The FBI has denied a Newsweek report from veteran journalist William Arkin claiming that the agency has created a special category of extremists to target Trump supporters ahead of the 2024 election.
According to Newsweek, the FBI created a category to evaluate threats for anti-government and/or anti-authority violent extremism for those who don't fall under an anarchist, militia or sovereign citizen groups. The report cited more than a dozen current and former officials who say that the program targets Trump supporters.
In a statement to the Epoch Times, however, the FBI denied the allegations.
"Any allegation that the FBI targets individuals solely for their political beliefs is categorically false," said the agency.
"The FBI investigates those who commit acts of violence or threaten violence, and we do not take action based on political belief or any First Amendment protected activity," the statement continues.
According to the spokesperson, the "threat posed by domestic violent extremists is persistent, evolving, and deadly," adding that "The FBI's goal is to detect and stop terrorist attacks, and our focus is on potential criminal violations, violence, and threats of violence."
"Anti-government or anti-authority violent extremism [AGAAVE] is one category of domestic terrorism, as well as one of the FBI's top threat priorities," the statement continues. "This threat includes anarchist violent extremists, militia violent extremists, sovereign citizen violent extremists, and other violent extremists—some of whom are motivated by a desire to harm those with a real or perceived association with a political party or faction."
Those so-called extremists "have targeted both Republican and Democratic members of Congress," the spokesperson said, without elaborating. "We are committed to protecting the safety and constitutional rights of all Americans and will never open an investigation based solely on First Amendment protected activity, including a person's political beliefs or affiliations," the statement said.
In the Newsweek report, neither President Trump nor his Make America Great Again (MAGA) slogan were assigned to the aforementioned threat category. The article, however, claimed that unnamed "insiders" said that it applies to alleged "political violence ascribed to the former president’s supporters." -Epoch Times
That said, one anonymous FBI official told Arkin that Trump supporters are the "greatest threat of violence domestically …politically … that’s the reality and the problem set."
"But whether Trump and his supporters are a threat to national security, to the country, whether they represent a threat of civil war? That's a trickier question. And that's for the country to deal with, not the FBI," the official continued.
According to the FBI's data leaked to Arkin, the number of domestic extremism cases has dropped since Jan 6, but that "Sociopolitical developments—such as narratives of fraud in the recent general election, the emboldening impact of the violent breach of the U.S. Capitol, conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and conspiracy theories promoting violence—will almost certainly spur some domestic terrorists to try to engage in violence."
So - while the threat that the FBI has encouraged agents to inflate may have fallen, they're on the lookout!