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Feds told of twice as many threats against lawmakers, mostly posted online: Report

October 12, 2018

Federal authorities are receiving roughly twice as many requests to investigate threats made against lawmakers than they were a few years ago, according to a Justice Department official handling cases in D.C.

Kenneth Kohl, deputy chief of the national security section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for D.C, said his office is averaging roughly 10 requests a week involving threats received by lawmakers, up from approximately five or six requests a week only three years earlier, a local NBC affiliate reported Thursday.

The majority of the messages brought to the attention of federal prosecutors are posted online or through other electronic means, the station reported.

“We don’t prosecute people for merely engaging in heated political rhetoric,” Mr. Kohl said. “The words must be intended as a true threat.”

U.S. Capitol Police, a federal law enforcement agency tasked with protecting parts of D.C., including areas surrounding Congress, previously said its officers investigated 950 threat-related cases during the first half of 2017, up from 902 during all of 2016.

Matthew Verderosa, the chief of U.S. Capitol Police, asked the government for more funding after last year’s uptick in threats was publicly revealed last summer in the aftermath of a gunman opening fire at a congressional baseball game practice, seriously injuring House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, Louisiana Republican.

“I believe that in the environment in which we operate, it will be necessary to provide increased coverage for member events going forward,” he told the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee at the time. “Around the world and even in the shadow of the Capitol Dome, we are seeing the nature of threats changing.”

U.S. Capitol Police declined to provide data for 2018, the NBC affiliate reported.

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