The House of Representatives has canceled its Thursday session after law enforcement officials warned that a militia group could be plotting to breach the Capitol building on March 4, a day some online rumors have claimed would see former President Donald Trump restored to power.
The Capitol Police, the agency tasked with protecting the Capitol complex, said in a statement that it had obtained intelligence that “shows a possible plot to breach the Capitol by an identified militia group” on Thursday. The agency added that it is “aware of and prepared for any potential threats towards members of Congress or towards the Capitol complex,” with security upgrades in place to provide extra protection.
While police did not provide additional details about the intelligence, they said they’re working with local and federal law enforcement agencies to “stop any threats.” The agency was caught flat-footed and left embarrassed after protesters and rioters breached security lines on Jan. 6 and overran the Capitol. Several Capitol Police officials resigned following the breach.
A joint intelligence bulletin issued on March 2 by the Justice Department, FBI, and Department of Homeland Security, obtained by Axios (pdf), warned that some domestic violent extremists (DVE) may seek to target the Capitol complex on March 4.
“Some DVEs motivated by the QAnon conspiracy theory believe that the previous president will be inaugurated on March 4 or will return to power on May 20 with the help of the U.S. military,” the agencies said in the bulletin.
Also an unidentified group of militia violent extremists (MVE), which the agencies define as “individuals who seek, wholly or in part through unlawful acts of force or violence, to further their belief that the U.S. government is purposely exceeding its Constitutional authority and is attempting to establish a totalitarian regime,” discussed plans to take control of the Capitol on or around March 4, according to the bulletin.
“MVEs also have allegedly threatened an attack against the U.S. Capitol using explosives to kill as many members of Congress as possible during the upcoming State of the Union address,” the agencies warned. So far, no date has been set for President Joe Biden to deliver the customary State of the Union speech to Congress, a fact that has fed into online rumors questioning the legitimacy of his presidency.
On Tuesday, Acting House Sergeant at Arms Timothy Blodgett notified Congress members of a possible security threat spanning Thursday through Saturday, referring to “potential protests and demonstration activity surrounding what some have described as the ‘true Inauguration Day.'”
For nearly a century, U.S. presidents have been inaugurated on Jan. 20, including Biden, who took the oath of office on the grounds of the Capitol. Previously, March 4 had been the swearing-in date.
Following reports of the heightened threat levels, the office of House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Wednesday that all votes set for later this week would be wrapped up by Wednesday evening, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The Senate will convene as planned to begin debating Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19-relief bill on Thursday.
Reuters contributed to this report.