The Trump administration is illegally hiding an FBI report on white supremacist terror

The Trump administration is illegally hiding an FBI report on white supremacist terror
Director Christopher Wray addresses the audience during his formal installation ceremony at FBI Headquarters on September 28, 2017. Wray, a former U.S. attorney and assistant attorney general in the Justice Department's Criminal Division, was formally sworn in August 2, 2017 in a private ceremony. // FBI

For decades, much of the right-wing media has emphasized the threat posed by violent Islamist extremists while downplaying the terrorist potential of far-right white supremacist and white nationalist groups. But that doesn't make the latter any less dangerous. And one Democratic congressman who is sounding the alarm is Mississippi's Rep. Bennie Thompson, who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee and wants to know why an FBI report on white supremacists is four months late.

In an article published this week, journalist Spencer Ackerman — who specializes in national security matters for the Daily Beast — notes that the FBI "has failed to produce a legally required report detailing the scope of white supremacist and other domestic terrorism, despite mounting concerns that the upcoming election could spark far-right violence." That report was supposed to be released in June, and according to Ackerman, Thompson is demanding answers.

"I would hate to think that they are reacting to President Trump's machinations about his dislike for senior leadership in the FBI," Thompson told the Daily Beast. "This report probably would not be viewed favorably by this administration. That, I think, precipitates the report not being released by November 3."

Thompson told the Beast that the American public "needs to know who the real, documented terrorists in this country, based on the FBI's intelligence, really are…. I think (FBI Director Christopher Wray) understands that if he wades too far in the water around this subject, he might drown — or get fired, to be honest."

Trump has had a lot to say about antifa in recent months but precious little to say about white supremacist and white nationalist groups. Conservative Elizabeth Neumann, a former U.S. Department of Homeland Security official under Trump who has been active in the group Republican Voters Against Trump and has endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden for president, had been sharply critical of his treatment of the issue. Neumann has stressed that Trump has spent way too much time talking about Antifa while downplaying the terrorist threat that white power groups pose. And like Thompson, she would like to see an in-depth FBI report on the threat.

Neumann told the Beast, "I have no doubt the FBI is on top of any number of cases of this. I have confidence that the FBI is likely to thwart a lot of these attempts."

Neumann and Miles Taylor — another conservative ex-DHS official who has been active in RVAT and is supporting Biden — both believe that white supremacist terrorism isn't a high priority for the Trump White House. Taylor told the Beast, "The bottom line from the White House was they didn't want us to talk us about domestic terrorism because they worried that if we talked about right-wing extremism, we would alienate many of the president's supporters."

According to Thomson, the Trump White House is putting the public at risk by downplaying the dangers of white supremacist and white nationalist terrorists.

The congressman told the Beast, "The White House, members of Congress, other outside groups, are saying, 'These radical Muslim groups, these radical left-wing groups — we gotta do something about them.' Well, it was clear that when you talk to professionals, these weren't the most dangerous, nor from a numerical standpoint — the statistics were going in the opposite direction. We're still having these incidents occur, but the ideology and the individuals perpetrating them lean more toward the right-wing philosophy. And I think, when that hit, it kind of took the fire out of the domestic-terrorist conversation."

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