Authorities Investigate Threats to Democratic Lawmakers

The Capitol Police and the F.B.I. are investigating remarks reported to have been made by Roger J. Stone Jr., a longtime Republican operative and informal adviser to former President Donald J. Trump, in which he expressed a desire for the deaths of two Democratic lawmakers in the weeks before the 2020 election, a government official familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

The investigation into Mr. Stone was opened shortly after the website Mediaite released an audio recording in which someone sounding like him can be heard discussing Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York and Representative Eric Swalwell of California, who are among Mr. Trump’s most vocal congressional critics.

“It’s time to do it,” the speaker can be heard saying. “Let’s go find Swalwell. It’s time to do it. Then we’ll see how brave the rest of them are. It’s time to do it. It’s either Swalwell or Nadler has to die before the election. They need to get the message.”

An article by Mediaite accompanying the recording claimed that Mr. Stone made the remarks to an associate, Salvatore Greco, a former New York City policeman, at a restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. But the recording itself does not make clear whom the speaker was addressing.

Mr. Stone has denied making the comments, calling the recording “a deep fake.” He repeated that denial on Tuesday, claiming that “forensic examinations” had shown the recording to be fake. He did not respond to a question about the F.B.I. and Capitol Police investigation.

Both agencies declined to comment on the inquiry.

Mr. Greco, who was dismissed from the Police Department in 2022 after an internal inquiry into his relationship with Mr. Stone, responded to the initial release of the recording on Friday by calling it “political fodder.” Neither he nor his lawyer responded on Tuesday to a message seeking comment about the investigation.

Mr. Stone, a self-described “political dirty trickster,” has a history of making remarks that have either threatened or outright called for violence, though some of his statements have turned out to be more hyperbolic than actually dangerous.

In 2019, during his criminal prosecution on charges of obstructing a congressional inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election, he had members of the far-right Proud Boys put online an image of the judge in the case beside the cross hairs of a rifle. And in a documentary film about his role in helping Mr. Trump remain in power after losing the 2020 election, Mr. Stone was caught on camera laying out plans to create and exploit uncertainty about the election results to help Mr. Trump cling to power.

“Let’s get right to the violence,” he says at one point. “Shoot to kill.”

Federal prosecutors, as part of their investigation into the events of Jan. 6, 2021, examined whether a member of the Proud Boys and other people close to Mr. Stone used an attempt to foment street protests against a potential recount in a 2018 Florida Senate race as a model for the violence that erupted at the Capitol.

That investigation focused on whether the Proud Boy, Jacob Engels, who was with Mr. Stone in Washington on Jan. 5 and 6, had any ties to a Miami-based cryptocurrency promoter who gave Enrique Tarrio, the former leader of the Proud Boys, a document titled “1776 Returns.” The document contained a detailed plan to surveil and storm government buildings around the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Mr. Greco was also with Mr. Stone in Washington on Jan. 5 and 6 and was in contact by phone with Mr. Engels at least 15 times that month and the month before, according to the final report from Mr. Greco’s internal Police Department trial.

Both Mr. Stone and Mr. Greco have adamantly denied having any role in causing or encouraging the violence at the Capitol.

The Capitol Police investigate thousands of threats to lawmakers each year, but only a handful of those inquiries result in charges. The number of recorded threats against members of Congress increased more than tenfold from 2016 to 2021, according to figures from the Capitol Police. Despite that torrent, however, few cases result in arrest.

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