In order to contain domestic terrorist groups, how essential is cooperation with local law enforcement? You write that the original document spoke directly to the role that local officials and community groups should play. How has Wolf’s D.H.S. handled that aspect of this work?
Zolan Kanno-Youngs: Most law enforcement officials would say that information sharing between federal and local law enforcement is crucial to preventing crimes involving extremism.
Under Wolf, those partnerships have been put to the test.
Former senior homeland security officials have raised concerns that the agency has been transformed into a political tool for Trump’s White House, prompting local officials to refrain from working with the agency. An interesting example is in Portland, where armed right-wing activists arrived over the weekend and clashed with demonstrators. One person wearing the hat of a far-right group was also shot and killed.
Senior administration officials, including Wolf, have called for local representatives to accept more assistance from the federal government to quell the unrest. Ted Wheeler, the Democratic mayor of the city, had a simple message in a letter to Trump last week: “Stay away, please.”
The F.B.I. is also responsible for combating domestic terrorism, and you write that since George Floyd’s killing in late May, the bureau has opened investigations into over 300 potential threats. Do we know what kinds of groups the F.B.I. is most concerned with here?
Katie Benner: The Justice Department’s task force is focused on anti-government extremists, no matter whether their ideology is more aligned with far-left or far-right politics. While the department has opened hundreds of domestic terrorism investigations since George Floyd was killed, it has so far charged a far-right extremist group, boogaloo, with crimes that arose from the civil rights protests.
“Somehow, the notion of committing violence in the name of an anti-government dogma — be it antifa, boogaloo, or any of the other espoused ideologies — has been gaining traction at an alarming rate,” a federal prosecutor in Texas testified before lawmakers this summer.