New report flags how Homeland Security missed the threat Trump posed ahead of the 2020 election
As former President Donald Trump laid the foundation to challenge the outcome of the presidential election in the days leading up to Election Day, national security and law enforcement agencies failed to fully recognize the threat he posted, according to a new report from Newsweek.
Trump was reportedly mentioned in 1,200 of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) threat reports in the days prior to the 2020 presidential election. The publication also highlighted some of the holes in the threat reports released around that time.
Homeland security targeted extremist threats on the right and left. Contrary to popular opinion, of 1.1 million threat reports stored on the "for official use only" Homeland Security Information Network for the years preceding the 2020 election, the ratio of right-wing to left-wing reports is almost five-to-one. Ten times more reports cover hate crimes and white supremacists than any left wing causes. Of course the number of reports should reflect the prevalence of threats and incidents—that is, that there was a greater threat of violence emerging from the right-wing. So the numbers do seem to suggest that the right was indeed the subject of more intelligence attention than the left. The largest single group subject to reporting was the anti-government Sovereign Citizens, resulting in six times more reports than Antifa.
Newsweek's exclusive review of the evidence also suggests, though, that homeland security didn't overly bother itself with pro-Trumpers. Mention of the word Trump appears in just 1,200 of the 1.1 million reports; "Make America Great Again," in any context, appears in just 30 reports. There is no evidence in the reports of much interest in the groups—Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, Three Percenters—that would be involved in the January 6 assault, and contrary to conventional wisdom, the reporting between election day and the attack on the Capitol regarding any threats to Washington was sparse compared to every other threat from Russian meddling to COVID fraud.
Newsweek reporter William Arkin explained how the numbers underscore DHS' failure to thoroughly understand the depth of the threat Trump's influence posed to the country.
"What the numbers suggest is that the entire apparatus of domestic security, from DHS to the state-level fusion centers, failed to understand what was going on in the country—the threat to the nation—despite abundant dots existing out in the open," Arkin wrote. "That was in contrast with 9/11, where the dots lurked within the intelligence community."
Days after the presidential election was called for President Joe Biden, Trump and his attorney Rudy Giuliani deployed their tactics to push conspiracy theories questioning the integrity and outcome of the election.
Although Trump and Giuliani claimed Dominion Voting Systems' machines were rigged, Christopher Krebs —the first director of the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)— refused to stand by and allow the former president to undermine the United States' democracy. Krebs worked with CISA, the Election Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council Executive Committee, state-level officials, and civil organizations to push back against the claims Trump and his allies were circulating.
At the time, a collective statement was released to address the claims.
"The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history," they said. "Right now, across the country, election officials are reviewing and double-checking the entire election process prior to finalizing the result."
While the statement acknowledged that it was not uncommon to review and/or content close election, it was made clear that "there is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised."