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Ahead of elections, DHS warns of conspiracy-driven violence

The brutal attack at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s home was appalling, and as Election Day approaches, DHS is warning about additional, related violence.


Last week’s brutal attack at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s home was appalling, but as Election Day approaches, there’s reason to be concerned about additional, related violence. NBC News reported:

U.S. law enforcement has circulated bulletins warning that conspiracy theorists could become violent around the midterm elections on Nov. 8. The bulletins, obtained by NBC News, are unclassified but intended only for law enforcement. One of the bulletins, issued Friday by the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and the National Counterterrorism Center, and marked “for official use only,” warned about domestic violent extremism, or DVE in law enforcement circles.

“We assess that election-related perceptions of fraud and DVE reactions to divisive topics will likely drive sporadic DVE plotting of violence and broader efforts to justify violence in the lead up to and following the 2022 midterm election cycle,” the bulletin said.

It added that violence is most likely to come from those who believe discredited conspiracy theories about election fraud — suggesting the threat is more acute on the political right, where election-related lies are increasingly the norm.

NBC News’ report added that the federal bulletin to law enforcement dovetailed with a related report from the New York Police Department’s Intelligence Bureau, which also raised concerns about possible violence from those who embrace election conspiracy theories.

“From mid-September to early October, users across extreme-right, ultranationalist, and QAnon extremist forums called for adherents to become ‘poll challengers’ and encouraged violence, intimidation tactics, and the sabotage of voting machines, if they believed they witnessed ‘fraud’ and ‘cheating’ at the polls,” the NYPD bulletin said.

Obviously, people of good will can hope that these threats never come to fruition, and that the election season does not lead to any additional violence. It’s difficult, however, to just look past the bulletins as overly dire — especially as Paul Pelosi remains in intensive care.

Indeed, as officials disseminate and receive warnings like these, common sense suggests Republicans should recognize the conditions they’re helping create. Many of the GOP’s leading voices have pushed — and are pushing — ridiculous election conspiracy theories, even as the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies alert law enforcement to the fact that ridiculous election conspiracy theories are fueling the risk of possible violence.

For all the talk about “both sides” contributing to the problem, it’s not Democrats fueling the conspiratorial nonsense.

What’s more, as regular readers know, there’s only one party that appears eager to downplay the significance of the threat posed by domestic violent extremists. Rep. Jim Jordan, the Ohio Republican who’ll likely soon chair the House Judiciary Committee, has accused FBI leaders of trying to exaggerate the domestic violent extremist threat — and Jordan’s efforts are poised to intensify after the midterm elections.