All of this has been a strain on the Counter-Terrorism Department, which has only a few dozen prosecutors, and like other parts of the department, has been affected by the coronavirus. A top F.B.I. The head of domestic terrorism last summer expressed concern to Justice Department officials about the diversion of resources.
The Counter-Terrorism Division at the time was working with prosecutors and agents across the country on cases involving individuals associated with the Three Percent, oath-keepers, other militia members and violent white supremacists. In some parts of the country, agents investigating violent white supremacists turned to investigate anarchists and others involved in the riots and, in certain cases, fought to find a conspiracy or other federal charges against them.
Around the same time, the F.B.I. tracked worrying far-right threats. Agents in Michigan monitoring members of a violent anti-government militia called Wolverine Watchmen received news in June that the men were about to recruit more members and kidnap governors. according to court records.
After six members of the group were accused in October of plotting to kidnap Ms. Whitmer, one of Mr. Trump’s most vocal opponents, the President insulted them, reiterating that the real threat was the left. “She calls me a white supremacist – while Biden and Democrats refuse to condemn antifas, anarchists, looters and mobs who are burning down Democratic-run cities,” Trump said on Twitter.
Dozens of F.B.I. Staff and officers were temporarily posted to Portland – including the head of the Tampa field office who current and former law enforcement officials said was an expert on Islamic terrorism – where leftist protests had intensified since the arrival of the federal tactical teams.
Some F.B.I. Justice Department agents and officials expressed concern that the work in Portland was weighing on the bureau’s efforts to combat the more deadly strains of domestic extremism. The office had by then investigated about 1,000 domestic terrorism cases and only a few hundred agents in the area were assigned to them. The Department of Homeland Security even sent agents to Portland who were normally assigned to investigate drug cartels at the border.
Mr. Barr too formed a task force Run by trusted US lawyers in Texas and New Jersey to persecute anti-government extremists. Terrorism prosecutors working on the investigation into the summer violence were not given advance notice of Mr Barr’s decision. They questioned the rationale for the task force because it appeared to duplicate its work and could cause confusion, according to two people familiar with their pushback.