Since the beginning of the QAnon conspiracy four years ago, its adherents have had to update their timeline after predictions of society-shaking events involving the elevation of Donald Trump and the incarceration of Democrats have not panned out. After the Capitol riot failed to stop President Biden from taking office, the next mark on the calendar for Trump’s return to power was March 4, the original date for the inauguration set in the Constitution.
For weeks it’s been known that some QAnon supporters have had their eyes on the Capitol for the surprise second inauguration of Donald Trump; in February, the former president’s hotel in D.C. even raised its prices in anticipation that some of the former president’s less grounded supporters would be willing to pay as much as four times the usual amount for a room on Thursday night. But on Wednesday, U.S. Capitol Police announced that they had learned of a “possible” militia plot targeting the complex, less than two months after the attack in which five were killed and rioters got within feet of politicians they were threatening to kill.
While a bulletin this week from the FBI and Department of Homeland Security stated that the plan may just be “aspirational,” the House has taken serious precautions, canceling its Thursday session. Late on Wednesday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced that the vote scheduled on Thursday to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act would wrap up by the end of the night. (The bill, which establishes a national database of police misconduct, passed with the support of just one Republican, who says he voted for it by mistake.) The Senate, however, will remain in session to debate amendments to the $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus that has already passed in the House.
According to federal officials who spoke with the New York Times, the intelligence community has had a more “forward leaning” approach with sharing information with lawmakers after the disastrous response and lack of preparation on January 6. Despite an FBI warning of a “war” at the Capitol on the day of the “Stop the Steal” rally, the police force responsible for securing the complex failed to have enough officers on hand to stop rioters from overrunning the building.
Since then, the Capitol has seen a major expansion of security, including fencing and razor wire that has changed the face of the east end of the National Mall. And while the possibility of an attack is not as clear as it was on January 6, Capitol Police are still concerned about individual “lone wolf” attackers amid a 94 percent rise in threats against lawmakers in the first two months of 2021, according to acting chief Yogananda D. Pittman.
Though a significant number of Republicans led by Donald Trump still refuse to acknowledge his electoral loss, some in the party have called on the ex-president to consistently accept the truth to limit the potential of future attacks on the Capitol. On Wednesday, Texas representative Michael McCaul, a senior member of the House Homeland Security Committee, demanded Trump condemn violent rhetoric on his behalf. “President Trump has a responsibility to tell them to stand down,” he told CNN. “This threat is credible. It’s real. It’s a right-wing militia group.”