FBI investigators are tracking a significant volume of “concerning” internet buzz surrounding the Jan. 20 inauguration of Joe Biden, the agency’s director said Thursday.
The troubling statement, made during a televised briefing chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, comes as the FBI is simultaneously tasked with heading off threats to the inauguration and apprehending the hordes of rioters who stormed the US Capitol on Jan. 6 in an attempt to prevent Biden’s victory from being certified by Congress.
“We are seeing an extensive amount of concerning online chatter … about a number of events surrounding the inauguration,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray.
“Right now we’re tracking calls for potential armed protests and activity leading up to the inauguration,” he continued. “The reason I use the word ‘potential’ is because one of the real challenges in this space is trying to distinguish what’s aspirational versus what’s intentional.”
The FBI previously issued a memo to authorities in all 50 states warning of potential armed demonstrations at state capitols and federal buildings, an alert since extended to some local police departments including the NYPD.
“We’re concerned about the potential for violence at multiple protests and rallies planned here in DC and at state capitol buildings around the country in the days to come that could bring armed individuals within close proximity to government buildings and officials,” said Wray.