Sep 10, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Rep. Jayapal: Rising threats against Congress linked to Trump rhetoric

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wa.) holds a press conference.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) holds a press conference. Photo: Jovelle Tamayo/ for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Rep. Parmila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said there's a link between rising threats against lawmakers and rhetoric from the Republican Party.

Why it matters: Members of Congress have faced an increasing amount of threats in recent months from the public.

Driving the news: Jayapal recently shared a series of threatening voicemails she received from Trump supporters as a way to show "what's at stake" for America, she told MSNBC.

  • In the messages, a male caller can be heard threatening Jayapal, the first-ever Indian American congresswoman. She is asked to return to India.
  • Jayapal was previously threatened by an armed man outside her home.

What she said: "Typically, political figures don't show their vulnerability," she wrote in a tweet Thursday. "I chose to do so here because we cannot accept violence as our new norm. We also cannot accept the racism and sexism that underlies and propels so much of this violence."

  • "There is a sense that everything is so unfair and it's been propelled by Donald Trump," she told MSNBC. "The only recourse is to violence, and that is an extremely dangerous thing."
  • "We saw it come to fruition on Jan. 6. And now in ways that I've seen outside my door," she added.

The big picture: Threats against lawmakers jumped by 144% between 2017 and 2021, according to data shared with Axios.

What we've seen: Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) released a three-minute collection of threatening voicemails he received back in July in which one caller threatened his wife and baby.

  • Kinzinger said in July his family received a death threat over the Jan. 6 select committee hearings.
  • Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), was attacked at a campaign event this summer.
  • Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) told Axios that "everybody's on high alert" due to these incidents.

What we're watching: U.S. House has offered to pay for lawmakers to add security upgrades to their homes, Axios Seattle's Melissa Santos writes.

Go deeper: Congress on "high alert" amid security threats

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