Trump's DOJ hid shocking report on growing terror threat from white supremacists

Hidden report shows white supremacists were responsible for every race-based domestic terror attack in 2018

By Igor Derysh

Managing Editor

Published August 9, 2019 3:24PM (EDT)

 (AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Steve Helber)
(AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Steve Helber)

The Justice Department suppressed a report showing that suspected white supremacists were responsible for all race-based domestic terror incidents last year.

The report by New Jersey’s Office of Homeland Security Preparedness was distributed throughout DHS and to federal agencies like the FBI earlier this year before it was obtained by Yahoo News. The document includes data Congress has sought from the Trump administration but the Justice Department has been “unable or unwilling” to provide.

The report shows that 25 of 46 suspects in 32 domestic terrorism incidents were identified as white supremacists. The 25 suspected white supremacist suspects were responsible for all “race-based” incidents while others were deemed “anti-government extremists” and “single-issue extremists.”

“This map reflects 32 domestic terrorist attacks, disrupted plots, threats of violence, and weapons stockpiling by individuals with a radical political or social agenda who lack direction or influence from foreign terrorist organizations in 2018,” the report said. 

The map and data in the document were circulated through the DOJ and law enforcement agencies in April, which is around the time that the Senate Judiciary Committee requested the DOJ provide data showing the number of white supremacists involved in domestic terrorism. 

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., told Yahoo News that the committee still has not received the data.

“I’m troubled by the lack of transparency, given that we haven’t received this critical information after several requests to the FBI and DOJ,” Booker said. “They cannot and should not remain silent in the face of such a dangerous threat.”

An aide to Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who also sits on the committee, told the outlet that the DOJ and FBI both told the panel they were “unable or unwilling to provide precise data on white supremacist terrorism, and neither agency has responded to our repeated follow-up questions since the briefing.”

The request to the DOJ came after the Trump administration consolidated 11 categories it used to identify domestic terrorism to four. One of the categories was a catch-all “racially-motivated violent extremism.”

“This new category inappropriately combines incidents involving white supremacists and so-called ‘Black identity extremists,’ a fabricated term based on a faulty assessment of a small number of isolated incidents,” the committee’s Democrats said in a letter to Attorney General Bill Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray. The letter said the senators were “deeply concerned that this reclassification downplays the significance of the white supremacist threat.”

The letter also noted that the senators were not provided with data they had requested at earlier hearings and briefings. 

Durbin’s aide accused the Trump administration of trying to make it more difficult to track violence by white supremacists by obscuring it under the “race-based extremists” label.

“The Trump administration’s irresponsible decision to stop tracking white supremacist incidents as a separate category of domestic terrorism obfuscates the extent of this threat,” Durbin’s aide told Yahoo News. “This highlights the problem with not specifically tracking white supremacist attacks. If we do not understand the scope of this problem, we cannot effectively combat it.”

Obfuscation appears to be the game plan. Asked what he would do to combat white supremacy on Wednesday, Trump both-sided the issue like he did after Charlottesville. “I don’t like it,” he said,” whether it’s white supremacy, whether it’s any other kind of supremacy. Whether it’s antifa.”

It isn’t just rhetoric. The Trump administration has taken numerous steps to roll back efforts to combat white supremacist groups while pushing for increased legal action against Antifa by labeling them a terrorist group.

Under Trump, the Department of Homeland Security has redirected resources away from fighting far-right and white supremacist groups. The Los Angeles Times reported that DHS had slashed its office handling domestic terrorism from $21 million and 41 full-time or contracted employees to just $2.6 million and 10 full-time employees in 2017. 

The Trump administration also declined to renew an Obama administration Countering Violent Extremism Grant Program and canceled the only grant specifically aimed at combating white supremacism. Since Trump took over, 85 percent of the DHS “Countering Violent Extremism” have instead targeted Muslims and other minority groups, according to an analysis by the Brennan Center for Justice.

“While white supremacy is not a new phenomenon in America, it’s incredibly troubling the way the movement has been emboldened,” Sen. Booker told Yahoo News, “and the administration’s efforts to obfuscate the data on these terrorist incidents simply defies logic.”

By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's managing editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

MORE FROM Igor Derysh