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January 6 Committee Will Hold Bannon In Criminal Contempt

The Congressional committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol announced on Thursday that it would move to hold Steve Bannon in criminal contempt for refusing to comply with a subpoena.

The House select committee sent subpoenas to Bannon and three of former President Donald Trump's other close allies on September 23.

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Republicans Angrily Attack Hearing On Violent Extremism In Military

On Wednesday, the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs held a hearing on the recent rise of domestic violent extremist groups and how they're targeting active and retired military members in their recruitment efforts. Extremism within the ranks is nothing new — both the Department of Homeland Security and terror experts have for years warned of domestic violent extremists in the armed forces — but ever since the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, and the presence of active-duty military and veterans among the rioters who carried it out, there's been renewed concern about the issue.

But while two panels of expert witnesses testified about the problem, citing data and research that show not only that the problem exists but also that it's on the rise, Republican members of the committee repeatedly tried to derail the hearing by attacking their Democratic colleagues and the witnesses who testified.

In his opening remarks, ranking member Rep. Mike Bost (R-IL) falsely accused committee Chair Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA) of making the hearing a partisan exercise that would harm the reputations of veterans.

"It grabs at the headlines when veterans are accused of becoming violent extremists," Bost said. "But there is very little data on how many veterans are actually involved in violent extremism. ... We cannot let a few bad apples spoil the whole bunch."

Bost wasn't entirely wrong in his comment about the lack of data, but as Dr. Cynthia Miller-Idriss, director of the Polarization and Extremism Research and Innovation Lab at American University, said in her testimony, "We suffer from a significant lack of data on veteran attitudes and support for extremist movements, although we do know from repeated incidents that veterans are frequently and disproportionately engaged in violent extremist action in the U.S. Army."

Bost was far from the only Republican on the committee to attack his Democratic colleagues. Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) opened his remarks with a harsh message to Takano: "I hope every veteran in America is watching this hearing today and hearing from you and the majority in control of this committee that our veterans are so stupid and susceptible to becoming domestic terrorists that you and the Democrats have to save them from it," Banks said. "It's widely offensive and dangerous."

Banks then went on to focus much of his time questioning and mocking past tweets by Miller-Idriss addressing the trend of right-wing figures boasting about their consumption of red meat as performative masculinity. "Dr. Cynthia Miller-Idriss, you have presented numerous concerning statements that may lead people to question your credibility," Banks said. "Dr. Miller, I had a hamburger last night. Does eating red meat make me an extremist?"

Toward the end of the hearing, Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC), a freshman member of Congress who has become known for his extremist views and what some observers say are ties to white nationalism, joined in remotely from a mountain somewhere in his home district in North Carolina to slam his Democratic colleagues and the expert witnesses participating in the hearing. "The only extremism I am aware of that exists in a large manner inside of our military is an extreme level of patriotism," he said. "I do not appreciate this hearing. Veterans are being derided and spit upon."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Domestic Terror Threats Have ‘Exploded’ Since 2020

FBI Director Chris Wray told members of Congress on Tuesday that the number of domestic terror cases in the United States has "exploded" over the past year and a half, confirming many suspicions surrounding the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

On Tuesday, Wray told members of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that the FBI's domestic terrorism caseload has "more than doubled" since the spring of 2020, "from about 1,000 to around 2,700 investigations."

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Poll: Americans More Worried By Domestic Terrorism Than Foreign Enemies

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

More Americans are worried about threats from domestic extremist groups than foreign ones, according to a recent poll conducted by the Associated Press and NORC at the University of Chicago.

The poll, which was released Thursday morning, found that 65 percent of respondents said they are extremely worried about threats from domestic extremist groups. Seventy-five percent of Democratic respondents said they were very worried about the domestic extremism threat, while 57 percent of Republicans and 55 percent of independents also said they were very worried about threats posed by those groups. But just 50 percent of overall respondents said they were worried about threats from extremist groups outside of the United States: 49 percent of Democrats, 54 percent of Republicans, and 41 percent of independents.

