On Thursday, the FBI denied reports that it is targeting Trump supporters ahead of the 2024 presidential elections.
Newsweek reported Wednesday that the FBI had created a category to evaluate threats known as anti-government and anti-authority violent extremism, which encompasses individuals who are deemed as threats, but don’t fall under anarchist, militia or sovereign citizen groups.
According to the outlet, more than a dozen current and former anonymous government officials said that the program primarily targets supporters of former President Donald Trump.
In a statement, the FBI denied the existence of this new designation, contesting the report and claiming it was false.
“Any allegation that the FBI targets individuals solely for their political beliefs is categorically false,” an FBI spokesperson said. “The FBI investigates those who commit acts of violence or threaten violence, and we do not take action based on political belief or any First Amendment protected activity.”
The spokesperson added that the “threat posed by domestic violent extremists is persistent, evolving, and deadly,” adding, “The FBI’s goal is to detect and stop terrorist attacks, and our focus is on potential criminal violations, violence, and threats of violence.”
“Anti-government or anti-authority violent extremism [AGAAVE] is one category of domestic terrorism, as well as one of the FBI’s top threat priorities,” the statement continued. “This threat includes anarchist violent extremists, militia violent extremists, sovereign citizen violent extremists, and other violent extremists — some of whom are motivated by a desire to harm those with a real or perceived association with a political party or faction.”
These extremists have allegedly “targeted both Republican and Democratic members of Congress,” the spokesperson said, without elaborating.
“We are committed to protecting the safety and constitutional rights of all Americans and will never open an investigation based solely on First Amendment protected activity, including a person’s political beliefs or affiliations,” it continued.
The Newsweek report said that neither Trump nor the Make America Great Again slogan were assigned to the aforementioned threat category, but claimed that unnamed “insiders” said that it applies to alleged “political violence ascribed to the former president’s supporters.”
While one intelligence official said that he believes that Trump’s supporters are the “greatest threat of violence domestically,” he allegedly then asked, “But whether Trump and his supporters are a threat to national security, to the country, whether they represent a threat of civil war? That’s a trickier question. And that’s for the country to deal with, not the FBI.”
The FBI has been steeped in allegations of “politicization and weaponization,” with FBI whistleblowers alleging earlier this year that the bureau’s top leaders were engaging in “serious abuse.”
“It is clear from these disclosures, and especially in the wake of Special Counsel John Durham’s report, that the FBI has become politically weaponized,” the report said.
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