US police uncover possible militia plot to breach Capitol on Thursday

Capitol Police say intel shows potential plans to storm complex on March 4, when far-right conspiracy claims Trump will again rise to power

Rioters loyal to US President Donald Trump storm the US Capitol in Washington, January 6, 2020. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)
Rioters loyal to US President Donald Trump storm the US Capitol in Washington, January 6, 2020. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The US Capitol Police said they have intelligence showing there is a “possible plot” by a militia group to breach the US Capitol on Thursday.

The revelation was detailed in a statement Wednesday from the Capitol Police. It came at the same time the acting police chief was testifying before a House subcommittee.

“The United States Capitol Police Department is aware of and prepared for any potential threats towards members of Congress or towards the Capitol complex,” the agency said in a statement. “We have obtained intelligence that shows a possible plot to breach the Capitol by an identified militia group on Thursday, March 4.”

The statement differed from an advisory that was sent to members of Congress by the acting House sergeant-at-arms this week, saying that Capitol Police had “no indication that groups will travel to Washington DC to protest or commit acts of violence.”

Insurrectionist supporters of US President Donald Trump are confronted by US Capitol Police officers outside the Senate Chamber inside the Capitol in Washington, January 6, 2021. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

The threat comes nearly two months after thousands of supporters of then-president Donald Trump stormed the US Capitol in a violent insurrection as Congress was voting to certify Joe Biden’s electoral win. So far, about 300 people have been charged with federal crimes for their roles in the riot. Five people, including a Capitol Police officer, died.

Capitol Police say that they have stepped up security around the Capitol complex since January’s insurrection, adding physical security measures such as the fencing topped with razor wire around the Capitol and members of the National Guard who remain at the complex. The statement said the agency was “taking the intelligence seriously” but provided no other specific details on the threat.

The threat appeared to be connected to a far-right conspiracy theory, mainly promoted by supporters of QAnon, that Trump will rise again to power on March 4, which was the original presidential inauguration day, until 1933, when it was moved to January 20.

Supporters of US President Donald Trump, including Jake Angeli (aka Jacob Chansley), a QAnon supporter, enter the Capitol in Washington, DC, on January 6, 2021. (Saul Loeb/AFP)

Thousands of accounts that promoted the January 6 event that led to a violent storming of the US Capitol have since been suspended by major tech companies like Facebook and Twitter, making it far more difficult for QAnon and far-right groups to organize a repeat of the mass gathering on Thursday.

Twitter banned more than 70,000 accounts after the riots, while Facebook and Instagram removed posts mentioning “stop the steal,” a pro-Trump rallying cry used to mobilize his supporters in January. And the conservative social media platform Parler, which many of Trump’s supporters joined to promote false election fraud conspiracy theories and encourage friends to “storm” the Capitol on January 6, was booted off the internet following the siege.

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