Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, is typically a loyal ally of President Donald Trump and his administration. But on Wednesday, he went on Fox News and scolded Trump’s Justice Department and FBI for failing to provide even basic information about a major domestic terrorism threat.
In early May, Johnson and the committee’s top Democrat — Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) — authored bipartisan letters that were sent to Kevin McAleenan, the acting secretary of Homeland Security, Attorney General William Barr, and FBI Director Christopher Wray. These letters asked for information about domestic terrorism and how each is addressing it. DHS responded, but four months later, the Justice Department and the FBI — which operates within the DOJ — have not.
In a new letter on Monday, Johnson and Peters noted that there have been several domestic terrorism attacks since their first letter. “Since the date of our request, there have been numerous mass attacks, including Virginia Beach, VA; Gilroy, CA; El, Paso, TX; and Dayton, OH… These continued mass attacks make it clear that the federal government has more work to do in preventing domestic terrorism.”
On Tuesday, Johnson took the issue directly to the Trump administration — by raising it on Fox News.
“On May 8th, ranking member Sen. Peters and I sent a letter to the Department of Justice and the FBI, asking them how do they keep track of these domestic terrorist attacks? What kind of resources do they have and what are they devoting to different aspects of this? We got a response from DHS. We haven’t got a response from the FBI or attorney general,” he complained.
“Monday, we asked them to respond. I’m not sure you’ll ever have enough resources in terms of what people will be requesting. This is a serious issue, though. We expect answers out of the FBI director and the attorney general.”
In 2009, the Obama administration’s Department of Homeland Security produced a lengthy report on the risk of right-wing domestic terrorism. Congressional Republicans accused then-Secretary Janet Napolitano of insulting “American citizens who disagree with the direction Washington Democrats are taking our nation” and got the report removed from the DHS website.
In May, Trump was asked whether he saw white nationalism as a rising global threat. “I don’t really, ” he replied.