Biden administration expects early focus on domestic extremism threat
Posted January 19, 2021 10:53 a.m. EST
CNN — The Biden administration will make domestic terrorism a significant focus of the National Security Council, a reflection of the significant threat the country is facing as it deals with the aftermath of the Capitol Hill riots, a person familiar with the matter tells CNN.
President-elect Joe Biden's national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, is expected to conduct an early, comprehensive assessment of the threat to develop strategies for countering it, another source familiar with the plans told CNN.
The incoming administration is expected to make a series of early announcements of NSC personnel focused on the threat, the first source said.
The new administration will lean on some career staff who have worked in the Trump administration, like Russ Travers as Deputy Homeland Security Adviser, who has a deep background in the topic. Travers previously served as head of the National Counterterrorism Center under President Donald Trump but was fired last March.
Domestic extremism was already a concern for the Biden administration before January 6 but the urgency has increased since the riot, the second source added.
Biden's pick for DHS secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, told lawmakers Tuesday that if confirmed he'll ensure an attack like the one on the US Capitol "will not happen again."
"The love for this country that I learned from my parents made the January 6 attack on the Capitol all the more horrifying," Mayorkas is expected to say, alluding to his background as an immigrant.
"We still have much to learn about what happened that day and what led up to the insurrection. If I should have the honor of being confirmed, I will do everything I can to ensure that the tragic loss of life, the assault on law enforcement, the desecration of the building that stands as one of the three pillars of our democracy, and the terror felt by you, your colleagues, staff, and everyone present, will not happen again," he added.
News that the Biden team plans to make this a significant area of focus early on comes as DHS, the FBI and other agencies are warning that domestic extremists pose the most likely threat to the presidential inauguration, particularly those who believe the incoming administration is illegitimate.
CNN previously reported that federal law enforcement officials are warning that domestic extremists are likely more emboldened to carry out attacks on Biden's upcoming inauguration and throughout 2021 after seeing the success of the siege on the US Capitol.