Attorney General Merrick B. Garland and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas told Senators on Wednesday that the greatest domestic threat to the United States comes from what they both describe as “racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists”.

“Especially those who advocate the superiority of the white race,” Garland told the Senate Committee on Funds.

Cabinet secretaries’ appearances represented a dramatic change from the tone of the Trump administration, as the threat posed by white supremacists and similar groups was deliberately downplayed, in part to raise the profile of what former President Donald J. Trump posed as violent threats Radical denoted left groups.

Last year, the former head of Homeland Security’s Intelligence Department filed a whistleblower complaint accusing the department of blocking an intelligence report on the threat of violent racism and describing white supremacists as “exceptionally fatal in their heinous targeted attacks in recent years. “The official accused

“The department is taking a new approach to combating domestic violent extremism, both internally and externally,” Mayorkas told the senators on Wednesday.

While Justice and Homeland Security have long been involved in fighting violent extremism in the country, Biden government officials have stated that the January 6 pro-Trump riots in the Capitol created an urgent need to get stronger focus on domestic extremism.

But the Senate Republicans didn’t share that focus. Top Republican on the committee, Senator Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, said the Democrats politicized the issue by calling domestic violent extremists right-wing extremists. He equated the riots with the protests against police violence in the summer of 2020.

Other republicans on the committee grilled the attorney general and the chief of homeland security over border security and other immigration issues.

The Justice Department is investigating the January 6 riot and has arrested more than 430 people nationwide, Garland said. Only last week did prosecutors start informally negotiating plea agreements. Some of the defendants fought the charges.