Congress briefed on possible dangers

Lamb: Threats 'very specific'

January 13, 2021 Cranberry Local News

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CRANBERRY TWP — Members of Congress were briefed on new threats to the U.S. Capitol ahead of Inauguration Day, Rep. Conor Lamb, D-17th, told CNN Tuesday morning.

Lamb said that, according to the briefing, thousands of armed extremists plan on surrounding the Capitol. Threats were also made at specific members of Congress.

“The threats we are facing are very specific. I don't want anyone watching at home to think that we're just sort of imagining that things could be bad,” Lamb told CNN. “They were talking about 4,000 armed 'patriots' to surround the Capitol and prevent any Democrat from going in.”

The threats this time around seem to be more orderly than last week's haphazard siege, the representative, whose district includes part of Cranberry Township, said.

Conor Lamb

“They have published rules of engagement, meaning when you shoot and when you don't. So, this is an organized group that has a plan,” Lamb, a Marine Corps veteran and federal prosecutor, said on TV. “They are committed to doing what they're doing because I think in their minds, you know, they are patriots and they're talking about 1776, and so this is now a contest of wills.”

That briefing, which Lamb said was given Monday evening, came less than 24 hours after the FBI issued an internal bulletin warning of “armed protests” in all 50 state capitols and at the U.S. Capitol in the days leading up to President-elect Joe Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration, according to The Associated Press.

Lamb has insisted since last week President Donald Trump was responsible for the Capitol insurrection, saying on Twitter that Trump “helped incite an invasion of the Capitol of the COUNTRY THAT HE SUPPOSEDLY LEADS.” He said the threats to the nation's iconic legislative building and its occupants are cut from the same cloth.

“This is now a contest of wills. We are not negotiating with or reasoning with these people. They have to be prosecuted. They have to be stopped,” Lamb said. “And unfortunately, that includes the president, which is why he needs to be impeached and removed from office.”

Attempts to reach Lamb's office Tuesday were unsuccessful.

No area threats, FBI says

The FBI Pittsburgh field office said Tuesday there were no “related threats” leading up to Jan. 20 in the Pittsburgh region.

Spokeswoman Catherine Policicchio said agents received and investigated a tip there would be “protests in our area” before Inauguration Day, but said there were no threats related to that protest.

“The FBI takes all threats seriously and fully investigates each threat that comes into either our National Threat Operations Center or an FBI Field Office,” Policicchio said. “We continue to work closely with our state, local and federal law enforcement partners with maintaining public safety and focusing our efforts on identifying, investigating and disrupting individuals who are inciting violence and engaging in criminal activity.”

Policicchio added the bureau continues to investigate whether anybody from the region was involved in the “rioting and violence” in Washington, D.C., last week, saying the FBI is accepting digital media and tips.

Also on Tuesday, the Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, Michael R. Sherwin, said in a news conference that federal prosecutors would pursue severe felony charges against many involved in last week's attack. Sherwin said the misdemeanor charges on which some are held are placeholder charges, allowing the defendants to be detained while agents investigate their involvement.

“We're looking at significant felony cases tied to sedition and conspiracy,” Sherwin said.

Assistant director of the FBI Washington field office Steven D'Antuono said the hunt for those involved is a nationwide effort.

“Even if you've left D.C., agents from our local field offices will be knocking on your door,” D'Antuono said.

Police presence beefed

Visitors to the state capitol will see more visible police officers following the insurrection in Washington.

Troy Thompson, speaking for the state agency that oversees the Capitol Police, said efforts to ensure the safety of those working in the building and the protection of the complex began after the riot Wednesday that followed a rally speech by Trump.

“The PA Capitol Police is enhancing its visible presence and will continue to collaborate with other law enforcement entities,” Thompson said. The building is closed to visitors due to COVID-19 concerns.

State police spokesman Ryan Tarkowski said his agency has been working with the state's emergency management agency and the Capitol Police “and will assist with personnel and other resources as necessary in the event of civil unrest.”

“We are confident that PSP has the resources in place to protect Pennsylvanians against threats and to work with all levels of law enforcement to keep the commonwealth safe,” Tarkowski said in a statement.

Metcalfe not in D.C.

After rumors on social media placed state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-10th, in Washington during the Capitol insurrection, the longtime representative said he was in Pennsylvania.

“On Wednesday, Jan. 6, I traveled home to Cranberry Township from the state capitol, where I had been on Tuesday, Jan. 5 for legislative session and our swearing-in ceremony,” Metcalfe said. “To confirm, I drove home on the Pennsylvania Turnpike Wednesday morning, spent the rest of the day working in my district, until I met friends for dinner that evening.”

Metcalfe also condemned the violence that occurred in Washington, saying it was “perpetrated by criminals” like the events last summer in “Minneapolis, New York City, Portland, Chicago, Kenosha and Philadelphia.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Alex J. Weidenhof

Alex J. Weidenhof