The mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton that left at least 31 dead have raised questions among lawmakers and former officials about the Trump administration’s efforts to thwart domestic terrorism, and the resources the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security are allocating toward that mission.
"We need to invest more — no question," Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said Tuesday on "CBS This Morning."
President Trump on Monday said his administration has asked the FBI to identify all additional resources it needs to “investigate and disrupt hate crimes and domestic terrorism” and vowed to provide the bureau with “whatever they need.”
But resources dedicated to fighting domestic terrorism have reportedly been cut under the Trump administration:
- The Los Angeles Times reports that, despite evidence of a rise in domestic terrorism incidents involving white supremacists, “the Department of Homeland Security, which is charged with identifying threats and preventing domestic terrorism, has sought to redirect resources away from countering anti-government, far-right and white supremacist groups.”
- The Times and NBC News report that a former DHS official testified before Congress in June that the department had made significant cuts since 2017 to the office handling domestic terrorism, reducing a staff of 16 full-time employees and 25 contractors with a total budget of about $21 million to fewer than 10 full-time employees and an operating budget of $2.6 million. “You have some very dedicated government employees still at the office dealing with terrorism prevention and just trying to keep the lights on,” an Obama administration counterterrorism official told the Times.
- The Trump administration reportedly decided not to renew the Obama administration’s Countering Violent Extremism Grant Program and canceled a $400,000 grant for the only grantee that specifically fought white supremacism. Under Trump, 85% of the DHS “Countering Violent Extremism” grants have explicitly targeted Muslims and other minority groups, according to a 2018 analysis by the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law. That report also found that the Trump administration had nearly tripled the amount of funding flowing directly to law enforcement agencies under those programs, from about $764,000 to $2,340,000.
McAleenan, the Homeland Security chief, told CBS that he has asked Congress for additional funding to bolster the department’s fight against domestic terrorism and said he would like to triple the staff available to address such risks.