Trump and GOP’s Rhetoric Contributes to Threats on Public Officials

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Republicans, including former president Donald Trump, have targeted the Justice Department, accusing the agency and its staff of weaponizing the justice system, as well as individual judges. This type of rhetoric has contributed to “toxicity” and an “unprecedented rise” in threats against public officials, said Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco.

“On a weekly basis — sometimes more often — I am getting reports about threats to public officials, threats to our prosecutors, threats to law enforcement agents who work in the Justice Department, threats to judges,” Monaco said in an interview that aired Sunday on ABC’s This Week.

Monaco added that in this past week alone, the department has seen “cases involving threats to kill FBI agents, a Supreme Court justice and three presidential candidates.”

Thomas pointed out that Republicans in Congress have attacked the DOJ and its officials with their rhetoric. They have accused the department of giving favor to Hunter Biden, threatened to impeach Attorney General Merrick Garland and targeted FBI Director Christopher Wray. House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan even accused Wray of turning the FBI into an “Orwellian Ministry of Truth” for its relationship with social media companies.

“You have Republicans who will say that the Justice Department is full of political operatives who are working to help President Biden, hurt President Trump, and they’ll even say that the FBI should be defunded. What’s your reaction to that kind of language, and what do you say on behalf of DOJ?”

“It really bothers me when I hear those claims because it does a disservice to the men and women of the Justice Department,” Monaco said. “It contributes to the toxicity that you’re speaking about… What we’ve seen is an unprecedented rise in threats to public officials across the board — law enforcement agents, prosecutors, judges, election officials. And we are seeing that and responding to it.”

While Monaco did not name specific candidates or lawmakers, Thomas asked her, “When people using words like ‘poison the blood’ and calling DOJ officials ‘thugs,’ is that helpful?” — making a clear reference to Trump’s words on the campaign trail.

“Well, of course, it’s not helpful,” Monaco responded.

Monaco added that the types of threats the DOJ faces have changed over the years. “We’re in a unique moment where what we’re most worried about are individuals or small groups who are often radicalized online and who are motivated by and influenced by a range of ideologies from foreign terrorism and foreign terrorist organizations to domestic grievances,” she said. “And oftentimes what we’re seeing in the most lethal form is from racially or ethnically motivated ideologies.”

She added that since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel and Israel’s ongoing military campaign in Gaza, the FBI has seen “a significant uptick in threats of violence and violence, particularly directed at the Jewish community and also at the Muslim and Arab American communities here in the United States.”

Monaco said that the bureau has received “more than 1,800 reports of threats or other types of tips or leads that are somehow related to or have a nexus to the current conflict in Israel and Gaza.”


Thomas also asked Monaco specifically whether President Joe Biden has tried to use the power of the presidency to influence the investigation into his son or the investigation into Donald Trump, Monaco gave an unequivocal no.

“No,” she said. “And the attorney general’s been exceptionally clear on this point.”

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