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But Kinzinger — whose prominent role on the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, uprising has made him a reviled figure on the right and no stranger to such violent threats. — was advised by some of his GOP colleagues, who also voted to impeach Donald Trump, to take the matter to the FBI as an added precaution, sources said.

This is just the latest sign of how seriously the threat of political violence is being taken by Capitol lawmakers as the select committee publicly reveals the findings of its nearly year-long investigation into the Jan. 6 riot. Committee members say they are taking additional security measures – including asking for security details, which several lawmakers have already been assigned – amid heightened concerns about their safety as public hearings unfold .

Kinzinger acknowledged that he had stepped up his personal safety efforts, although he declined to go into further detail, saying, “We are making efforts to protect ourselves.” In recent days, he’s been spotted with a security detail in tow.

US Capitol police do not automatically provide security for members, even if they request it, a source familiar with the process told CNN. Members can request an open-source review of publicly available information for the USCP to review, but the USCP makes its own calculations on which members benefit from security based on active violent threats.

“It’s always a concern for people… For some members it’s a relatively new experience. For other members it’s an old experience. So we have a spectrum on the committee, but we we are all committed to ensuring that everyone involved in this process is safe,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Democrat from Maryland who serves on the select committee. “And we’re extremely concerned about making sure the brave witnesses who present themselves can do so in complete safety.”

New analysis shared with CNN by Advance Democracy, a nonprofit that conducts public interest investigations, has found that calls for violence against Jan. 6 committee members have been circulating on some of the same online platforms. who helped fuel the lies that led to the insurgency. . Users of these platforms openly call for the execution of committee members, with GOP Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, vice chair of the select committee, appearing to be a specific target.

Kinzinger told CNN he listened to a voicemail Wednesday morning with another death threat. He also said that while everyone on the select committee was dealing with security issues, he and Cheney in particular had become big targets.

But Kinzinger said his biggest concern was what it means for the ‘body politic’ that people feel comfortable threatening violence – which coincidentally has been one of the central themes. of their investigation.

The select committee sought to draw a direct link between Trump’s actions and the January 6 violence when a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, endangering then-Vice President Mike Pence. . The hearings also featured testimony from state officials and election workers who received threats and harassment because of Trump’s election lies.

“It’s not just us, but everyone in the country — there’s an increased threat,” Kinzinger said. “That’s what concerns me, that one day someone takes it to the next level.”

In Trump’s second impeachment trial, House impeachment officials were assigned security duty. A similar arrangement could be made for the nine members of the select committee, but that has not been decided, according to a separate source familiar with the matter.

If members want security that the USCP will not provide, they can pay for security personnel through their membership fee. The budget for security expenditures, such as life security, has recently increased by 21% as part of the 2022 finance bill.

Assigning more police to protect lawmakers while they’re in Washington, DC, could put additional strain on an already understaffed law enforcement agency. CNN has previously reported that June represents a particularly challenging month for DC-area law enforcement tasked with handling major events, Supreme Court seismic advisories and security surrounding the January 6 hearings.

Capitol Police relied on local law enforcement partners such as the Baltimore police and agencies serving Alexandria, Virginia. A source told CNN that Capitol Police asked nearby Montgomery County police to possibly help, but they were unable to do so. The agency is narrowly focused on protecting Supreme Court justices in its jurisdiction, the source said.

Manpower remains the biggest issue for Capitol Police, who continue to say they are hundreds of officers short of where they need to be.

In addition to receiving security details, there are other examples of how members have had to adapt to the heightened threat environment. Cheney, perhaps the most high-profile member of the panel, had to consider security concerns when planning major campaign events, sources said. She has had a security detail since last year when she voted to impeach Trump and continued to expose his election lies.

The 10 Cheney Republicans who voted to impeach Trump have also found themselves under threat, though it has fluctuated since the height of the impeachment last year. Retired Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan said he needs to improve security at his district office and has plainclothes police with him when he attends some local events.

“You’re just being careful,” Upton said. “When they call your office or your house, like they did to me, it’s scary. And it’s real.”

Representative Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, the Democratic chairman of the select committee who began receiving a security detail just before the hearings began, said it has become the new normal. There has been a 144% increase in member-related threats and suspicious behavior toward lawmakers over the past five years, with nearly 10,000 cases last year alone, according to Capitol Police statistics.

“You know, since January 6, the environment is different here on Capitol Hill. And we get periodic briefings from Capitol Police and others about caution,” Thompson said. “And it’s such a shame that it’s the kind of environment, but after January 6, it’s not the same.”


Cnn

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