Jan 18, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Congressional threat investigations finally fell in 2022

Capitol Police threat assessment cases
Data: United States Capitol Police; Chart: Tory Lysik/Axios Visuals

Investigations into threats against members of Congress decreased last year for the first time since former President Trump took office in 2017, according to data released by the Capitol Police on Tuesday.

The big picture: The number of threat assessment cases remains startlingly high — nearly double what it was five years ago — which congressional security officials chalked up to inflammatory political rhetoric.

Driving the news: Capitol Police opened 7,501 investigations into direct threats and "concerning statements" towards lawmakers, down from 9,625 in 2021 — the year of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, the department said in a press release.

  • Cases rose steadily each year leading up to 2021 — from just under 4,000 in 2017 to 5,206 in 2018, 6,955 in 2019 and 8,613 in 2020.

What caught our eye: Democrats and Republicans received a "similar" number of threats, according to the press release.

Yes, but: 2022 also saw one of the most grisly and high-profile attacks on a member of Congress' family member in recent memory.

What they're saying: “The threats against Members of Congress are still too high,” Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said in a statement.

  • "This has resulted in a necessary expansion of, not only our investigative capabilities, but our protection responsibilities as well. While that work is ongoing, everyone continuing to decrease violent political rhetoric across the country is the best way to keep everyone safe."
  • Dr. Mario Scalora, the Capitol Police's consulting psychologist, said in a statement threats have increased "during the last couple of decades."
  • Scalora chalked the trend up to "people on social media hav[ing] a false sense of anonymity and feel[ing] more emboldened."
Go deeper