The storming of the U.S. Capitol last week has left millions of Americans wondering about the health of their democracy. Now imagine the damage if this is followed by political violence across the country leading up to the inauguration.
That’s the worry caused by an FBI warning about armed protests planned for all 50 states and the U.S. Capitol starting Jan. 16—with a threat of a “huge uprising” if President
is removed via the 25th amendment.
The warning comes via an internal FBI bulletin that reads in part: “On 8 January, the FBI received information on an identified group calling for others to join them in ‘storming’ state, local and federal government courthouses and administrative buildings in the event POTUS is removed as President prior to Inauguration Day. This identified group is also planning to ‘storm’ government offices including in the District of Columbia and in every state, regardless of whether the states certified electoral votes for
or Trump, on 20 January.”
It’s hard to know what to make of this without insight into the actors, but after last week governors, mayors and police will have to take it seriously. That means mobilizing the resources and manpower to keep law enforcement from being overwhelmed.
The moment also requires calls for restraint and nonviolence from both the left and right.
the second-ranking Republican in the House and himself a victim of a politically motivated shooter, makes his plea nearby for politicians to tone down rhetoric that can inspire violence.
President Trump still isn’t helping. On Tuesday he finally emerged in person for the first time since Wednesday and made no apologies for last week. He called his speech asking supporters to march to the Capitol “totally appropriate.” He did call for “no violence, never violence,” but he followed that with an attack on impeachment for “causing tremendous anger.”
His refusal to take personal responsibility may cause more House Republicans to vote to impeach him on Wednesday.
a Member of the GOP House leadership, said Tuesday she’ll vote to impeach. Violent protests before the inauguration could get Mr. Trump convicted in the Senate. Republicans need to divorce themselves from Mr. Trump’s behavior and demonstrate to voters appalled by last week’s events that political violence won’t be tolerated.
Democrats also have a duty to call on the political left to withdraw from street clashes. Many of the violent events of the summer in Portland and elsewhere occurred when antifa on the left challenged Proud Boys and others on the right. The zero tolerance for violent protest now popular among Democrats wasn’t their reaction during the summer.
As for Mr. Trump’s frustrated supporters, we’d never tell them not to exercise their constitutional right to protest. But they should understand that any violence in the streets is likely to be blamed on them, fairly or not. They’ll have ample time to oppose the Biden Administration in the coming years.
We hope the FBI warnings turn out to be mistaken. But in any case, the assault on the Capitol ought to be a turning point for Americans to unite around the idea that violence and lawlessness are wrong—no matter which political side is doing it.
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Appeared in the January 13, 2021, print edition.