Combating Domestic Terrorism and Right-Wing Violent Extremism

Despite the documented rise in violent right-wing extremism, the Trump administration has taken steps to weaken the federal government’s response to the growing crisis. We’re investigating cuts to funding for a countering domestic terrorism program, the role of key offices within the Department of Homeland Security, and the installation of political appointees with anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim views.

Background

Recent years have seen a troubling increase in domestic terrorism motivated by far-right ideology. A 2018 Washington Post analysis found that white supremacist and far-right violence has risen since Barack Obama’s presidency and “has surged since President Trump took office.” And in June 2019, a senior FBI counterterrorism official said that the agency had seen a significant increase in the number of white supremacist terrorism cases in the preceding months.

Despite this worrying trend, President Donald Trump’s administration has scaled back its efforts in combating such violence. After the 2016 election, the president’s transition team told Department of Homeland Security officials that it planned to shift the focus of such programs almost exclusively on radical Islam. Grants previously awarded through the department’s Countering Violent Extremism program for groups aimed at fighting radicalism and neo-Nazism were rescinded shortly after the president took office. And according to the Brennan Center, 85 percent of CVE grants now explicitly target violence by Muslims and other minority groups.

Other administration actions remain unclear. A new Office for Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention was announced in April 2019 and appears to be, according to the Los Angeles Times, a “rebranding of an Obama-era initiative” with only a quarter of the staffing and about 10 percent the funding. 

American Oversight is investigating the government’s response to right-wing terrorism, seeking information on how it has dealt with mass shootings and other incidents, and looking into the influence that outside anti-immigrant groups and certain political appointees have had on federal policy.

What We’re Seeking

  • Communications and records from the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security regarding the scope of the Countering Violent Extremism program;
  • Talking points prepared by the Departments of Justice or Homeland Security, or sent to those agencies by the White House, in response to the 2018 shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue and the 2018 mailing of pipe bombs sent to prominent Democratic Party officials;
  • Information about the number of intelligence analysts working on domestic terrorism threats;
  • Communications that DHS official Katharine Gorka had with outside anti-immigrant and right-wing national security groups, as well as her calendars since early 2017;
  • Communications and records from the Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation related to an August 2017 intelligence report about “Black Identity Extremism”;
  • Records from the Department of Homeland Security related to the April 2017 Government Accountability Office report “Countering Violent Extremism”;
  • Records that show who is working in the DHS Office for Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention, and what the office’s purpose and official duties are; and
  • Records from DHS reflecting data about people killed or injured by domestic terrorism since 2009.

Related Documents

October 30, 2019

DOJ Records Regarding White House Responses to Pipe Bombs

Department of Justice
Agency Record
September 12, 2019

Rejection from FBI Regarding Domestic Terrorism Data Since 2009

Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation
Agency Reply
August 22, 2019

FOIA to DHS Requesting Data about Domestic Terrorism

Department of Homeland Security
FOIA Request
August 22, 2019

FOIA to FBI Requesting Data about Domestic Terrorism

Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation
FOIA Request
August 22, 2019

FOIA to FBI Requesting Evidence Underlying Congressional Testimony About Domestic Terrorism and White Supremacy

Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation
FOIA Request
August 5, 2019

DHS Talking Points Regarding Pipe Bombs and Pittsburgh Mass Shooting in October 2018

Department of Homeland Security
Agency Record
May 31, 2019

DHS Response to FOIA Request for Information Relating to Domestic Terrorism Threats

Department of Homeland Security
Agency Record
May 21, 2019

FOIA to DHS Seeking Records Related to the Office for Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention

Department of Homeland Security
FOIA Request
May 1, 2019

FBI Records Regarding the Release of a Report on “Black Identity Extremists”

Department of Justice
Agency Record
January 24, 2019

FOIA to DHS Seeking Communications with External Entities Regarding CVE Grant Program

Department of Homeland Security
FOIA Request
January 24, 2019

FOIA to DHS Seeking Communications with White House Regarding CVE Grant Program

Department of Homeland Security
FOIA Request
January 24, 2019

FOIA to DHS Regarding GAO Report on Countering Violent Extremism

Department of Homeland Security
FOIA Request
January 24, 2019

FOIA to DOJ/FBI Regarding GAO Report on Countering Violent Extremism

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
January 24, 2019

FOIA to CBP Regarding Demographic Profile Report

Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security
FOIA Request
January 24, 2019

FOIA to DHS Regarding Scope of CVE Programs

Department of Homeland Security
FOIA Request
January 24, 2019

FOIA to DOJ Regarding Scope of CVE Programs

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
January 24, 2019

FOIA to DOJ/FBI Regarding “Black Identity Extremist” Designations

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
January 24, 2019

FOIA to DOJ & FBI Regarding “Black Identity Extremists” Intelligence Assessment

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
January 9, 2019

FOIA to DHS Regarding the Decision to Dismantle the Extremism and Radicalization Branch

Department of Homeland Security
FOIA Request
December 20, 2018

No Records Response from DHS Regarding Charlottesville Response

Department of Homeland Security
Agency Reply
November 7, 2018

VA Records Concerning Response to 2017 Charlottesville Violence

Department of Veterans Affairs
Agency Record
April 12, 2018

NRR From VA Regarding Charlottesville

Department of Veterans Affairs
FOIA Request
August 25, 2017

FOIA Request to DHS regarding the events in Charlottesville

Department of Homeland Security
FOIA Request
August 25, 2017

FOIA Request to DOJ regarding the events in Charlottesville

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
August 25, 2017

FOIA Request to DOL regarding the events in Charlottesville

Department of Labor
FOIA Request
August 25, 2017

FOIA Request to DOT regarding the events in Charlottesville

Department of Transportation
FOIA Request
August 25, 2017

FOIA Request to ED regarding the events in Charlottesville

Department of Education
FOIA Request
August 25, 2017

FOIA Request to HUD regarding the events in Charlottesville

Department of Housing and Urban Development
FOIA Request
August 25, 2017

FOIA Request to State Department regarding the events in Charlottesville

Department of State
FOIA Request
August 25, 2017

FOIA Request to Treasury regarding the events in Charlottesville

Department of the Treasury
FOIA Request
August 25, 2017

FOIA Request to VA regarding the events in Charlottesville

Department of Veterans Affairs
FOIA Request