Tanya Chutkan, the judge overseeing Trump’s federal election interference case, appears to be victim of ‘swatting’

WASHINGTON — Police and fire trucks showed up Sunday night at the house of Tanya Chutkan, the federal judge overseeing former President Donald Trump’s election interference case after she appeared to be the target of an attempted “swatting” attack.

Police confirmed to NBC News that they responded to false reports of a shooting at a house that a witness identified as Chutkan’s home. A law enforcement official also confirmed that it was Chutkan’s home and that she was home when police arrived at her residence.

A police report obtained by NBC News said that officers with the Metropolitan Police Department responded to a call just after 10 p.m. ET that referenced a shooting that occurred at the location. Once authorities arrived at the scene, an unnamed subject said she “was not injured and that there was no one in her home.”

Police “determined no shooting took place,” a police spokesperson told NBC News. It’s unclear from where or from whom the call to emergency services originated.

Chutkan is the federal judge overseeing the federal election interference case brought by Special Counsel Jack Smith against Trump. She appeared to be the victim of “swatting,” which happens when someone makes a false report of a crime in progress to draw police to a certain location.

Tanya Chutkan in Washington, D.C.
Tanya Chutkan in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 19, 2016. Jay Mallin / Zuma Press file

A spokesperson for the U.S. District Court did not respond to a request for comment Monday.

This comes after a recent uptick in threats against judges nationwide, including those serving on Colorado’s Supreme Court after they ruled that Trump is ineligible to appear on the state’s primary ballot this year, a decision the Supreme Court has decided to take up. The FBI said it was investigating the threats and working to address them.

Chutkan herself has also faced threats — a Texas woman, Abigail Jo Shry, 43, was arrested and charged last August with transmitting a threat to injure a person via interstate commerce. The affidavit alleged that the woman called Chutkan on Aug. 5 and left a “threatening voicemail message” for her.

“Hey you stupid slave,” Shry said before she referred to Chutkan using the N-word, the affidavit alleged. “You are in our sights, we want to kill you. … If Trump doesn’t get elected in 2024, we are coming to kill you, so tread lightly, b—-.”

“You will be targeted personally, publicly, your family, all of it,” Shry is alleged to have said.

Trump has also explicitly targeted Chutkan on social media, posting disparaging messages about her on his Truth Social account, as well as about prosecutors working in Smith’s office and potential witnesses in the case. Chutkan imposed a gag order against Trump prohibiting him from targeting Smith, other prosecutors and potential witnesses. A federal appeals court in D.C. narrowed in early December, allowing him to target any high-profile witness who makes disparaging comments about him as well as Smith himself.

Trump’s trial in the case is set to begin in March, but it could be delayed depending on how the Supreme Court will rule on Trump’s presidential immunity claim. Trump pleaded not guilty to the charges at a court appearance in early August.

In recent years, judges have faced a myriad of threats. In 2022, Biden signed into law the annual defense authorization bill, which contained the Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act, named after the son of U.S. District Judge Esther Salas. He was killed in 2020 when a man posing as a delivery driver fatally shot Daniel at the door of their New Jersey home.

The law bans the selling, trading, transferring or purchasing of judges’ personal information online. It allows federal judges to request that their information be removed from the Internet if it’s publicly available and authorizes the U.S. Marshals Service to hire additional analysts, security specialists and other personnel to help prevent threats to federal judges.

Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was targeted in June 2022 when an armed man was arrested near Kavanaugh’s home after he called 911 on himself. The man was found to have a handgun, a knife, pepper spray and burglary tools.

The suspect was alleged to have told investigators that he targeted Kavanaugh because he was angry about the possibility that the Supreme Court would overturn Roe v. Wade and about the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. He said he thought Kavanaugh would loosen gun laws.

About a week later, Congress passed a bill to provide security to family members of Supreme Court justices, which Biden signed into law.