Members of Congress in both parties are experiencing a surge in threats and confrontations as a rise in violent political speech has increasingly crossed over into the realm of in-person intimidation and physical altercation. In the months since the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, which brought lawmakers and the vice president within feet of rioters threatening their lives, Republicans and Democrats have faced stalking, armed visits to their homes, vandalism and assaults.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if a senator or House member were killed,” [Senator Susan]. Collins, a Republican serving her fifth term, said in an interview. “What started with abusive phone calls is now translating into active threats of violence and real violence.”
In the five years after President Donald J. Trump was elected in 2016 following a campaign featuring a remarkable level of violent language, the number of recorded threats against members of Congress increased more than tenfold, to 9,625 in 2021, according to figures from the Capitol Police, the federal law enforcement department that protects Congress. In the first quarter of 2022, the latest period for which figures were available, the force opened 1,820 cases. If recent history is any guide, the pace is likely to surge in the coming weeks as the election approaches.