The FBI reportedly is secretly targeting supporters of former President Donald Trump to prevent violence or any major civil disturbances around the time of the 2024 elections.
Newsweek reported Wednesday it spoke to more than a dozen current or former government officials who specialize in terrorism in a three-month investigation about the domestic-security landscape and to evaluate what President Joe Biden's administration is doing about what it calls domestic terrorism.
A current FBI official who requested anonymity told Newsweek the bureau is trying to avoid a repeat of the events of Jan. 6, 2021, but must also protect the constitutional rights of Americans to speak freely and protest the government. The official said by focusing solely on Trump supporters, the FBI risks provoking the type of anti-government activities it is working hard to prevent.
"Especially at a time when the White House is facing congressional Republican opposition claiming that the Biden administration has 'weaponized' the bureau against the right wing, it has to tread very carefully," the official said.
Biden and his administration have repeatedly presented Trump supporters, including Republicans in Congress, as an existential threat to democracy.
"Donald Trump and MAGA Republicans are a threat to the very soul of this country," Biden posted Sept. 1, 2022, on X, formerly known as Twitter.
In a speech at the Columbus Club in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 2, 2022, Biden said: "Extreme MAGA Republicans aim to question not only the legitimacy of past elections but elections being held now and into the future.”
A senior intelligence official who works at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence told Newsweek that Biden's rhetoric on domestic terrorism could goad his opponents into taking more extreme action — particularly those who have lost their faith in elections or believe the system is rigged against them.
Newsweek also reported it reviewed secret FBI and Department of Homeland Security data that track incidents, threats, investigations, and cases. It reported many experts question whether "terrorism" is the best way to describe the problem, or the methods of counterterrorism developed in response to al-Qaida and other radical Islamist groups are the most efficient ways to craft domestic solutions.
In October, 2022, the FBI created a new subcategory, AGAAVE-Other, which stands for anti-government, anti-authority violent extremism — describing those who were a threat but do not fit into its anarchist, militia, or Sovereign Citizen groups. Newsweek reported
The new classification is officially defined as "domestic violent extremists who cite anti-government or anti-authority motivations for violence or criminal activity not otherwise defined, such as individuals motivated by a desire to commit violence against those with a real or perceived association with a specific political party or faction of a specific political party."
Government insiders acknowledged to Newsweek that although they are not named specifically, the AGAAVE-Other title applies to political violence associated with Trump supporters.
In a statement to Newsweek, the FBI said the AGAAVE threat "includes anarchist violent extremists, militia violent extremists, sovereign citizen violent extremists, and other violent extremists — some of whom are motivated by a desire to harm those with a real or perceived association with a political party or faction.”
The FBI also told Newsweek the investigations are not only limited to Trump supporters:
"These violent extremists have targeted both Republican and Democratic members of Congress."
But another senior intelligence official who requested anonymity told Newsweek that "Trump's army constitutes the greatest threat of violence domestically ... politically ... that's the reality and the problem set.
"That's what the FBI, as a law enforcement agency has to deal with. But whether Trump and his supporters are a threat to national security, to the country, whether they represent a threat of civil war? That's a trickier question. And that's for the country to deal with, not the FBI."
Newsmax reached out to the Trump campaign for comment.
Michael Katz ✉
Michael Katz is a Newsmax reporter with more than 30 years of experience reporting and editing on news, culture, and politics.
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