Update On The January Sixth Committee


Ian Schmutzler, Writer

As the January Sixth Committee hearings continue, responses have become more extreme. On sites such as Patriots.win and 4chan, there has been a massive amount of messages calling for violence against Democratic politicians and witnesses testifying before the January Sixth Committee against Donald Trump. There have also been crimes conducted against certain US politicians, and protective measures have been enacted for several key officials for these proceedings.


After the testimony of Cassidy Hutchison before the committee, a wave of threats has emerged on sites under less regulation. On 4chan—a social media site which promises anonymity—many treated the subject in a joking manner, with one post s “She’d be fun to smash … with a hammer”. On a different forum, some were more blunt with the subject with one post expressing “Cassidy Hutchison must get the death penalty that is all”.


These threats have been incredibly widespread online, with many being posted onto platforms which have much looser regulations regarding harassment and threats. These include, but are not limited to, Gab, 4chan, the .win forums and Truth Social, a social media platform created by Trump. The threats have been directed at many people connected with the hearings, with Hutchison being a major target due to recent testimony which presents Trump in an extremely negative light.


The threats have brought up concerns regarding the response of the MAGA supporters should future elections go poorly for their movement or should criminal charges be brought against Trump. Much of the MAGA platform has been dedicated to pushing theories about anti-republican election fraud that have been repeatedly debunked, and has advocated resisting elections they perceive to be false. The United States has a history of political violence, with the legacies of the Ruby Ridge and Oklahoma City Bombing establishing a fear of attacks in government employees. For safety reasons, the Capitol Police, FBI and DOJ have declined to comment on the measures they are taking against the situation.


Many people beyond Hutchison and the committee members have been threatened. Russell Bowers, the speaker of the Arizona house of representatives, killed off a bill that would give the house more control over election results and had testified before the January Sixth Committee that Rudy Giuliani had confessed ¨We have a lot of theories, we just don’t have the evidence.¨ He has been on the receiving end of many threats, with Senator Kelly Townsend calling on her supporters to protest outside his house. Mark Milley, a member of the Joint Chiefs, condemned the January Sixth Attack and was quoted as comparing the attack to the Reichstag Fire. One Gab user commented that he “needs to be charged, prosecuted, and then executed for treason.”


Spokespeople representing the sites where these threats have emerged have condemned the threats and say that they will cooperate with law enforcement in any investigations. However, given their history and their notoriety for loose regulations, the possibility of them not following through on these promises has been brought up.


With the abundance of online threats, many Democratic lawmakers have pushed to create legislation that would enforce stricter regulation online. This would give websites legal immunity in incidents of digital harassment and stalking so long as they can prove they took action against the offenders. However, all attempts have been bogged down due to partisanship and concerns over how such legislation might affect racial and gender discrimination online.