The Department of Justice is creating a new unit to investigate domestic terrorism.
Matthew G. Olsen, the head of the DOJ’s National Security Division, announced the decision during Congressional testimony on Tuesday. He noted that FBI investigations into extremists accused of plotting or executing crimes in the name of domestic political goals has more than doubled since the spring of 2020.
“We have seen a growing threat from those who are motivated by racial animus, as well as those who ascribe to extremist anti-government and anti-authority ideologies,” Olsen explained.
Olsen also made clear that the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol was being “investigated as an act of domestic terrorism.”
The ‘terrorism’ label for January 6th has become a flashpoint in rightwing circles. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) repeatedly called the January 6th rioters ‘terrorists’ throughout 2020, but he tried to walk back that characterization last week after intense criticism.
At Tuesday’s hearing, Cruz and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) accused the DOJ of hypocrisy, claiming they tolerated violence during social justice protests following George Floyd’s murder, but are not giving the same lassitude to pro-Trump rioters.
Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-IL) ripped into the GOP for whitewashing the events of January 6th. “They are normalizing the use of violence to achieve political goals,” he said.