Washington – Law enforcement agencies were on high alert Thursday around the US Capitol after intelligence uncovered a “possible plot” by a militia group to raid the iconic building again, two months after a crowd of Donald Trump supporters broke windows and doors to try to stop now President Joe Biden’s certification of victory.
The threat appears to be related to a far-right fanciful theory, promoted mainly by QAnon supporters, that former President Trump will return to power on March 4 and that thousands will go to Washington DC to try to remove Democrats from office. March 4 was the original presidential inauguration day until 1933, when it was moved to January 20.
Authorities detected online exchanges between members of Three Percenters, an anti-government militia group, about possible plots against the Capitol on Thursday, according to two people familiar with the matter and who spoke on condition of anonymity. Members of the Three Percenters were among the extremists who stormed the Capitol on January 6.RELATED
New Jersey Democratic Rep. Andy Kim joined efforts to clean up the Capitol Rotunda early Thursday morning. (Andrew Harnik)
Employees cleaned the dust residue from the statuary pedestals in Statuary Hall, inside the Capitol. (SHAWN THEW)
South Carolina Republican Senator Tim Scott observes the damage inside the federal Capitol after the riots on Wednesday afternoon. (Andrew Harnik)
A federal employee cleans the area outside the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, one of which was invaded by the rioters. (J. Scott Applewhite)
Maintenance workers cleaned the exterior of the Capitol, which the morning after Wednesday’s violent riot looked peaceful. (Julio Cortez)
Agents from the Secret Service assault team were inspecting the capitol rotunda once they and other law enforcement units controlled violent protesters loyal to President Donald Trump who stormed the Capitol until late Wednesday night. (J. Scott Applewhite)
A National Guard soldier stands guard on a quiet Capitol as maintenance workers erected a security fence around the perimeter. (John Minchillo)
On Wednesday afternoon, protesters loyal to President Donald Trump responded to his call to go to the Capitol, where they soon turned violent. (Jose Luis Magana)
One of the first manifestations of violence and damage was suffered by members of the press who had been covering the incidents since Wednesday afternoon. (Jose Luis Magana)
The threat emerged as Capitol police and other security agencies were criticized in congressional hearings for their failed response to the January 6 riots. Police were ill-prepared for violent Trump supporters, and even National Guard reinforcements took hours to arrive. By then, the mob had broken in and roamed the corridors for hours.
The guard in charge of the security of the legislative palace warned in a statement that “it is aware and prepared for any potential threat to members of Congress or to the Capitol complex.”
Legislators, congressional staff and law enforcement authorities are still nervous after the January 6 attack, although security around the Capitol remains at an unprecedented level.