US ‘civil war’ fears as Trump turns on allies
America's leading security agencies have warned that domestic terrorists emboldened by the "success" of the Capitol riots could now have their sights set on igniting a civil war.
A new Joint Intelligence Bulletin issued by the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the National counter-terrorism Center said domestic violent extremists (DVEs) and militia (MVEs) and race hate-groups (RMVEs) would try to exploit current US tensions by launching more attacks.
"DVEs could exploit upcoming events to engage in or justify violence, including events attended by MVEs and 'boogaloo' adherents scheduled nationally from 16-20 January (including Joe Biden's inauguration)," the bulletin said.
"The 'boogaloo' is a concept most commonly used by DVEs, particularly MVEs, to reference an impending second civil war or insurgency against the US government.
"MVEs and other DVEs who adhere to the 'boogaloo' concept and who seek a politically motivated civil war, and RMVEs who seek a race war, may exploit the aftermath of the Capitol breach by conducting attacks to destabilise and force a climactic conflict in the United States."
The chilling assessment went on to say that America's radicalised extremists are now ready to "martyr" themselves for their twisted causes.
"DVEs and others may … consider the death of a perceived like-minded individual as an act of martyrdom," the bulletin said.
The perceived "success" of the Capitol riots "likely will inspire some DVEs and others to engage in more sporadic, lone actor or small cell violence against common DVE targets, including racial, ethnic or religious minorities and institutions, law enforcement and government officials and buildings.
"The perceived success of the US Capitol breach and the proliferation of conspiracy theories will likely lead to an increased DVE threat towards representatives of federal, state and local governments across the United States, particularly in the lead-in to the January 20 Presidential Inauguration."
The bulletin concluded: "In 2021, threats and plotting of illegal activity, including the destruction of property and violence targeting officials at all levels of the government, law enforcement, journalists, and infrastructure... will very likely increase."
Meanwhile, newly-impeached President Donald Trump has turned on one-time members of his inner circle as he struggles to come to grips with his impending departure from the White House.
He has even frozen payment of the $A27,000/day legal fees of his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, with the President angered by some of the former New York mayor's legal moves in challenging the election results.
Mr Trump has even demanded to see Mr Giuliani's expense claims before they are approved, the Washington Post reported.
Sources told the Post staff were now hurriedly exiting the White House in the wake of Mr Trump's second impeachment. The small number remaining at his side are now feeling the sting of their boss's anger over his grim predicament as speculation continues to swirl over whether he will try to grant himself a Presidential pardon before he leaves office.
US media reported the President was wallowing in self pity and was angry that his allies weren't out in public on the front foot defending him and his legacy.
"The president is pretty wound up," a senior administration official told the Post. "No one is out there."
By contract, Presiden-elect Joe Biden's inauguration team was putting the finishing touches to the largely virtual program of events which will feature on his January 20 swearing in to the White House.
Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez will headline the ceremony, with Gaga, who campaigned for Biden during the election campaign, to perform the national anthem. There will be a musical performance by Lopez, who has used her voice during the coronavirus pandemic to speak out against its disproportionate toll on minority communities.
A Presidential Inaugural Committee official told CNN it is producing a celebrity-filled prime-time special for the night of the largely virtual inauguration in lieu of the traditional celebrations.
The special will be hosted by Tom Hanks and will also feature performances from Jon Bon Jovi, who campaigned with Biden in Pennsylvania, Demi Lovato, Justin Timberlake and Ant Clemons.
Other participants include Amanda Gorman, the first-ever National Youth Poet Laureate who will deliver the poetry reading, and Andrea Hall, the president of the International Association of Firefighters Local 3920 in Fulton County, Georgia, who will deliver the Pledge of Allegiance.
Meanwhile, Mr Biden is expected to unveil plans Thursday evening US time for fighting Covid and restoring the economy.
In a prime time speech, he is expected to address a twin crisis exceeding even the challenge that faced him as vice president to Barack Obama when they assumed office in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.
CAPITOL ATTACK 'WAS PLANNED'
The shocking attack on the US Capitol was planned by a group of Make America Great Again (MAGA) rioters who were filmed talking about floor plans and police locations while storming the Capitol.
About a dozen MAGA diehards gathered inside of a Capitol building office last Wednesday, video shows.
Independent photojournalist Jeremy Lee Quinn said the rioters appeared to be "co-ordinating in the moment".
This is the clip that's been ripped from my lifestream... I'm ripping it back. It was a kind of autonomous organizing in that it wasn't well organized. It felt improvised & chaotic more than anything. No indication these people knew each other but were coordinating in the moment. pic.twitter.com/bcgBH4SBIP— Jeremy Lee Quinn (@JLeeQuinn) January 13, 2021
The video follows the group as they talk about a door that police have "barricaded" that is "at the top of the stairs".
"What's the floor plan?" a man is heard asking.
Another man talks about the stairway and routes the group should follow or avoid, and adds that at the "door to the right, there's a cop".
Comments by another man indicate the group was co-ordinating their attack at this point as they expressed determination to push forward.
"The door is already open," a man wearing a gas mask says. "We need a plan, we need more people, we need to push forward."
Some of the rioters who stormed the Capitol communicated with each other through walkie-talkie social media app Zello, which has become popular among militias.
At least two members of the mob used Zello to talk with other people who appeared to be inciting them from other locations, the Guardian reported, citing audio and chat logs it reviewed.
"We are in the main dome right now," a female militia member was heard saying amid the mayhem, the New York Post reported. "We are rocking it. They're throwing grenades, they're frickin' shooting people with paintballs, but we're in here."
