A threat to the Capitol that led the House of Representatives to cancel Thursday's meeting was thankfully nothing.
Capitol police warned Wednesday that they "received information indicating a possible plan to breach the Capitol on Thursday March 4th by an unidentified militia group". That finding was corroborated by Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), the Republican leader on Homeland Security, who said on CNN on Wednesday: “President Trump has a responsibility to tell you to resign. This threat is believable. It is real. It's a right-wing militia group. "
Rep Michael McCaul says fmr. Pres. Trump has a responsibility to call on extremists who believe Trump will be inaugurated on March 4th and who, according to the FBI, are planning a possible attack on the U.S. Capitol, to resign. “This threat is credible. It is real. "Https://t.co/txZq2tbwMH pic.twitter.com/n4X4WbwTIo
– The Lead CNN (@TheLeadCNN) March 3, 2021
Trump didn't tell anyone to resign, but luckily everything was quiet in the Capitol on Thursday anyway, where the Senate held a 1.9 Covid-19 relief bill despite the House's decision to close for that day Trillion dollars started.
March 4th marks a landmark date in QAnon – a cult, insane conspiracy theory that believes Donald Trump is secretly fighting a global child trafficking cabal led by prominent Democrats. Nicole Narea of Vox explains in great detail the fixation of the theory on March 4th, but in brief: Some believers believed that March 4th, which was the date on which the presidents pending the passage of the 20th Amendment Inaugurated in 1933, the time would be when Trump would be inaugurated for another term. The Trump International Hotel, just blocks from the White House, even tried to capitalize on conspiracy theory by increasing room rates for the date.
But Jared Holt told Vox that he "hasn't found any of the usual statements that we tend to see when online extremism translates into real mobilization before March 4th". Holt is a DFRLab-based fellow studying domestic extremism. In the days leading up to the January 6 riot, he rightly warned against internet chatters, suggesting pro-Trump demonstrations could get out of hand that day.
"In the past few days, many extremist influencers and communities have actively advised against participating in possible actions on this date," Holt continued in a Twitter direct message. "While large-scale mobilization through standard measures was incredibly unlikely, there was still an ever-present risk from small groups or individuals who may feel compelled to act on their extremist beliefs."
Holt noted that the House's decision to close for the day and all security around the Capitol "may seem like an overkill," the January 6 riot that killed five people still to law enforcement and me is incredibly fresh. I am not surprised that the officers act with great caution. "
Indeed, law enforcement officials appeared to be trying to avoid repeating what happened on Jan. 6, when numerous intelligence notes warned of the threat of violence from Trump supporters who gathered in Washington DC to oppose the election on that January Day to protest did not do enough to prevent law enforcement from being overwhelmed by the MAGA mob.
While law enforcement officials are especially cautious these days, it is Republicans who sparked the insurrection by spreading lies about the 2020 election. On Thursday, Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL) and Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) – both backing Trump's efforts to overthrow the election – walked on Fox & Friends, arguing that despite the active threat at the Capitol, they saw no need for the continued presence of the National Guard.
"I think the idea of keeping (the National Guard) there indefinitely and keeping a barbed wire fence around the Capitol indefinitely is insane," Hawley said.
On the day the house closes on threats of violence, Senator Josh Hawley railed against riots against National Guard forces stationed at the Capitol pic.twitter.com/LIjTKmzbFU
– Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 4, 2021
But if Trump-supporting Republicans really wanted to reopen the Capitol, the best they can do is denounce the lies and conspiracy theories about the 2020 election that continue to inspire troubled Trump supporters to take matters into their own hands. Instead, however, the Republican Party largely remains united in the misconception that Joe Biden's victory was tainted.
While Republicans like Hawley and Waltz see no need for the continued National Guard presence in the Capitol, the Capitol Police disagree. The force reportedly asked the National Guard on Thursday to stay at the Capitol for at least two more months, citing ongoing security concerns. That request came the day after a House hearing at which the acting chief of the Capitol Police, Yogananda Pittman, told lawmakers that threats against lawmakers have increased nearly 100 percent year over year.