FBI investigating 'unprecedented' number of threats against bureau in wake of Mar-a-Lago search
Published Friday, August 12, 2022 7:57PM EDT
The FBI is investigating an "unprecedented" number of threats against bureau personnel and property in the wake of the search of former president Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort, including some against agents listed in court records as being involved in the recent search, a law enforcement source tells CNN.
On Friday, the names of the two agents who signed the search warrant paperwork circulated online. The names had been included in a version of the search warrant that was leaked prior to the official unsealing of the documents. The version released by the court redacted the agents' names.
The heightened level of threats follows a high-profile week for the bureau in which agents executed a search warrant at Trump's Palm Beach property as part of an evidence-gathering step in a national security investigation about presidential records, including classified documents, taken to Florida. The warrant, which was unsealed and released by a federal judge on Friday, revealed the Justice Department is looking into possible violations of the Espionage Act, obstruction of justice and criminal handling of government records, as part of its investigation.
In the days following the search, violent threats surfaced online, with posters writing, "Garland needs to be assassinated" – referencing Attorney General Merrick Garland, who "personally approved" the decision to seek a warrant -- and "kill all feds." Additionally, the biography and contact information of the federal magistrate judge who signed the search warrant was wiped from a Florida court's website after he too became the target of violent threats.
In a separate incident Thursday, a man who was believed to be armed with an AR-15 rifle and a nail gun tried to breach the FBI's Cincinnati field office. He was killed hours later after a standoff with authorities. Although the suspect's motive has not yet been identified, he had been known to the FBI because he had an unspecified connection to the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol, and because he had associates within a far-right extremist group, two law enforcement sources told CNN Friday.
FBI Director Chris Wray addressed bureau employees' safety in a memo distributed this week.
"Let me also assure you that your safety and security are my primary concern right now. Security Division is working across the agency as we continue to stay vigilant and adjust our security posture accordingly," Wray said in the statement reviewed by CNN.
The FBI declined to comment on any specific threats against bureau employees, but told CNN in a statement that the bureau "is always concerned about violence and threats of violence to law enforcement, including the men and women of the FBI."
"We work closely with our law enforcement partners to assess and respond to such threats, which are reprehensible and dangerous," the statement said. "As always, we would like to remind members of the public that if they observe anything suspicious to report it to law enforcement immediately."