There was a steep increase in violence from far-right extremist groups during the Trump administration. The number of incidents peaked in 2020 to the highest levels shown since the data was first collected in 1994, according to an analysis of data from the Washington Post. The Post found that the rise in far-right extremism was mostly driven by white supremacists, as well as anti-Muslim and anti-government extremist groups.

Nearly 600 individuals have been charged for their involvement with the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capital led by far-right extremists and supporters of Donald Trump. And experts warn that actions taken by the FBI and law enforcement to hold individuals accountable are not the end of far-right extremist violence. They say it could even get worse, especially with a Democrat in the White House.

Daryl Johnson, the former lead analyst for domestic terrorism at the Department of Homeland Security, told the American Independent Foundation, "It's under Democratic administrations where these groups proliferate. So, for at least the next four years... we're still gonna see a period of heightened activity."

In early August, a leaked Department of Homeland Security document warned of a "modest but increasing threat of violence" from people and groups who believe 2020 election conspiracy theories.

And in recent weeks, popular extremist and white supremacist channels on encrypted social media apps including Telegram have been exploiting 2020 election conspiracy theories, anti-government sentiment over coronavirus vaccine and mask mandates, 2020 census data, and most recently, the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan in order to recruit new people into their ranks.

On Saturday, shortly after the capital city of Kabul fell to Taliban control, far-right extremist channels were praising the Taliban and drawing comparisons to the conservative agenda in America.

"The Taliban is going to ban abortion, vaccines, and gay marriage... maybe we were fighting on the wrong side for 20 years," Nick Fuentes, an anti-Semitic and ultra-right vlogger posted to Gab.

Messages also showed people praising the Taliban — in particular, how they were able to take over Afghanistan so quickly. According to Buzzfeed News, one influential far-right vlogger with ties to a violent neo-Nazi group wrote, "the Taliban is epic. The US had to invade in the early 2000's and stay over 20 years, spending $1 trillion dollars, and dozens of American lives to hold them back. As soon as we left, the Taliban takes over the whole country in like 12 hours. LMAO."

Sara Kamali, an extremism researcher and scholar, told Buzzfeed News that the political backlash over the withdrawal of U.S. troops in Afghanistan "has been leveraged by white nationalists to support their claim of the illegitimacy and ineptitude of the Biden administration as well as calls to reinstate Donald Trump as president." She worries that this rhetoric could be used as a recruitment tool for extremist groups.

Just Thursday afternoon, law enforcement arrested a man in Washington, D.C., who barricaded himself in a truck parked outside of the Library of Congress, claiming he had a bomb. The man, who was identified by police as Floyd Ray Roseberry, posted videos of himself to Facebook railing against President Joe Biden and Democrats while threatening to blow himself up to start a revolution.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Terror Experts Warn Census Data May Spur White Nationalist Violence

The U.S. Census Bureau released its data from the 2020 decennial survey last week, which revealed, among other findings, that the white population in the country is declining.

White supremacist and extremist groups on the messaging platform Telegram quickly latched onto the news, ratcheting up their racist rhetoric in an attempt to recruit new followers, prompting experts who track extremist movements to warn that it could lead to an uptick in violence from such groups.

According to the census data, almost all of the population growth over the past decade was among people who identified as Black, Asian, and Latino, while the white population in the United States declined for the first time in history.

In popular extremist and white supremacist channels, that data was shared with racist analysis and a call for supporters to take action. One Telegram channel that has more than 50,000 subscribers posted the data along with a video of a large group of people fighting outside of a shoe store in LA, with the message, "Life is worth less than a free pair of this seasons [sic] shoes to these societal parasites... that doesn't bode well for the West."

Another message posted in a different white supremacist Telegram that has been shared more than 7,500 times warns that "White decline is deliberate policy, not an accident of history. And like any policy it can be changed."

The census data and subsequent reaction it has garnered in far-right circles on the internet has some extremist experts on guard, many warning that it could lead to a surge in violence, particularly race-based hate crimes.

