The Justice Department acknowledged that statistics showing a surging rate of domestic terrorism related cases in the last two years can largely be traced to the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riots.
"That number does include the Jan. 6 cases, and there, of course, we have over 800 arrests of individuals – not all of them are characterized as domestic violent extremists, to be clear, but many are," Assistant Attorney General Matt Olsen said during testimony in front of the House Judiciary Committee last week. "Those do account for at least a significant portion of that jump over the past two years in the number of investigations."
The remarks come as some critics have accused the FBI and DOJ of purposefully inflating the amount of domestic terrorism related cases to appease the Biden administration, which has said domestic terrorism represents the "largest threat" facing the country.
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, sent a letter to FBI Director Chris Wray last week demanding answers after he said "brave whistleblowers" came to him with information indicating the agency was inflating the number of domestic extremism cases.
"From recent protected disclosures, we have learned that FBI officials are pressuring agents to reclassify cases as ‘domestic violent extremism’ even if the cases do not meet the criteria for such a classification," Jordan wrote in the letter. "Given the narrative pushed by the Biden administration that domestic violent extremism is the ‘greatest threat’ facing our country, revelation that the FBI may be artificially padding domestic terrorism data is scandalous."
Wray testified in front of the House Judiciary Committee last year that the FBI had "doubled the amount of domestic terrorism investigations," seemingly lending credence to President Biden's argument that domestic terrorism represented a growing and "lethal threat" to national security.
During his testimony last week, Olsen said "the number of FBI investigations of suspected domestic violent extremism has more than doubled since the spring of 2020," but he could not clarify how much of that surge was due to arrests of Jan. 6 suspects.
"I don’t have a specific number on that," he said.
Jordan believes at least part of that jump could also be the result of the FBI's push to reclassify cases as domestic terrorism that otherwise wouldn't have been.
"We have received accusations that FBI agents are bolstering the number of cases of DVEs to satisfy their superiors. For example, one whistleblower explained that because agents are not finding enough DVE cases, they are encouraged and incentivized to reclassify cases as DVE cases even though there is minimal, circumstantial evidence to support the reclassification," Jordan wrote in the letter.
"Another whistleblower – who led at least one high-profile domestic terrorism investigation – stated that a field office Counterterrorism Assistant Special Agent in Charge and the FBI’s Director of the Counterterrorism Division have pressured agents to move cases into the DVE category to hit self-created performance metrics. According to whistleblowers, the FBI uses these metrics to dispense awards and promotions. Every whistleblower has called it an environment of 'pressure' within the FBI," he continued.
Jordan argued the practice would cheapen actual instances of domestic violence and extremism for the benefit of a political agenda.
"It appears instead that the FBI is more focused on classifying investigations to meet a woke left-wing agenda," Jordan concluded.