US warns of ‘heightened threat’ to midterm elections

Politics

A San Francisco Police Department vehicle parks outside the home of Paul Pelosi, the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in San Francisco, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022. David DePape, accused of breaking into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s California home and severely beating her husband with a hammer appears to have made racist and often rambling posts online, including some that questioned the results of the 2020 election, defended former President Donald Trump and echoed QAnon conspiracy theories. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

(NewsNation) — The violent attack on Paul Pelosi, the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has put the safety of lawmakers in the spotlight.

Threats have grown worse in recent years as official data from the United States Capitol Police shows almost 10,000 threats to Congressional members last year alone. That is almost two times the average number from years before.

According to data provided by the Capitol Police, a law enforcement agency charged with protecting members of Congress, cases related to “concerning statements and threats” jumped from 3,939 in 2017 to 9,625 in 2021, a 144% rise.

The attempted homicide of Pelosi in San Francisco came as the FBI and Department of Homeland Security issued a report warning of lone offenders and small groups of individuals driven to violence due to political beliefs or personal grievances.

CBS News reported the U.S. government warned of a “heightened threat” to the midterm contests, fueled by a rise in domestic violent extremism, or DVE.

“Potential targets of DVE violence include candidates running for public office, elected officials, election workers, political rallies, political party representatives, racial and religious minorities, or perceived ideological opponents,” the bulletin cited by CBS News states. 

Those threats are being seen firsthand as Pelosi recovers at the hospital from a skull fracture.

Rep. Lee Zelden, R-N.Y., was recently attacked by a man at a campaign event in New York during his gubernatorial race, and on Friday, a man pleaded guilty to threatening to kill Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif.

A Kansas man is also facing a felony charge of threatening to kill one of the state’s congressmen, Republican Jake LaTurner.

“This is what happens when that extreme rhetoric gets out of control,” Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said about ongoing threats against lawmakers.

On Saturday, the attack on Pelosi was discussed on the campaign trail.

First Lady Jill Biden hoped Paul Pelosi would make a quick recovery.

“I also wanted to ask you, on a more serious note,” she said. “if you could just please keep Paul and Nancy Pelosi in your prayers.”

Stumping in Michigan, former Presdient Barack Obama said, “When we don’t just disagree with people, but we start demonizing them, making wild crazy allegations about them, that creates a dangerous climate.”

Moving forward, U.S. Capitol Police investigators say they will review security for Congressional leadership as concerns over their safety continue.

However, on Saturday, a federal judge turned down a request for a restraining order against an Arizona group that has been accused of voter intimidation.

The judge ruled that the group that has shown up with guns and bulletproof vests can continue to monitor outdoor ballot boxes in Arizona.

The judge noted how the case brings up serious questions of intimidation and safety, but said any rule barring them from being there could violate their Constitutional rights.

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