Durbin Delivers Opening Statement In Judiciary Committee Hearing On Domestic Terrorism

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today delivered an opening statement at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing entitled “The Domestic Terrorism Threat One Year After January 6.”  Today’s hearing follows the Committee’s domestic terrorism oversight hearing with FBI Director Christopher Wray in March 2021, where Durbin emphasized his longstanding concern over the rise of violent white supremacists and other far-right extremists and the federal government’s efforts to combat this threat. 


Key quotes:


“I first held a hearing on the domestic terrorism threat in 2012, after a white supremacist murdered seven Sikh worshipers in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.  Today, ten years later, that threat is worse. That’s why I’ve convened the Senate Judiciary Committee’s first hearing of this year to consider this subject.”


“The insurrection should be a wake-up call.  A reminder that America is still confronted with the age-old menace that has taken on new life in the 21st century: terror from white supremacists, militia members, and other extremists who use violence to further their twisted agendas.”


“Last March, FBI Director Wray told this Committee that the threat of domestic terrorism is, ‘metastasizing across the country’—and ‘not going away any time soon.’”


“Whether the boosters of the ‘Big Lie’ know it or not, they are playing with fire.  By supporting the false narrative that the 2020 election was somehow stolen or rigged, they have rationalized the worst assault on our Capitol since the War of 1812.  And in turn, they are normalizing the use of violence to achieve political goals.”


“Over the past two years, our nation’s public servants have faced a wave of violence.  One survey found that nearly one in five local election officials have been threatened with violence because of their work during the 2020 election cycle.  We’ve seen an appalling rise in violent outbursts on airplanes, in school board meetings, and in other spheres of public life.  And we’ve seen unacceptable—and in some cases deadly—violence toward law enforcement officers.”


“So, at the outset of today’s hearing, I would like to respectfully request that every member of this Committee use this hearing to explicitly condemn the use—or threat—of violence to advance political goals.  It’s a simple request, but sadly, a necessary one.  This Committee should speak with a unified voice in saying that violence is unacceptable.”


“This is not an issue of ideology. Violent extremism exists on both ends of the political spectrum.  And whether an act of violence is being committed by a white supremacist in the Capitol, or a far-left extremist at a riot in Portland, it is unacceptable and inexcusable all the same.”


“We also need to understand the nature of the threat.  As senior law enforcement and intelligence officials have warned: the biggest domestic terrorism threat today stems from white supremacists and violent militia extremists, some of whom are working in America to topple our democracy.”


“That’s why I have proposed the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act, which I first introduced in 2017.  It will ensure state and local law enforcement have the resources and data to prevent acts of domestic terror and white supremacist violence, and makes sure that law enforcement officials have the resources they need.”


“During today’s hearing, I hope we’ll learn what steps the Justice Department and FBI are taking to keep our communities, our country, and officers safe… and I hope this Committee will be unequivocal in condemning violence wherever it’s sourced on the political spectrum.”


“No more cowering before any mob. Our democracy is in the crosshairs of domestic terrorism.  It’s time to take a stand.  The only way to prevent a reoccurrence of a deadly insurrection like January 6 is by joining together in defense of our Constitution and the rule of law.”


Video of Durbin’s opening statement is available here.


Audio of Durbin’s opening statement is available here.


Footage of Durbin’s opening statement is available here for TV Stations.