what we do know is that there has been, particularly of the last year, a significant rise in the threat from antigovernment, antiauthority violent extremists. again, focused on actions and violence, not on speech, not on ideology, but we have seen a rise in that type of domestic violent extremism over the past year, so it is an area that we are focused on along with our partners at the fbi. >> and the rise is a relative term. what kind of increase are we seeing? >> i don't have specifics on numbers of cases. but it was more -- it was a marked increase in my conversations with ms. sanborn in preparation for this hearing, this has been something that's been reinforced that this is a
threat that's been elevated over the past year. >> thank you, thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator booker. and i want to thank our witnesses for appearing before the committee today 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 that mr. olson was explicit, and i would invite him to restate it if necessary, that the ordinary appearance before a school board in a peaceful manner expressing your point of view is not a crime either by state or federal standards and that it -- many instances, if not all, it is protected speech. is that your testimony, mr. olson? >> it is, chairman. if -- i don't know if i can be any clearer, but the attorney general said spirited debate is protected by the first amendment. this effort is protecting our
public servants from acts of violence and threats of violence. >> and that an an important point. there are more and more public servants who are being threatened in ways they'd never seen before. and many of them, i've sadly have reached a point where they walked away from public service. and that is a reality. and i don't care whether it's a school board member or member of a city council or a member of a legislature or congress. whoever it may be, in public life, including law enforcement officials, deserve our best efforts to keep them safe. and i hope that the department of justice, when it reaches the appropriate level, if it does, will engage in that activity and i think that's what the attorney is setting out to do. i might also add, i know -- i personally know of no defense to domestic terrorism that you -- are a parent of a child in
school. that does not absolve you from your legal responsibility to be nonviolent in your activity. i'm not going to ask you to comment on that. that's my own personal point of view. that's the way i feel. when i listen to these comments about inhibiting parents from testimonying at school boards, i don't see that at all in terms of the policies of the administration. it is only when it crosses that unacceptable line of violence that should be the province of the federal government and interject itself. thank you for the testimony. today's hearing made it clear that we're facing ongoing threats posed by violent white supremacists, militia violent extremists, other domestic terrorism sources, that it is violence on the right and on the left that we are mindful of and will set out to 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 that the committee and it's been stated, i want to say in all fairness today, is that we are opposed to violence, whatever the source may be. it has no place in our democracy and the free expression of person's political point of views. thank you to the witnesses and this meeting -- of the senate judiciary committee will stand adjourned. thank you. c-span is your unfiltered
view of your government. we're funded by charter communications. >> broadband is a force for empowerment. that's why charter has invested billions. building infrastructure, upgrading technology, empowering opportunity in communities big and small. charter is connecting us. >> charter communications sports c-span has a public service. along with these other television providers. giving you a front-row seat to democracy. now a hearing on changes to u.s. capitol security. capitol police chief tom manger, william walker and brett blanton appeared before a subcommittee talking about staffing needs, increased funding and communication shortfalls among other topics. this runs just under two hours. >> good morning to our panel. i'm pleased