Biden asks agencies for threat assessment on domestic terrorism after deadly Capitol riot


President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee to be Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines speaks at his transition headquarters in the Queen Theater in Wilmington, Delaware, November 24, 2020.

Joshua Roberts | Reuters

President Joe Biden asked his intelligence chief to launch a “comprehensive threat assessment” into domestic terrorism in the wake of the deadly Capitol riot, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday.

The invasion of the Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump “underscored what we have long known: The rise of domestic violent extremism is a serious and growing national security threat,” Psaki said at a press briefing.

Biden asked the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, led by his newly confirmed pick Avril Haines, to coordinate with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security to gather fact-based analysis from across the government on domestic violent extremism, Psaki said.

A man calls on people to raid the building as Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as they try to storm the US Capitol building in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021.

Joseph Prezioso | AFP | Getty Images

The Biden administration is “committed to developing policies and strategies” based on that analysis, bearing in mind “our respect for constitutionally respected free speech and political activities,” she said.

“This is the first step in the process,” she noted.

The administration is also working to boost the National Security Council’s ability to counter domestic extremism, Psaki said, adding that other parts of the government will coordinate to “enhance and accelerate” efforts to address those threats.

The White House did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for additional information.

The Jan. 6 break-in at the Capitol left five dead, including a U.S. Capitol Police officer, and forced a joint session of Congress to evacuate, halting the confirmation of Biden’s Electoral College victory over Trump.

At a rally outside the White House just before the attack, Trump had urged his followers to march to the Capitol to pressure GOP lawmakers to overturn Biden’s win.

The House impeached Trump for inciting the insurrection. Now out of office, he still faces a Senate trial, which Democrats hope will end with him being barred from running for president again.

The House will send the article of impeachment to the Senate on Monday, kicking off the process for Trump’s second trial for high crimes and misdemeanors.

Asked at Friday’s presser if the administration believes the rise in domestic terrorism requires a radical rethinking of law enforcement, Psaki said that the priority of the assessment itself shows that “clearly more needs to be done.”

Psaki said the White House has also tapped former counterterrorism aide Joshua Geltzer to work with Clare Linkins, Biden’s senior director for counterterrorism, to “pioneer a scoping effort” in the first 100 days of the administration.

Geltzer did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

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