"This has always been their greatest fear," said Daryl Johnson, the former lead analyst for domestic terrorism at the Department of Homeland Security. "And I think it's one of the main drivers behind white supremacist recruitment and violence, the demographic shifting in America."

He added that the "latest census results just reinforce that fear and realization."

"Undoubtedly," he said, "there are going to be people on the far-right that will be agitated and angered by this data and want to do something about it."

Dr. Heidi Beirich, the co-founder and chief strategy officer of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, also fears an uptick in extremist violence in the wake of the census data and said it was a trend the country had already observed over the past five years.

"The fact that these demographics are going to continue in this way, it means we have a serious problem on our hands with millions of Americans who fundamentally disagree with a multicultural, diverse democracy," she said. "And it's going to become a much worse situation."

"I think that the fact that we've seen the attacks on the voting on January 6, the attempts undermine electoral systems — this all part of the freakouts about demographics," she added.

The census data comes as experts already fear threats of increased violence from far-right extremist groups more broadly.

A Department of Homeland Security memo that leaked in early August warned of "increasing but modest" threat of violence from people and groups who believe are still pushing 2020 election conspiracy theories. And a study published on Aug. 6 from the Chicago Project on Security & Threats at the University of Chicago found that nearly 21 million Americans agree that "use of force is justified to restore Donald J. Trump to the presidency" and that "the 2020 election was stolen, and Joe Biden is an illegitimate president."

For researchers like Beirich and Johnson, who track extremist movements and analyze chatter in encrypted extremist and white supremacist groups, the census data adds yet another opportunity of recruitment for such groups.

In the past few years, extremist and white supremacist groups have been successful in recruiting supporters from conspiracy theories movements like QAnon, along with anti-mask and anti-vaccine supporters, and other anti-government groups.

With the coronavirus delta variant crippling parts of the country and mask mandates being reinstated, Johnson worries the extremist groups may grow more active.

"It's under Democratic administrations where these groups proliferate," he said. "So, for at least the next four years... we're still gonna see a period of heightened activity."

He added, "It's going to take time to slow the momentum and growth we've seen over the past 10 years. This stuff doesn't stop on a dime."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Former Trump Appointee Charged With Assaulting Officer On Jan. 6

Federico Klein, a former Trump appointee to the State Department, was charged Thursday with allegedly assaulting a Metropolitan Police Officer using a deadly weapon during the riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6.

According to an expanded indictment, Klein, "using a deadly or dangerous weapon, that is, a shield, did forcibly assault, resist, oppose, impede, intimidate, and interfere with an officer and employee of the United States."

Though Klein was first charged individually on March 19 for his actions on January 6, the Justice Department combined his case with that of six other defendants, and two individuals yet to be charged, on July 29.

The superseding indictment alleged that Klein was part of a wave of rioters who engaged in a violent conflict with police officers in the Lower West Terrace of the Capitol and a nearby tunnel between 2:40 p.m. and 3:18 p.m. ET. In videos released by the Justice Department, rioters, including Klein, allegedly engaged in fierce coordinated assaults against the line of police officers attempting to block off the tunnel, using metal poles, riot shields, and other makeshift weapons.

During the first hearing of the House Select Committee to Investigate January 6 — assembled by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after an initial bipartisan commission failed to come together amid GOP pushback — Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) said that she and another member of Congress were sheltering in an office "40 paces" from the tunnel where rioters, including Klein, were fighting police officers attempting to hold them off from progressing farther.

She credited law enforcement from keeping her alive.

"I listened to you struggle," she told officers testifying during that hearing, who had been present at the Capitol and had pushed back the mob. "I listened to you yelling out to one another. I listened to you care for one another… I listened to people coughing, having difficulty breathing. And then I listened to you getting back into the fight."

She added, "The reason I was able to hug [my children] again was because of the courage you and other officers showed that day."

A video released by the Justice Department indeed appears to show Klein allegedly pushing his way to the front of a group of rioters attempting to break through a police line in that tunnel.

