Some of Donald Trump's most fervent supporters believe the former president will be inaugurated Thursday, and law enforcement is on guard for another possible assault on democratic institutions less than two months after the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection.
NBC News reporter Brandy Zadrozny covers online extremism and conspiracy theories, and she said the chatter around March 4 isn't quite as loud as the noise ahead of the U.S. Capitol assault that left five dead -- but Congress has canceled its session and the National Guard has mobilized just in case.
"It's very different," Zadrozny said. "You know, the conversation before the 6th was clear because we saw it all online. People were planning, they had flyers, they specifically said what they're going to do, how they were going to do it. It [was] just very, very clear."
"It's a little bit weird," she added. "It's based in this conspiracy theory from Qanon that this is very silly and stupid, but, you know, humor me, that Donald Trump today will be inaugurated as the 19th president. It borrows a lot from the sovereign citizen movement, these people believe no laws have been real since Ulysses S. Grant. That is where there is danger, actually. It's hard to say these people are militia groups, the 'Boogaloo' groups and Qanon groups. There has been a sort of melding of these groups."
Although the chatter isn't quite as loud, Zadrozny said law enforcement is still preparing for possible violence.
"The Capitol police and the FBI warnings weren't clear what those [threats] were," she said. "There could be militia groups planning today to do something. There could be other radical extremists, white power people, planning something to do. But what makes us breathe a little easier, these groups like to hide what they are doing under larger political movements like the Boogaloo Bois and Black Lives Matter. Over the summer or we saw, at the Capitol, militia groups weaving their way into more generic MAGA crowds."
There is one major reason why Thursday isn't expected to be quite as volatile as Jan. 6, Zadrozny said.
"We're not going to have those large crowds today because we don't have a president of the United States anymore telling every supporter he has to come to the Capitol and support this big lie," Zadrozny said.
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