A male voice replied from a quiet location: "God bless and Godspeed. Keep going."
Another person was heard saying: "Jess, do your s-. This is what we f-- lived up for. Everything we f-- trained for."
Zello has since shut down more than 2,000 "channels associated with militias and other militarised social movements".
"It is with deep sadness and anger that we have discovered evidence of Zello being misused by some individuals while storming the United States Capitol building last week," Zello wrote in a blog post, according to the Guardian.
"Looking ahead, we are concerned that Zello could be misused by groups who have threatened to organise additional potentially violent protests and disrupt the US presidential inauguration festivities on January 20th."
Zello was used to organise and foment unrest in the lead-up to the riot., according to records from other far-right channels.
"Once we go operational, this channel will just be for intel gathering and organising on the backside … All information, once verified, will be put into the Telegram and then shared to boots on the ground from there," a user named "AmericanRev2" said in the password-protected channel "DC 3.0," the Guardian reported.
On Jan. 4, two days before the insurrection, a militia member said on Zello: "How about if all of us stand the f- up, and take this s- back?"
SECURITY FEARS GROW AFTER TRUMP IMPEACHMENT
Joe Biden has dropped plans to take a train to Washington on inauguration day, amid fears of violence following the Capitol riots last week.
The President-elect originally decided to take a 90-minute train ride from his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, to the Union Station in Washington on January 20. But he cancelled following potential threats in the Capitol and across the country, persons briefed have told multiple US outlets.
It comes as newly-elected Republican congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene said she will be filing articles of impeachment against Mr Biden for alleged "abuse of power" on his first day at the Oval Office.
Ms Greene announced her plan on Twitter after Donald Trump on Thursday added his most humiliating entry into the record books, becoming the only President to be impeached twice.
While 10 Republicans voted to support the impeachment article, Ms Greene was among the 197 House representatives, who defended the president.
"On January 21, 2021, I'll be filing Articles of Impeachment against Joe Biden for abuse of power," Ms Greene had tweeted
As Republicans crossed the floor to support his impeachment for "incitement of insurrection" up to 20,000 National Guard troops swarmed Washington DC.
Booted off social media for continuing to claim Mr Biden cheated to win the presidency, Mr Trump issued a late-in-the-day plea to his supporters calling on them to stand down and stop protesting his election loss.
"I want to be very clear: I unequivocally condemn the violence that we saw last week," he said in the video.
"Like all of you I was shocked and deeply saddened by the calamity that unfolded at the Capitol.
"No true supporter of mine could ever endorse political violence.
"We cannot tolerate it."
He also slammed the social media companies who have silenced him, saying: "What is needed now is to listen to one another, not to silence one another".
But as senior Republicans and even some of his most loyal allies continued to slam him over last week's deadly siege at the US Capitol, it was too little too late to save Mr Trump from the ignominy of a second impeachment.
"The president bears responsibility for Wednesday's attack on Congress by mob rioters," said House Minority Leader and frequent Trump booster Kevin McCarthy.
"Some say the riots were caused by Antifa. There's absolutely no evidence of that and conservatives should be the first to say so."
The hopes of his critics that impeachment would bring an early end to Mr Trump's term were dashed by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who said his trial would not take place until after Mr Biden's inauguration next week.
"There is simply no chance that a fair or serious trial could conclude before President-elect Biden is sworn in next week," he said.
Mr McConnell also stopped short of stating his position on Mr Trump's impeachment, a day after the powerful Republican was reported to be considering a guilty verdict.
Just when Mr Trump will face his accusers is not yet clear.
With less than a week until Mr Trump's term ends, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has not stated when she will hand the article of impeachment to the Senate.
Mr McConnell refused to recall Congress, instead saying the impeachment would be considered on January 19 at the earliest.
Leading Republican Senator Lindsay Graham called on the incoming administration to avoid a "post presidential impeachment", saying it would further divide the country.
"President Trump's statement tonight hit the mark," Mr Graham said on Twitter.
"He rejected violence, unequivocally condemned those who defiled our Capitol, called for full accountability, and emphasised (that) those who engage in violence tarnish the movement.
"His speech helps move the country forward.
"It's now time for President-elect Biden to reject post presidential impeachment because of the destructive force it would have on the presidency and nation.
"Impeachment is political and will further divide the nation."
But Mr Biden indicated in a statement that he would leave the process to the Senate.
"This criminal attack was planned and co-ordinated. It was carried out by political extremists and domestic terrorists, who were incited to this violence by President Trump," he said.
"It was an armed insurrection against the United States of America. And those responsible must be held accountable.
"Today, the members of the House of Representatives exercised the power granted to them under our Constitution and voted to impeach and hold the president accountable. It was a bipartisan vote cast by members who followed the Constitution and their conscience. The process continues to the Senate."
Mr Trump has been bleeding support for his role in stoking last week's chaos, which has led to at least five deaths, and doing so little to call for calm.
Congressman Dan Newhouse, the final of 10 Republicans to vote for impeachment, said: "Our country needed a leader and President Trump failed to fulfil his oath of office".
"A vote against impeachment is a vote to validate this unacceptable violence we witnessed in our nation's capital," Mr Newhouse said.
"It is also a vote to condone President Trump's inaction. He did not strongly condemn the attack nor did he call in reinforcements when our officers were overwhelmed."
Introducing the article of impeachment, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi described last Wednesday's siege of the Capital as a "day of fire".
"We know that the President of the United States incited this insurrection, armed rebellion, against our common country," she said.
"It breaks my heart. It should break your heart. It should break all of our hearts."
- with staff writers
Originally published as US 'civil war' fears as Trump turns on allies