House cancels Thursday votes as police warn of possible threat to Capitol by militia group

U.S. & World

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — The U.S. Capitol Police Department has obtained intelligence that suggests a militia group is plotting to potentially breach the Capitol building on Thursday.

The department announced Wednesday that they’ve increased security, and that the agency is “prepared for any potential threats toward members of Congress or towards the Capitol complex.”

“We have obtained intelligence that shows a possible plot to breach the Capitol by an identified militia group on Thursday, March 4,” the department wrote in a statement. “We have already made significant security upgrades to include establishing a physical structure and increasing manpower to ensure the protection of Congress, the public and our police officers.”

In light of the threats, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced all House votes would be canceled for the remainder of the week.

Officers are working with local, state and federal agencies to prevent any future threats to the Capitol, the department said.

Capitol police couldn’t release any further details about the alleged plot, the militia group or security preparations due to the “sensitive nature of this information.”

“We are taking the intelligence seriously,” the department said.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Capitol Police Department released a statement saying it was “aware of concerning information and intelligence pertaining to March 4th.” Based on the intelligence, the agency took immediate steps to enhance its security posture and staffing for a number of days, to include March 4th,” the department said.

Thousands of National Guard troops are still patrolling the Capitol after supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the federal building on Jan. 6. Five people died as a result of the rioting.

Multiple committees across Congress are launching investigations into mistakes made on Jan. 6. The acting chief of the U.S. Capitol Police is testifying before a House subcommittee Wednesday.

The threat Thursday appears to be connected to a far-right conspiracy theory, mainly promoted by supporters of QAnon, that Trump will rise again to power on March 4, which was the original presidential inauguration day, until 1933, when it was moved to Jan. 20.

An advisory sent earlier this week to members of Congress by Timothy Blodgett, the acting House sergeant-at-arms, said that the Capitol Police had “no indication that groups will travel to Washington D.C. to protest or commit acts of violence.”

But that advisory was updated in a note to lawmakers Wednesday morning. Blodgett wrote that the Capitol Police had received “new and concerning information and intelligence indicating additional interest in the Capitol for the dates of March 4th – 6th by a militia group.”

Police did not identify the militia group in the statement on Wednesday. In her testimony to the House panel, acting Capitol Police chief Yogananda Pittman said her investigators had collected “some concerning intelligence,” but declined to provide any details publicly, saying it was “law enforcement sensitive” and that she would provide a private briefing for the subcommittee members.

On Wednesday, federal agents were seeking to determine whether there was an increase in the number of hotel rooms being rented in Washington, as well as monitoring flights to the area, car rental reservations and any buses being chartered to bring groups into the capital, a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press. The person could not publicly discuss details of the security planning and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Rep. Adriano Espaillat, D-N.Y., said he was “very concerned” about potential threats Thursday and wasn’t sure whether the Capitol Police were adequately prepared to respond.

“I believe that there should be additional resources assigned to their efforts to sweep for explosives, for example,” he said. “And I don’t know to what degree that’s being done right now.”

Lawmakers were expected to be briefed later Wednesday by Capitol Police leadership in a closed session

There was no indication that the Senate or House would alter their legislative activities on Thursday. The House is aiming to debate and pass a policing reform bill on Thursday. The Senate could be in the midst of a potentially long debate and votes on a COVID-19 aid bill.

This is a developing story. Check back for more updates.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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