Indiana Republican says US attorney ‘declined’ to prosecute threat against his daughters and wife

Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., is questioning why a federal prosecutor declined to bring charges against a man who threatened his family while the Justice Department has prosecuted similar threats against Democrats – but the DOJ is denying a double standard.Aaron Thompson, 33, of Fort Wayne, pleaded guilty in October to felony and misdemeanor charges after he left menacing voicemails with Banks’ office. Allen County prosecutors pursued the case and Thompson was sentenced to two years probation, but a letter Banks sent to Attorney General Merrick Garland demanded to know why the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Indiana did not file federal charges.”I’m thankful for Allen County Prosecutor Mike McAlexander and Deputy Prosecutor Adam Mildred for taking these threats seriously and for enforcing the law impartially,” Banks told Fox News Digital. “I want an answer from AG Garland explaining why he ignored threats against my family but prosecuted similar threats against Democrats. It appears to be just another example of the Biden administration’s political weaponization of our justice system.”Reached for comment, a Justice Department spokesperson pointed to over a dozen prosecutions of individuals who threatened Republican members of Congress, including threats to Reps. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., Marjorie Taylor-Greene, R-Ga., and Clay Higgins, R-La.The DOJ “investigates threats to public officials regardless of their party affiliation, and we have prosecuted multiple cases of threats made to both Republican and Democratic” congressional lawmakers, the DOJ spokesperson said, adding that Garland “has told Congress that he views threats to public officials as threats to our democracy and the department will continue to treat them as such.” In interviews with U.S. Capitol Police, Thompson admitted to making at least eight calls to Banks’ D.C. office. He said he was intoxicated at the time and that he disagreed with the Republican lawmaker’s political positions.INDIANA MAN CHARGED WITH FELONY AFTER THREATENING TO KILL GOP REP. JIM BANKS, HIS DAUGHTERSIn one such call, Thompson said he owns a gun and gave Banks a choice between his or his daughter’s lives. Banks has three young daughters.”Here’s the choice. Your daughters grow up without their dad, or you grow old without your daughters,” Thompson said, according to an affidavit for probable cause. “… [B]oom, boom you pick…”READ: REP JIM BANKS LETTER TO ATTORNEY GENERAL MERRICK GARLAND. APP USERS: CLICK HERE In the letter, which was sent in December but not publicized until this week, Banks said FBI agents visited Thompson’s home in Fort Wayne to investigate the threats. “Thompson, who previously posted on social media encouraging his followers to ‘Vote Democrat,’ admitted he had threatened me and my family with violence because he disagreed with my political beliefs,” Banks wrote. TEXAS MAN CONVICTED OF THREATENING TO KILL REP MAXINE WATERS GETS NEARLY 3 YEARS IN PRISON”When Capitol Police referred the criminal case against Aaron Thompson to the U.S. Attorney for Northern District of Indiana, they declined to prosecute despite clear evidence that Thompson violated federal law.” Court records show Thompson pleaded guilty to a state felony charge of intimidation and a misdemeanor charge of harassment. Intimidation is a Level 6 felony in Indiana, while harassment is a Class B misdemeanor. Banks, who is running for an open Senate seat in Indiana, quoted public statements Garland has made reaffirming DOJ’s commitment to prosecuting violent threats made against public servants and questioned why federal charges weren’t brought against Thompson when similar threats made against Democratic Reps. Eric Swalwell of California and Bennie Thompson of Mississippi were prosecuted. Most recently, a Texas man received a nearly three-year jail sentence after his criminal conviction for leaving threatening and racist voicemails for California Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters. JOHNSON FLOATS DEFUNDING SPECIAL COUNSEL’S OFFICE AMID JACK SMITH’S TRUMP PROBELast week, Garland penned an op-ed in the Washington Post that decried political violence and condemned any suggestion that his department has politicized its work.”Disagreements about politics are good for our democracy. They are normal,” Garland wrote. “But using conspiracy theories, falsehoods, violence and threats of violence to affect political outcomes is not normal. The short-term political benefits of those tactics will never make up for the long-term cost to our country.” Mike Ferrara, a partner at New York firm Kaplan Hecker & FInk LLP and former assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York, told Fox News Digital it can sometimes be difficult for prosecutors to bring charges for menacing statements. “The federal threat statutes can be tricky to charge because they require prosecutors to prove very specific things about what the perpetrator intended. It’s not enough to prove that someone hearing the words would’ve perceived them as a threat. Instead, federal prosecutors have to prove, for example, that the perpetrator made the threat to impede the performance of the official’s duties, or intended his words as a threat, or knew that the person to whom the words were directed would take them as a threat. These proof problems are especially complicated in a case like this one where the perpetrator’s defense is that he made the statements because he was drunk,” Ferrara said. “States, of course, have an entirely different set of statues they can choose from to prosecute threats, which might not have those proof issues and might be a better fit for the perpetrator’s conduct. I’m not familiar with Indiana’s statutes, but if the state brought a criminal prosecution against the perpetrator using state laws, then it would be pretty unremarkable – and I think a good exercise of prosecutorial discretion – for the federal government to defer to the state prosecutors.”Fox News Digital’s Joe Schoffstall contributed to this report.
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