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New threats of a second attack on the US Capitol loom over lawmakers ahead of Trump’s second impeachment trial

Chris Riotta
·2-min read
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer greets National Guard soldiers (EPA)
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer greets National Guard soldiers (EPA)

A surge in threats against lawmakers and the US Capitol have forced National Guard troops to remain in Washington ahead of former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial.

The troops will remain on Capitol Hill as the US Senate trial begins on 8 February, marking the first time in American history in which a former president has faced an impeachment trial after leaving office. The House voted to impeach Mr Trump for fomenting a deadly insurrection at the Capitol as Congress convened to certify his electoral defeat in the 2020 elections, citing his speech held just before the deadly attacks and conduct during the riots, which left at least five people dead, including United States Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick.

Officials have since begun preparing for a potential second attack on the Capitol as the impeachment trial begins, the Associated Press reported on Sunday, and were examining violent threats targeting lawmakers as they entered the building, though the credibility of such threats remained unknown.

Estimates have indicated as many as 5,000 to 7,000 National Guard troops could remain in Washington through February — a significant reduction from the nearly 20,000 troops stationed in the nation’s capital during President Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremonies last week.

Mr Biden was still sworn in on the footsteps of the Capitol, where just two weeks prior his predecessor’s extremist supporters were attacking security officials and breaching the walls of government.

At least 130 people currently faced federal charges for their alleged involvement in the Capitol riots, as the FBI and other federal agencies seek information and further evidence while carrying out numerous investigations into the deadly incident.

The FBI previously said in a statement it had received more than 100,000 pieces of digital evidence submitted from across the country about people who allegedly took part in the attacks.

Some of those included people who allegedly made death threats against lawmakers, including a Texas man facing five criminal charges for his role in the riots. According to court documents, Garret Miller seemingly referred to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in a tweet when he wrote: “Assassinate AOC.”

His lawyer has since said the comment was made “in the heat of the moment”.

Lawmakers like Ms Ocasio Cortez, a New York Democrat, have since suggested they do not feel safe returning to work, citing the numerous threats while raising questions about whether any of their Republican counterparts were somehow involved in the coordination of the 6 January riots.

The Capitol Police department is currently investigating whether any lawmakers gave rioters tours of the building or played a role in fomenting the attacks.

Federal investigations are also underway into Parler, the Twitter-like social media platform popular among right-wing users, which has been accused of playing a role in the riots. The company has reportedly provided information to the FBI on users allegedly involved in the attacks.

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