FBI & DHS Warned Trump White Supremacists Posed A Terror Threat Months Before Charlottesville
According to an internal document obtained by Foreign Policy, domestic intelligence agencies warned President Trump of white supremacists' threat back in May. The document, which reviews white supremacist activities in 2016, said that the faction “likely will continue to pose a threat of lethal violence over the next year.”
The news of the document came in the days following the deadly violence at a "Unite The Right" rally in Charlottesville, VA., where white supremacist demonstrators clashed with counter-protestors. The violence came to a peak when a car slammed into a crowd of counter-protestors, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer. The man suspected of driving that car into the crowd is 20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr., was reportedly a member of the white nationalist group demonstrating to prevent the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
President Trump's initial statement regarding the attack — that there was violence "on many sides" — has been fiercely criticized because some believed that Trump was unwilling to critique the white supremacists who claim they support him. Trump finally issued a pointed condemnation on Monday, a whole two days after Charlottesville. “Racism is evil,” Trump said. “And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”
The document from the FBI and DHS also stated that since 2000, white supremacists have killed more people than any other domestic terror group in the United States. They caused 49 deaths over the course of 26 attacks. Furthermore, according to the bulletin, "racial minorities have been the primary victims" of white supremacist violence.
The report also recounted several gruesome attacks carried out by white supremacists in 2016. In February of that year, a lone white supremacists allegedly attacked an 18-year-old Asian woman with a hatchet. She was taking photographs for a school project in Nashville, Indiana, and survived the attack, fortunately. The man who faces charges related to the attack said, according to court documents, that he is a white supremacist and "wanted to kill the student because of her race." The man is in custody and awaits trial.
According to a report by POLITICO, political analysts believe that Trump's hesitance to condemn white supremacists has much to do with the fact that he sees them as his base of support. “He feels he can keep his base happy by being mute for 48 hours, and then he can come in and mute the so-called mainstream media world,” presidential historian Douglas Brinkley told POLITICO.
The report obtained by Foreign Policy demonstrated that the FBI and DHS are highly concerned about white supremacists, as they are the leading cause of domestic terror attacks, which they are quick to say — a notable contrast to the actions of their commander-in-chief, who took days to condemn white supremacist violence.