The attacks against Hutchinson are part of a broader pattern of violent threats on fringe social networks directed at witnesses testifying before Congress about the Capitol insurrection. Since the committee began hosting prime-time hearings in June, the nonprofit Advance Democracy has identified a tide of vitriol targeting key witnesses and prominent Jan. 6 committee lawmakers on online forums with reputations for fostering extremism and right-wing views. They include Gab, the .win forums and Truth Social, former president Donald Trump’s social media company.
Advance Democracy’s findings show those threats continue to flourish online, jeopardizing the committee’s efforts to obtain a clear accounting of the assault on democracy. Some of the posts and comments contain calls to organize armed groups and suggest a willingness to engage in a further violent insurrection.
The committee has been probing the role that online platforms, ranging from fringe sites to Facebook and Twitter, played in inciting the violence at the Capitol that left five people dead, dozens of police officers injured and hundreds facing prosecution. The continuing violent rhetoric is a troubling sign of what could come, especially as Trump and his allies push false narratives about President Biden’s victory in the 2020 election, researchers say.