March 4 (UPI) — U.S. Capitol Police on Wednesday warned of a possible security threat to the Capitol planned for the following day, forcing the House of Representatives to scrap its Thursday session.
In a statement on Wednesday, U.S. Capitol Police warned it has “obtained intelligence that shows a possible plot to breach the Capitol by an identified militia group on Thursday, March 4.”
It said due to “the sensitive nature” of the information, it can’t provide additional details, including the name of the identified militia group.
“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,” Capitol Police said.
In response, the House of Representatives decided to hold all votes on Wednesday night though the Senate will continue with planned discussions of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package on Thursday.
Richard Durbin, D-Ill., the Senate majority whip, told reporters on Wednesday that the two congressional houses operate on the same information but can come to different conclusions, The Washington Post reported.
“I’m not going to second guess Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi, she’s doing what she thinks is best for the House,” he said. “Obviously, at this point, Senator Schumer’s not reached the same conclusion.
The Capitol Police warning was published as security officials testified before a joint hearing of the Senate homeland security and rules committees concerning security failures before, during and after the Jan. 6 breach of the Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump who attempted to stop the certification of Biden’s election win, resulting in the deaths of five people.
Melissa Smislova, acting undersecretary of the Office of Intelligence and Analysis at the Department of Homeland Security, told the joint hearing that her department late Tuesday had issued an intelligence bulletin with the FBI about the Thursday threat, stating it concerned “extremists discussing March 4th and March 6th” and that the threat to the Capitol was ongoing.
Yogananda Pittman, acting chief of U.S. Capitol Police, also told a House appropriations hearing on the force’s budget, that they do have “some concerning intelligence” regarding threats against the Capitol that she would be inappropriate to divulge in public.
“But we have enhanced our security posture. We’ve taken immediate steps to let the national guard as well as our workforce know what to expect tomorrow and going forward,” she said.
The warnings are in line with a rare bulletin published by the Department of Homeland Security in late January that said “a heightened threat environment across the United States “would persist in the weeks following the successful Presidential Inauguration on Jan. 20.
“Ideologically motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives, could continue to mobilize to incite or commit violence,” the National Terrorism Advisory System bulletin said.
Though the Capitol Police did not mention who is planning the Thursday plot, the Anti-Defamation League said some followers of the QAnon conspiracy view March 4 as the day that former President Donald Trump will be inaugurated as it was inauguration day prior to Franklin Roosevelt’s second terms.
Born on the Internet and popular with some Trump supporters, QAnon casts the former president as the man who will bring world elites maintaining a Satanic child-murdering sex cult” to justice.
Trump was impeached early this year on an article of inciting the mob by spreading false claims in an attempt to discredit the November presidential election. The former president was later acquitted by the Senate.
On Sunday, during his first public speech since leaving the White House, Trump reiterated those same false claims that he in fact beat Biden while hinting he may run again in 2024.