U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson prepares to introduce Joe Biden during the Get Out and Vote event at Tougaloo College's Kroger Gymnasium Sunday, March 8, 2020. Credit: Eric J. Shelton/Mississippi Today, Report For America

A Pennsylvania man is facing federal charges for allegedly sending a death threat to U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, the chair of the House Jan. 6 Committee that is investigating efforts to overthrow the results of the November 2020 presidential election.

Thompson, who represents Mississippi’s 2nd congressional district, reported just before the last round of public hearings by the Jan. 6 Committee that his Washington, D.C., office had received a suspicious item in the mail.

Robert Maverick Vargo, who is 25 years old, was also charged with threatening President Joe Biden, according to Axios and other national media outlets. Vargo faces charges of threatening the President of the United States, interstate communications with a threat and influencing a federal official by threat.

The letter to Thompson contained a white powder, but it was determined not to be dangerous.

The letter, according to Axios, referenced Thompson’s leadership of the Jan. 6 Committee that recently subpoenaed former President Donald Trump over efforts to throw out millions of votes and overturn the results of the election. The Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol was part of that effort.

The letter to Thompson read, in part, according to Axios: “Im going to kill you! I will make you feel the rest of our pain & suffering. There is nowhere or nobody who can keep you from me. I am going to kill you & those you love. I promise you that I will keep my promise until the day of my death. … You & Joe Biden soon will face death for the wrongs you’ve done to US.”

Thompson has been vocal in his belief that the committee he chairs is important to preserving the right to vote for all American citizens.

“I want, as an African American, to be able to say to the world that I helped stabilize our government when insurrectionists tried to take over,” Thompson told CNN in the summer before the hearings began.

READ MORE: ‘An attempted coup’: Rep. Bennie Thompson tells the world what happened on Jan. 6, 2021

Thompson — the dean of the Mississippi congressional delegation and indeed someone who has worked to avoid the limelight — has built his long political career on protecting democracy.

As a young adult in the 1960s, he worked to register African Americans to vote and to ensure votes were counted. Now leading the Jan. 6 Commission, he is effectively doing similar work: ensuring that legally cast votes are counted and that the nation’s representative democracy is protected from any future efforts to overturn the results of an election.

Thompson was selected to chair the special Jan. 6 Committee because of his leadership of the House’s Homeland Security Committee.

READ MORE: Rep. Bennie Thompson’s Mississippi colleagues have no comment on his Jan. 6 hearings

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Bobby Harrison, Mississippi Today’s senior capitol reporter, covers politics, government and the Mississippi State Legislature. He also writes a weekly news analysis which is co-published in newspapers statewide. A native of Laurel, Bobby joined our team June 2018 after working for the North Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo since 1984. He is president of the Mississippi Capitol Press Corps Association and works with the Mississippi State University Stennis Institute to organize press luncheons. Bobby has a bachelor's in American Studies from the University of Southern Mississippi and has received multiple awards from the Mississippi Press Association, including the Bill Minor Best Investigative/In-depth Reporting and Best Commentary Column.