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Biden takes steps to confront domestic violent extremism following Capitol riot

WASHINGTON — In the wake of the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, President Joe Biden is directing the intelligence community to assess the threat of domestic violent extremism in the U.S. and explore new policies to confront extremist networks.

A three-pronged effort, unveiled Friday by Press Secretary Jen Psaki, includes tasking the Office of the Director of National Intelligence with leading a “comprehensive threat assessment” to help shape policies to address the rise of domestic violent extremism. The FBI and Department of Homeland Security will consult on the work.

“The Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol and the tragic deaths and destruction that occurred underscored what we have long known,” Psaki said. “The rise of domestic violent extremism is a serious and growing national security threat. The Biden administration will confront this threat with the necessary resources and resolve.”

President Joe Biden speaks about the coronavirus in the State Dinning Room of the White House, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, in Washington.

The administration’s charge comes two weeks after pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol as Congress counted electoral votes, resulting in five deaths including one death of a police officer. Rioters included organizers of Proud Boys, an extremist group with ties to white nationalism, and other far-right organizations.

Biden also directed the National Security Council to build out its capability to counter domestic violent extremism threats, according to Psaki.

More:Proud Boys organizer Joseph Biggs charged in deadly Capitol riot

The NSA will undertake a policy review, she said, to determine how the government can share information more effectively to address threats, prevent radicalization and disrupt violent extremist networks. She said this will complement work already underway among agencies.

“We need to understand better its current extent and where there might be gaps,” she said.

In addition, Biden has asked all relevant federal departments and agencies to “enhance and accelerate” efforts to combat domestic violent extremism, Psaki said.

Psaki said the White House is committed to developing policies and strategies aimed at  domestic violent extremism that are “based on facts, on objective and rigorous analysis and our respect for constitutionally protected free speech and activities.”

She did not elaborate on what potential policy changes could be ahead.

Reach Joey Garrison on Twitter @joeygarrison.

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