WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Capitol Police Department says it’s increasing security after obtaining “intelligence that shows a possible plot to breach the Capitol by an identified militia group on Thursday, March 4.”
In a statement released Wednesday, the department said it’s aware of and prepared for any potential threats towards members of Congress or towards the Capitol complex.
“We have already made significant security upgrades to include establishing a physical structure and increasing manpower to ensure the protection of Congress, the public and our police officers,” wrote the department.
Authorities have been bolstering security in response to a popular internet conspiracy theory that’s based on people believing that former President Donald Trump will be inaugurated on March 4.
The agency said in a statement on Tuesday that there is “concerning information and intelligence pertaining to March 4.”
“Based on the intelligence that we have, the Department has taken immediate steps to enhance our security posture and staffing for a number of days, to include March 4th. The Department has communicated our enhanced posture as well as the available intelligence for the entire workforce," the statement said.
The conspiracy theory suggests that Trump will become the president on March 4, as until 1933, March 4 was the quadrennial date for the presidential inauguration. The 20th Amendment moved the date to January 20, which was when Joe Biden was inaugurated.
In late January, the National Guard announced that 5,000 National Guard troops would remain at the Capitol through mid-March.
There has been a continuous National Guard presence since the Jan. 6 insurrection when a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol to interrupt the counting of Electoral College votes. The mob was fueled by false conspiracy theories suggesting that Biden had stolen the election from Trump. Dozens of court rulings, some from judges appointed by Trump, were thrown out.
Following the Jan. 6 insurrection, there has been a focus by both law enforcement and social media companies to stop the spread of misinformation. Social media companies Twitter and Facebook suspended Trump from their platforms, accusing the president of spreading conspiracy theories that fueled the Jan. 6 insurrection.
“For years, far-right extremist and hate groups have increasingly used social media to spread dangerous messaging and coordinate violence. Despite constant warnings to tech companies about the dangers of these groups, those companies chose to allow users to post whatever content they pleased, no matter the potential repercussions. The only goal for tech companies was profit,” said Margaret Huang, president and CEO of Southern Poverty Law Center. “It was only when violent insurrectionists stormed the Capitol, killing and injuring many, that tech companies finally decided to change their tune and deplatform some people. But that was far too late.”
On Tuesday, FBI Director Christpher Wray, a Trump appointee, said there has been a rise in domestic extremism.
“Domestic violent extremism, domestic terrorism, that number is now has grown steadily on my watch,” Wray said. “So we've increased the number of domestic terrorism investigations from around a thousand or so when I got here to up to about 1,400 at the end of last year to about 2,000 now."