DOJ Standing Up Task Force To Address Surge In Threats Against Election Officials

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 26: US Attorney General Merrick Garland delivers a statement at the Department of Justice flanked by Vanita Gupta, associate U.S. attorney general (L) and Lisa Monaco, deputy U.S. attorney gene... WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 26: US Attorney General Merrick Garland delivers a statement at the Department of Justice flanked by Vanita Gupta, associate U.S. attorney general (L) and Lisa Monaco, deputy U.S. attorney general on April 26, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mandel Ngan-Pool/Getty Images) MORE LESS

The Department of Justice is setting up a task force to address the rising threats against election officials and administrators, something Attorney General Merrick Garland said would not have happened without news reports bringing the severity of the problem to his attention.

Previously, the DOJ was pursuing these cases “sporadically and individually,” he said at a Friday press conference, during which he also announced that the department will sue Georgia over its new, restrictive voting law.

“But given the collection and the number,” of the threats captured in news writeups, he said, “it became apparent that we need to have a more focused and prioritized result.” 

Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco announced the task force Friday morning in a memo to federal prosecutors and the FBI. 

The task force will involve officials from the DOJ’s criminal, civil rights and national security divisions, as well as the FBI. There will also be a complementary hotline for the public to report the threats.

“A threat to any election official, worker, or volunteer is, at bottom, a threat to democracy,” Monaco wrote. “We will promptly and vigorously prosecute offenders to protect the rights of American voters, to punish those who engage in this criminal behavior, and to send the unmistakable message that such conduct will not be tolerated.”

Officials across the country, especially in states like Georgia that held high-stakes elections, reported receiving threats. Tricia Raffensperger, wife of Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger who stood firm against former President Donald Trump’s efforts to cajole him into throwing out the state’s election, has received death threats against her and other family members. 

Trump’s campaign to overturn the 2020 election, based on his evidence-free allegations that the election was “rigged,” spurred his followers to home in on previously low-key officials as perpetrators of the “fraud.” Infamously, many of those followers breached the U.S. Capitol on January 6, an extension of that effort to extract the election result they wanted by force. 

Read the memo here:

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