The FBI on Thursday categorically denied a report that it was secretly targeting supporters of former President Donald Trump ahead of the 2024 elections.
Newsmax reported on claims made by Newsweek on Wednesday that the FBI in October 2022 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.
Government insiders acknowledged to Newsweek that although they are not named specifically, the AGAAVE-Other title applies to political violence associated with Trump supporters.
"Any allegation that the FBI targets individuals solely for their political beliefs is categorically false," an FBI spokesperson wrote in an email to Newsmax. "The FBI investigates those who commit acts of violence or threaten violence, and we do not take action based on political belief or any First Amendment protected activity."
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.
"The threat posed by domestic violent extremists is persistent, evolving, and deadly," the FBI said in a statement Wednesday to Newsweek. "The FBI's goal is to detect and stop terrorist attacks, and our focus is on potential criminal violations, violence, and threats of violence.
"Anti-government or anti-authority violent extremism [AGAAVE] is one category of domestic terrorism, as well as one of the FBI's top threat priorities. This 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.
"These violent extremists have targeted both Republican and Democratic members of Congress. We are committed to protecting the safety and constitutional rights of all Americans and will never open an investigation based solely on First Amendment protected activity, including a person's political beliefs or affiliations."
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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