Man arrested for violence threats against FBI as tensions over Mar-a-Lago search jitter U.S.

2022-08-17 08:37:36Xinhua Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

A Pennsylvania man has been arrested on charges of making threats of violence against personnel of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

Adam Bies, 46, of Mercer, was arrested late Friday, according to a press release. He made an initial appearance in federal court in Pittsburgh on Monday and remains in custody pending a detention hearing.

According to court documents, on or around Aug. 11, an FBI unit received a tip regarding Gab user "BlankFocus" -- later identified as Bies -- who allegedly posted violent threats toward the FBI and law enforcement.

"You've declared war on us and now it's open season on YOU," Bies allegedly wrote on the social media network popular with conservatives and some far-right individuals.

Bies is charged with influencing, impeding, or retaliating against federal law enforcement officers, the DOJ said.

If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

The FBI and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security reportedly warned of an increase in threats against federal law enforcement in a joint internal bulletin issued last week following the search of former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate.

The bulletin cited online calls for "civil war" and "armed rebellion," as well as an incident at the FBI's Cincinnati field office last week in which an armed man attempted to breach the building.

In the wake of the threats, the FBI has placed a protective fence around its headquarters in Washington, D.C.

"Calls for violence against law enforcement are unacceptable, and should be condemned by all leaders," said Brian O'Hare, president of the FBI Agents Association.

Trump has slammed what he called a "raid" on his residence in Palm Beach, Florida while denying allegations that he had mishandled classified information.

An unsealed warrant for the Mar-a-Lago search showed FBI agents had been authorized to seize any physical documents with classification markings, as well as information "regarding the retrieval, storage, or transmission of national defense information or classified material."

It also allowed investigators to take any government records created during the Trump presidency and "any evidence of the knowing alteration, destruction, or concealment of any government and/or Presidential Records, or of any documents with classification markings."

A "receipt for property" included 33 seized items, including 11 sets of documents described either as "classified/TS/SCI," "top secret," "secret," or "confidential."

The warrant also listed three potential criminal violations -- concealment or removal of federal records, destruction or alteration of records in a federal investigation, and transmitting defense information.

Trump claimed on his social media platform, "Truth Social," on Monday that the FBI "stole" three passports, one of which he said was expired.

"This was an assault on a political opponent at a level never seen before in our country," the Republican wrote.

CBS News reported on Tuesday that passports taken by the FBI during the search have been returned to Trump, citing a law enforcement source.

The source, according to CBS News, said that the passports were given back after they were discovered by a group of federal investigators who screen the materials seized during the execution of a search warrant for privileged or extraneous information.

Since the FBI operation, Trump and his supporters have repeatedly criticized the FBI and the DOJ, decrying what they see as political attacks aimed at undermining him.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland told reporters last week that he personally "approved the decision to seek a search warrant in this matter" and sought to brush off "unfounded attacks" against federal law enforcement.

"We do not interfere. We do not get briefed. We do not get involved," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Sunday. "This is a law enforcement matter. And the Department of Justice is going to move forward as they see fit."

The DOJ said in a court filing Monday that it opposes any attempts to unseal the affidavit laying out the probable cause for the search of Mar-a-Lago.

"The affidavit supporting the search warrant presents a very different set of considerations," the filing read. "There remain compelling reasons, including to protect the integrity of an ongoing law enforcement investigation that implicates national security, that support keeping the affidavit sealed."

In a different post on "Truth Social" late Monday night, Trump called for the "immediate release of the completely Unredacted Affidavit pertaining to this horrible and shocking BREAK-IN."

Heading into the election season this year, Democratic voters -- 42 percent -- are just as likely as Republican voters -- 41 percent -- to say the word "angry" describes how they feel about the midterms "very" or "somewhat" well, according to the latest Morning Consult State of the Parties survey.


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