Though draft reports from the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation assert that white-supremacist violence is the greatest terror threat facing the nation and that this election period is a “potential flashpoint” for “violent extremist” threats from a far-right militia that includes white supremacists, the FBI is four months late on delivering its research on domestic terrorism. According to The Daily Beast, the bureau will not release its report until after the election.
Such a long delay is obviously troubling for several reasons. Research on far-right violence related to the election won’t be helpful for lawmakers and law enforcement if it comes after the threat has passed. And like so many other reports filed during this administration, there is the concern that it may be delayed so as not to upset the president.
“This report probably would not be viewed favorably by this administration. That, I think, precipitates the report not being released by November 3,” Mississippi representative Bennie Thompson told The Daily Beast. Thompson, a Democrat and the chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, added that he “would hate to think that they are reacting to President Trump’s machinations about his dislike for senior leadership in the FBI.”
The FBI claims its report on domestic terrorism, which was expected to be delivered in June, has been delayed due to “limitations caused by COVID-19.” As The Daily Beast notes, the publication of the research is required by law:
The most recent National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) requires the FBI, in accord with Department of Homeland Security and consultation with the Office of Director of National Intelligence, specify not only known acts of domestic terrorism, but “ideologies relating to domestic terrorism,” and what the FBI and its partners are doing to combat it all …
It’s also supposed to detail “the necessity of changing authorities, roles, resources or responsibilities within the Federal Government to more effectively prevent and counter domestic terrorism activities.”
Considering Trump’s priorities around domestic terrorism — downplaying the threat of agitators emboldened by his presidency while attempting to make antifa a terror group despite its not being a cohesive organization — it’s unlikely that a report that could potentially recommend more resources for the prevention of far-right terror would meet with his approval. “I think [FBI director Christopher Wray] understands that if he wades too far in the water around this subject, he might drown, or get fired, to be honest,” Thompson told The Daily Beast.
Regardless of the report’s timing or contents, the prospect of federal employment may already be lost for Wray. According to a report from Axios on Sunday, Trump is planning on a “move to immediately fire” the FBI director after growing frustrated with his decision not to launch an investigation into Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine and China and Wray’s testimony in September that undercut the president’s claims of mass election fraud.