The FBI has intelligence that pro-Donald Trump supporters are planning armed protests in 50 state capitals around the time of Joe Biden’s inauguration, according to reports.
The agency received information about an “identified armed group intending to travel to Washington DC on 16 January”, according to a briefing obtained by ABC News.
Warning of a potential “uprising” if the president was removed from office prematurely, the FBI said groups were calling for the “storming” of state, local, and federal government courthouses and administrative buildings if Congress attempts to enact the 25th Amendment prior to Inauguration Day.
Far-right social media users have discussed actions tied to January 20 for months, but the storming of the US Capitol “energised” the online chatter, said Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League.
Mr Greenblatt, whose organisation tracks hate groups, said that among the online posts were those by a group calling itself the “Million Militia March,” which had issued calls to action on a new social media platform called Wimkin.
Muriel Bowser, Washington DC mayor, has said she was “extremely concerned” about security at the inauguration and called for much tighter security following the storming of the House of Congress last week.
“We believe strongly that the 59th Presidential Inauguration will require a very different approach than previous inaugurations given the chaos, injury, and death experienced at the United States Capitol during the insurrection,” Ms Bowser wrote in a letter to Chad Wolf, the Acting Secretary at the Department of Homeland Security.
Ms Bowser said the city was submitting a request for a “pre-disaster declaration” to allow for federal assistance and asked Mr Wolf to cancel public gathering permits through January 24.
It also emerged that members of the House Armed Services Committee have made an unusual request that the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command review the some 15,000 troops National Guard troops set to be deployed for the inauguration “to ensure that deployed members are not sympathetic to domestic terrorists.”
“(Army Secretary Ryan) McCarthy indicated that the DoD (Department of Defense) is aware of further possible threats posed by would-be terrorists in the days up to and including Inauguration Day and is working with local and federal law enforcement to coordinate security preparations,” according Representative Jason Crow of the Committee, who released a readout of their meeting.
Police departments across the country are looking into whether any of their officers were involved in last Wednesday’s riot on Capitol Hill.
Departments in California, Washington state, New York and Texas are among those that have announced investigations into their officers based on tips, social media posts and other evidence.
In Seattle, Interim Police Chief Adrian Diaz confirmed at least two officers had been placed on administrative leave and referred to internal reviews.
The army is also currently investigating Emily Rainey, 30, psychological operations officer at Fort Bragg who led a group of people from North Carolina to the rally in Washington.
Ms Rainey said she led 100 members of Moore County Citizens for Freedom, which describes itself online as a non-partisan network promoting conservative values, to Washington to “stand against election fraud” and support Mr Trump. She said the group attended the rally but she did not know of anyone who entered the Capitol.