Top law enforcement officials to testify on domestic violent extremism
Attorney General Merrick Garland and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas are set to testify in front of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday at a hearing centered around the domestic violent extremist threat facing the country.
Both are expected to highlight new initiatives put forward by their respective departments as they push lawmakers to approve $100 million of additional funds in President Joe Biden's budget request dedicated to addressing rising domestic terrorism threats.
On Tuesday, Mayorkas established a domestic terrorism branch in the DHS Office of Intelligence & Analysis and established the Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships, which is an effort to combat terrorism and targeted violence. DHS previously used Federal Emergency Management Agency grants to combat domestic terrorism by having each recipient allocate at least 7% toward combatting domestic terrorism.
"Domestic violent extremism poses the most lethal and persistent terrorism-related threat to our country today," Mayorkas said in an April statement.
In March, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security released a report that outlined a threat assessment of domestic violent extremists, finding that attacks by such persons could be "elevated" this year.
According to prepared remarks, Garland will speak Wednesday about his experience overseeing the investigation into the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah federal buiilding (also known as the Oklahoma City bombing) and how the terrorism the country witnessed that day in 1995 has a direct line to some of the threats the homeland now faces.
"The horror of domestic violent extremism is still with us," Garland is expected to say, while noting the FBI's assessment that the top domestic terrorism threat facing the country comes from racially motivated violent extremists -- specifically white supremacists.
Garland's opening statement is also expected to address what he describes as the "heinous attack" and "intolerable assault" on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, which sparked one of the largest DOJ investigations in its history. As of this week, Garland said more than 430 arrests have been made in connection with the insurrection amid investigations that span "almost the entire country."
Garland is also expected to note the DOJ's focus on the rise in hate crimes in recent years -- including attacks targeting the AAPI community since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Hate crimes have no place in our society, and the Department, led by our Civil Rights Division, is committed to prosecuting those who commit them," Garland plans to say.