DHS: US under 'heightened threat environment’ amid concerns over ‘violent riots’

The White House last week announced a new effort to focus on 'domestic violent extremism'

The Department of Homeland Security said Wednesday the United States is under "a heightened threat environment" in the wake of the Capitol riot earlier this month and violence in Portland and Seattle in recent days. 

The department said it issued a National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin after consulting with the intelligence community and federal law enforcement partners.


"There is currently a heightened threat environment across the United States that is likely to persist over the coming weeks," the bulletin read.

The bulletin noted that the agency does not have any information to indicate any "specific" or "credible" plots, but cited violence and unrest across the country related to the presidential transition.

"DHS does not have any information to indicate a specific, credible plot; however, violent riots have continued in recent days and we remain concerned that individuals frustrated with the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances and ideological causes fueled by false narratives, could continue to mobilize a broad range of ideologically-motivated actors to incite or commit violence," the bulletin read.

The announcement comes after the White House this week said "all violence" will be reviewed as part of the Biden administration’s effort to combat domestic violent extremism.

The Jan. 6 Capitol riot left five people dead – including a U.S. Capitol Police officer – as pro-Trump supporters stormed the Capitol as a joint session of Congress attempted to certify the electoral votes for Biden’s 2020 presidential victory.

Anti-fascist rioters have also recently taken to the streets in Portland and Seattle to cause destruction and chaos.

Last week, White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced that President Biden had requested a "comprehensive threat assessment" on domestic violent extremism from ODNI in coordination with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.


Psaki told reporters that the National Security Council would also build a new capability to focus on domestic violent extremism, which she referred to as "DVE."

Psaki said that the decisions on policy will rely on law enforcement and guidance from the intelligence community, and that the goal would be to "disrupt violent extremist networks and more."

"We are coordinating relevant parts of the federal government to address DVE," Psaki said, adding that the NSC is "addressing evolving threats," and reviewing the role of "social media, operational responses and more."

Psaki on Tuesday was asked about reports that Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines was reviewing individuals engaged in violence during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot as domestic violent extremists, and whether ODNI would also review those engaged in unrest in Seattle, Wash., and Portland, Ore.

"All violence happening around the country will be reviewed by the tasking by the national security team," Psaki said.

And earlier this week, Psaki said the president "condemns violence" and supports "peaceful protests," but in referring to Portland and Seattle, said those activities were not peaceful.

"President Biden condemns violence and any violence in the strongest possible terms," Psaki said. "Peaceful protests are a cornerstone of our democracy but smashing windows is not protesting and neither is looting, and actions like these are totally unacceptable."

More than a dozen people were arrested in the two cities, according to police reports, after demonstrators angry with Biden targeted government buildings and the Oregon Democratic Party building in Portland.

The demonstrators, most clad in black, spray-painted anarchy symbols on buildings, broke windows and marched under a banner that read, "We are ungovernable."

"We don’t want Biden -- we want revenge for police murders, imperialist wars, and fascist massacres," read another banner that the group marched under. 

In Seattle, hours after Biden took office last week, a group of about 100 people marched in the Emerald City, where police said windows were broken at a federal courthouse and officers arrested three people.

Federal law enforcement responded to the unrest over the weekend.