The Capitol Police force is preparing for another assault on the Capitol building on Thursday after obtaining intelligence of a potential plot by a militia group, reports the New York Times. In response to the news, House leaders on Wednesday abruptly moved a vote on policing legislation from Thursday to Wednesday night, so lawmakers could leave town. The potential threat is inspired by Qanon, a pro-Trump conspiracy theory movement that some members of which see March 4—the original inauguration date set in the Constitution—as the day Donald J. Trump would be restored to the presidency and renew his crusade against America’s enemies. Some federal officials downplayed the threat raised by an unnamed militia group and even many influential QAnon followers have cast March 4 as a “deep state” plot to incite the movement’s adherents and provoke a nationwide crackdown.
However, after the chaos and fallout following the January 6 riot, Capitol police and members of Congress are taking no chances. The perimeter of the Capitol had already been ringed with new fencing, topped with razor wire. The Capitol Police said the agency is now reaching out to local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to prepare further. While they felt it was unlikely that an organized militia group would be able to execute the kind of attack on the Capitol described in the Capitol Police bulletin, particularly given the fortifications around Washington, they did not rule out the possibility that “lone wolf” attackers could try to wreak havoc. Yogananda D. Pittman, the acting chief of the Capitol Police, said threats against lawmakers had risen nearly 94 percent in the first two months of the year compared with the first two months of 2020. The Capitol Police are asking for almost $620 million for the agency’s budget, an increase of nearly 21 percent over current levels, to pay for new equipment, training and an additional 212 officers for assignments such as a permanent backup force to respond to events like the Jan. 6 riot.