December 5, 2022

“As we wait to hear more, every single American needs to be lowering the temperature,” Senator Ben Sasse, Republican of Nebraska, said in a statement on Friday. “This is increasingly obvious: Disturbed individuals easily succumb to conspiracy theories and rage — the consequences are bloody and un-American.”

Political violence is hardly a new phenomenon. Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, then the third-ranking Republican, was shot and gravely wounded in 2017 at a congressional baseball practice in a suburb of Washington, D.C., by a man with a grudge against Republicans; Mr. Scalise has said the presence of his security detail saved his life.

But since the attack on the Capitol, members of Congress have reported feeling increasingly vulnerable both in Washington and at home in their districts. The number of recorded threats against members of Congress increased more than tenfold in the five years after Mr. Trump was elected in 2016, according to figures from the Capitol Police, the federal law enforcement department that protects Congress, with more than 9,625 threats reported in 2021.

Many of those threats have come from people with mental illness who are not believed to pose an immediate danger, a spokesman from the Capitol Police said, and even fewer of those threats result in an arrest or indictment.


How Times reporters cover politics. We rely on our journalists to be independent observers. So while Times staff members may vote, they are not allowed to endorse or campaign for candidates or political causes. This includes participating in marches or rallies in support of a movement or giving money to, or raising money for, any political candidate or election cause.

But lawmakers have reported an increase in jarring confrontations that have sent them dipping into their campaign accounts to bulk up their security and minimizing their public footprint.

A man who had sent an angry email to Representative Pramila Jayapal, Democrat of Washington State, for example, repeatedly showed up outside her house, armed with a semiautomatic handgun and shouting threats and profanities. An unknown visitor came to the house of Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, and smashed a storm window.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if a senator or House member were killed,” Ms. Collins said in an interview earlier this year. “What started with abusive phone calls is now translating into active threats of violence and real violence.”

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