Just as a new report was released showing the continued rise of hate groups in the United States, federal authorities say they have thwarted a plan by a white nationalist “domestic terrorist” to begin widespread, violent attacks on President Donald Trump’s perceived political opponents with the aim of establishing “a white homeland.”
U.S. Coast Guard Lieutenant Christopher Paul Hasson was arrested late last week, the Washington Post reported Wednesday, after investigators accused him of stockpiling weapons to carry out his plans. Hasson had compiled a long list of targets including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), MSNBC anchor Joe Scarborough, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) as well as other politicians and journalists.
In court documents, the U.S. government wrote, “The defendant intends to murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country.”
Hasson’s arrest was reported a day after the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) unveiled research showing that for the fourth year in a row, the number of hate groups operating in the U.S. has grown. The group pointed to Trump’s racist rhetoric and policies as well as his history of openly applauding violence against the press and his critics, as a key reason behind the growing prevalence of organized hate.
“The number of hate groups operating across America rose to a record high—1,020—in 2018 as President Trump continued to fan the flames of white resentment over immigration and the country’s changing demographics,” the SPLC reported.
Based on recent internet searches federal investigators uncovered, Hasson appeared to be planning an attack against Trump’s detractors. In January he searched for the phrase, “civil war if trump impeached” and “what if trump illegally impeached.”
“This president is not simply a polarizing figure but a radicalizing one,” Heidi Beirich, director of the SPLC’s Intelligence Project, said of the group’s findings. “Rather than trying to tamp down hate, as presidents of both parties have done, President Trump elevates it—with both his rhetoric and his policies. In doing so, he’s given people across America the go-ahead to act on their worst instincts.”
In January investigators found Hasson had also conducted internet searches for a number of phrases indicating he planned to get access to his targets, including “best place in dc to see congress people” and “where in dc to congress live.” [sic]
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