An increase in threats against US lawmakers over the past two years has also extended to their family members, according to federal law enforcement officials, and a lack of federal protections for family members has frustrated some members of Congress.
Security details for lawmakers, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, do not protect their family members, including spouses, when members of Congress are not with them, according to multiple sources. Some lawmakers have received additional security in their home districts from local police departments and private contractors.
After the attack on Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi, GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger told CNN that the threats against his own family included one that mentioned killing his toddler. But when he asked the US Capitol Police for additional security, they essentially told him to “get in line,” Kinzinger said.
Like other lawmakers, Kinzinger’s security detail does not protect his family when he is not with them, and the lack of assistance from the Capitol Police has meant his campaign has had to foot the bill for additional security.
Calls for violence against lawmakers online and elsewhere have referred to both elected officials and their families, according to sources familiar with the threat landscape, who told CNN that law enforcement agencies have struggled with how to deal with those threats in the wake of Jan. 6. 2021, attack on the US capital.
In the months following the January 6 uprising, Capitol Police and other law enforcement agencies worked to increase protections for members of Congress when they are in Washington, DC and traveling back to their home districts.
Capitol Police declined to comment when asked Friday about safety for lawmakers’ families.
A senior Capitol Hill aide tells CNN that Capitol Police are now evaluating additional security options to protect families of congressional leadership.
Federal law enforcement agencies have consistently warned of the growing threat of politically motivated violence after January 6, raising specific concerns about the likelihood of online calls for violence resulting in real-world attacks.
According to the latest statistics, the Capitol Police tracked about 9,600 threats in 2021 against the people and places the department is charged with protecting. It is unclear how many threats were made against family members.
Several lawmakers have sought additional protection from the US Capitol Police after receiving threats against their families, but the agency largely lacks the resources and training to fill those requests, according to a source familiar with the matter.