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The names Ricky Shiffer and Richard York have faded from the political lexicon practically before they were known.
Shiffer drove to the FBI office in Cincinnati earlier this month, armed with an AR-15. He later led police on a high-speed chase into a cornfield, more than 50 miles from the city and began firing. Shiffer burrowed down in the cornfield among the ears and tassels for more than six hours. Law enforcement finally shot and killed Shiffer.
Richard York drove to the U.S. Capitol recently in the middle of the night. York rammed a barricade near the East Front of the building. York became the second person to crash a vehicle into a barricade at the Capitol in the past year-and-a-half. York killed himself before anything else happened.
U.S. Capitol Police weren’t so lucky last year.
Noah Green drove his car into a barricade on the Senate side of the Capitol in 2021, killing USCP Officer Billy Evans and injuring another officer.
All of that came just a few months after the riot at the Capitol and shortly after Congressional security forces removed outer rings of fences which encircled the property following the uprising.
Shiffer claimed an allegiance to former President Trump and the MAGA movement. No one is quite sure why York drove his car to the Capitol and killed himself.
Capitol Police Officers pose for a photo at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. (Fox News Digital/Jon Michael Raasch)
These events alarm federal law enforcement officials, especially as there is increasing concern about threats of political violence after the warrant served at Mar-a-Lago. That’s bolstered by some Republicans to seeking to delegitimize the FBI, defund the agency alongside the Department of Justice and support former President Trump.
That isn’t to say there aren’t legitimate questions and even necessary Congressional oversight of the FBI after the Feds searched Mr. Trump’s home earlier this month. In fact, the congressional “Gang of 8” has requested a special briefing on the extraordinary search. The Gang of 8 is comprised of the top two leaders from both parties in the House and Senate along with the chairs and ranking minority members of both Intelligence Committees.
Threats against law enforcement are up. Threats against the federal judiciary are up as well. Consider the case of Nicholas John Roske. He showed up near the home of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh earlier this summer with a Glock 17 pistol and pepper spray. Authorities charged Roske with the attempted murder of Kavanaugh.
Many Republicans upbraided President Biden and other Democrats for not speaking out against threats to Supreme Court justices. They railed against Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., for calling out Kavanaugh and Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch by name when they heard an abortion case from Louisiana two years ago.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. (AP Photo/Amanda Andrade-Rhoades)
“You have released the whirlwind and you will pay the price,” warned Schumer. “You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.”
If the rhetoric is up, the threats often match the volume.
After the FBI served its warrant at Mr. Trump’s home, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., called for defunding the FBI. This comes as GOPers also attack the IRS following passage of the Democrats’ tax, spending and climate bill. IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig just announced a security review of IRS facilities as threats against the agency intensify.
But the attacks on the FBI were significant. Especially since Republicans have claimed so long to stand behind law enforcement. GOPers also railed against progressives like Reps. Cori Bush, D-Mo., Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., who demanded officials defund police departments.
Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Tex., took issue with Greene’s anti-FBI stance and contrasted it to the views of some Democrats during an appearance on CNN.
“It makes us seem like extremist Democrats, right?” said Crenshaw. “And so Marjorie and AOC can go join the defund the law enforcement club if they want. Ninety-nine percent of Republicans are not on that train.”
Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas // Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images / Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
Greene then turned on Crenshaw in a multiple tweet diatribe. She questioned whether her fellow Republican was actually “conservative.” Greene also chided Crenshaw for earning a master’s degree from Harvard.
Greene also tweeted that she had been “swatted” by someone recently. “Swatting” is the term used for someone sending police to someone’s house to harass them under false pretenses.
This is why there is concern about whipping people into a frenzy with vitriol and invective.
Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Calif., suggested that the FBI was “more like a Third Reich” after the search of Mar-a-Lago.
Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, serves as the top GOPer on the Intelligence Committee. Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, is also a member of that panel. The incident at the Cincinnati FBI office unfolded in Wenstrup’s district. Authorities killed Shiffer in a rural county adjacent to the districts both Turner and Wenstrup represent. Turner and Wenstrup tried to lower the temperature on some of the anti-FBI rhetoric now ricocheting around conservative circles at a Capitol Hill press conference. But it’s unclear if that language is louder than the hostility directed at the FBI.
“All of our members of this committee are in full support of the men and women who every day work to keep our nation safe at the FBI and the Department of Justice,” said Turner. “We condemn any actions of violence against any law enforcement personnel.”
FBI agents approaching a crime scene (Getty Images)
“We need the FBI. This country needs an FBI,” said Wenstrup. “We created the FBI for a reason.”
But other GOP members of the Intelligence Committee were more pointed.
“I do not trust the level of leadership that have politicized these great organizations of American justice,” said Rep. Trent Kelly, R-Miss.
“The people around the world want to live under an American FBI and their leadership, not an American KGB,” said Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah.
It’s a roll of the dice as to which message resonates with the public in today’s tense political environment:
Words about respect for the FBI or language likening the Feds to the “Third Reich.
And the FBI scored very few plaudits recently even though it announced finding 121 missing children through part of a sting operation on human trafficking.
Ricky Shiffer already showed up at the Cincinnati FBI office. Right-wing activists doxed many of the agents who executed the Florida raid. There are also safety concerns about the federal magistrate who signed off on the warrant, Bruce Reinhart.
Actions speak louder than words.
So far, there’s lots of action. And the actions might echo the power of the words.
Chad Pergram currently serves as a congressional correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC). He joined the network in September 2007 and is based out of Washington, D.C.