Michigan lawmaker stifled by tears, describes personal threats at hearing on white supremacy

(CNN) -- Rep. Rashida Tlaib recalled threats made against her and other freshman House members during an emotional exchange Tuesday about the lack of a domestic terrorism statute.

The Michigan Democrat described one threat, which was sent to her office and others, targeting her because of her Muslim faith.

"How is that not enough to fall under domestic terrorism, if they're targeting solely based on my faith and others in saying that a 'good Muslim is a dead one,' obviously directed to me?" she said.

In April, a man from Florida called and threatened multiple Democratic lawmakers, including Tlaib, according to the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida, but it was unclear if this was the same incident she was describing at Tuesday's hearing.

Tlaib's colleague Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota Democrat, said in April that she had experienced an increase in death threats following a tweet by President Donald Trump.

"We get so many of them, and I keep asking, 'What happens?' 'What happens to these individuals?' " Tlaib said Tuesday. "I'm really sincere. I'm a mother. I want to go home to my two boys."

FBI Assistant director of the Counterterrorism Division Michael McGarrity, who was testifying at a House Oversight Committee hearing on the federal response to white supremacy, empathized with the threats Tlaib faced but stressed that there isn't a domestic terrorism statute to fully combat these threats and allow for the arrests of those making them.

He urged Tlaib to work in Congress and with the Justice Department to propose domestic terrorism legislation.

"I'm in charge of domestic terrorism and international terrorism. I don't differentiate either when the threat comes in, nor does the FBI. We work them both the same way," McGarrity said.

He also stressed that the FBI is constantly working to combat domestic terrorism threats, making more arrests on the domestic terrorism side than international in the past year.

Administration response to domestic terrorism

Also at the hearing, Elizabeth Neumann of the Department of Homeland Security acknowledged that the federal government is not doing enough on domestic terror prevention but said the Trump administration is doing more to institutionalize efforts in this area than had been previously done.

"We know we're not doing enough. Part of the reason we haven't done enough is because things have not -- it's bureaucratic, it's boring -- things have not been institutionalized," said Neumann, the department's assistant secretary for threat prevention and security policy.

She said the department is working to figure out how to do that, "so that the budget process can work and we can get proper funding for prevention efforts moving forward."

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