Other posts were more explicit, “I’m just going to say it. [Attorney General Merrick] Garland needs to be assassinated. Simple as that.” Another user posted, “kill all feds.”
Users also encouraged others to post the address of the judge they believe signed off on the search warrant. “I see a rope around his neck,” a comment under a picture of the judge read.
Amid the users on the forum Monday night was a convicted US Capitol rioter.
One reply to the top-rated “lock and load” post came from an account with the username bananaguard62 and asked “Are we not in a cold civil war at this point?”
By combing through bananaguard62’s posts, Advance Democracy, a non-partisan, non-profit organization that conducts public-interest investigations, identified Tyler Welsh Slaeker as running the account.
Slaeker was charged by the Justice Department last summer in connection with the January 6 attack. Slaeker’s in-laws tipped off the FBI about his presence at the Capitol, according to court filings, making him one of the many January 6 rioters who were turned in by family members.
He was initially charged with four nonviolent misdemeanors, and pleaded guilty in June to one count of entering a restricted building. His sentencing is scheduled for November.
It can be difficult to distinguish between empty and serious threats of violence online, but it cannot be ignored, said Daniel J. Jones, a former US Senate investigator who led the investigation into the CIA’s use of torture and now runs Advance Democracy, a non-partisan, non-profit organization that conducts public-interest investigations.
“We are seeing conspiratorial rhetoric from elected officials, political leaders, and political entertainers that is fueling calls for real-world violence,” Jones said. “The conspiratorial and divisive rhetoric — from elected officials and others who should know better — is continuing to undermine our institutions and democracy at an alarming rate.”
A congressional security official told CNN shortly after news of the search warrant broke Monday night, US Capitol Police began discussions about monitoring and planning for potential violent rhetoric.
Of particular concern is the possibility violence could be directed at members of Congress or other federal law enforcement, the security official said.
The Capitol Police declined to comment on security plans.
One post CNN found called for violence against FBI agents. The FBI declined to comment on the post or wider security concerns due to violent rhetoric.
After the January 6 attack, alternative social media platforms became more popular among Trump supporters after companies like Facebook and Twitter banned Trump and some other prominent figures who spread election conspiracy theories.
But talk of violence isn’t exclusive to the more fringe platforms.
Jones, whose group Advance Democracy has been tracking online threats since the FBI raid on Monday, said political leaders posting on their main social media accounts are stoking more violent rhetoric.
“The attack on the Capitol on January 6th showed that we can’t ignore calls for political violence online — no matter how fringe the theories are behind those calls for violence,” Jones said.
CNN’s Whitney Wild and Marshall Cohen contributed to this report.