According to D.C. CBS affiliate WUSA9, in the footage, Klein appears to grab at a riot shield in the hands of an MPD officer before ultimately picking up a large metal pole, all while urging on the other rioters and allegedly calling for mob reinforcements.

Klein, along with the six other is currently facing at least eight charges, including multiple counts of assaulting a police officer.

According to WUSA9, Klein was turned in by his former State Department colleagues who saw his photo on an FBI wanted poster following the attack.

The January 6 insurrection ultimately resulted in several deaths, tens of millions of dollars in repairs, and more than 600 separate charges. At least 140 law enforcement officers, both Capitol and Metropolitan Police, were injured in the attack; several who guarded the Capitol that day have since died by suicide.

Despite the damage, many Republican lawmakers, as well as former President Donald Trump, who was impeached for incitement of insurrection related to that attack, have attempted to rewrite what happened that day, insisting, among other things, that the incident was little more than a "tourist" visit, or that members of the mob were actually "antifa" activists dressed as Trump supporters, claims which are not rooted in reality and have been repeatedly debunked.

The House committee's inquiry into the matter is ongoing, and separate investigations by federal law enforcement are also underway.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Ex-Trump Staffer To Lead Protest Against Prosecution Of Capitol Rioters

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Matt Braynard, who served as data chief for Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, has announced that he will host a rally on September 18 in support of people charged with crimes in connection with the rioting by Trump supporters at the U.S. Capitol on January 6.

In 2017, Braynard founded a nonprofit organization called Look Ahead America, which says on its website that its mission is to "register, educate, and enfranchise" the "rural and blue-collar patriotic Americans who are disaffected and disenfranchised from the nation's corridors of power."

He had announced on Steve Bannon's podcast in late July that he was organizing a "huge" rally to "push back on the phony narrative that there was an insurrection."

In a video posted to YouTube on Aug. 9, Braynard said that the event, which he is calling the "#JusticeforJ6 Rally," would be co-hosted by Cara Castronuova, a celebrity fitness trainer, conservative commentator, and co-founder of a nonprofit organization called Citizens Against Political Persecution.

Braynard teased a lineup of speakers that he said would be announced in the coming days. "These are people that you are going to be very excited to hear are joining their voices with ours and are going to be at the rally as part of our effort to raise awareness of this tragedy, of this grave violation of civil rights of hundreds of our fellow Americans," he said.

Braynard says that he has obtained a permit for the rally, which is to be held on the West Lawn of the Capitol, and a spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police Department told the Huffington Post that the permit was approved. A spokesperson for the Capitol Police confirmed to WUSA9 that they're aware of the rally.

More than 500 people have been charged with crimes by the Department of Justice for actions taken during the riot at the Capitol, as a result of which five people died. Since January 6, four Capitol Police officers who responded to the riot have died by suicide.

Braynard told Bannon in July that the protest was "largely peaceful" and that any violence happened in instances where protesters were "egged on in many cases by the Capitol Police."

Braynard kept a relatively low profile throughout the Trump presidency but reemerged in the aftermath of the 2020 election, when he began independently collecting voting data and, in collaboration with the Thomas More Society, a conservative legal organization with ties to Trump's legal team, claimed it proved there had been massive fraud.

Braynard's voting data was cited in multiple failed lawsuits filed by Trump lawyers and supporters in an attempt to overturn the election results.

In the months since January 6, Braynard has also been one of the leading conservative voices trying to reframe the narrative of the insurrection. He's been holding rallies in support of people arrested for their actions on January 6 all summer, including one at the D.C. Central Detention Facility on July 17 that drew about 100 people.

Braynard asked in his announcement on YouTube that attendees at the rally "be respectful and kind to all law enforcement officers who may be present. ... And if they ask you to do something, please do so."

Meanwhile, intelligence communities have warned that there remains a serious threat of violence from right-wing extremist groups. On August 6, ABC News shared a Department of Homeland Security bulletin that warned of "an increasing but modest level of activity online" by 2020 election, noting, "Some conspiracy theories associated with reinstating former President Trump have included calls for violence if desired outcomes are not realized."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.