On the campaign trail in 2016, Donald Trump took an unusual stance, defending his namesake “university” against allegations of fraud.

Rather than deferring to his lawyers or reserving his public rhetoric for the former Trump University students at the center of the class-action lawsuit, Trump attacked the federal judge presiding over the case.

“I have a judge who despises Donald Trump, a despiser. He is a hater “Trump was referring to Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who was appointed to the federal trial court in San Diego in 2012. A month later, as Trump advocated for a border wall, he questioned whether the Indiana-born judge could rule impartially in the Trump University case because of his Mexican heritage.

The comments set the tone for what legal experts perceived as Trump’s politicization of the federal judiciary. According to government data reviewed by Insider, Trump would go on to win the election, and his four-year presidency would coincide with a remarkable increase in threats to federal judges and other officials under the protection of the US Marshals Service.

According to a US Marshals Service report, the total number of reported threats nearly doubled between fiscal years 2016 and 2018, rising from 2,357 to 4,542. According to the annual report for fiscal year 2021 — the most recent year for which data are available — the total has remained above 4,000 every year since.

A month later, a Texas woman was arrested on suspicion of leaving threatening messages on the voicemail of Judge Aileen Cannon, the Trump appointee presiding over the former president’s legal challenges to the FBI’s seizure of thousands of records from Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Palm Beach, Florida resort residence. According to court filings, the woman threatened to have Cannon assassinated in front of her family for “helping” the former president in those voicemails.

That case came just months after the June arrest of a man who arrived outside Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s home armed with a gun, a knife, and zip ties. Prosecutors said in court papers charging the man with attempting to kill Kavanaugh that the man told them he was upset because the Supreme Court was about to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that established a constitutional right to abortion.

In response to the leaked draft opinion, Attorney General Merrick Garland ordered around-the-clock protection for Supreme Court justices’ weeks before the man’s arrest. However, as threats to federal judges in South Florida demonstrated, the trend is spreading down through the lower courts.

A grand jury indicted a Pennsylvania man last week on charges that he sent a letter containing what appeared to be white powder to Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson, chair of the House January 6 committee. A message in the letter alluded to anthrax and included threats to kill Thompson, his family, President Joe Biden, and US District Court Judge Robert D. Mariani of the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

According to people familiar with the incidents and local officials, at least three packages containing suspicious white powder have arrived at the federal courthouse in Washington, DC this year. Hazmat teams responded each time and determined that the packages, which resembled anthrax-laced threats sent after the 9/11 attacks, did not contain a hazardous substance.

According to people familiar with the incident, the latest of such packages arrived in August and entered the chambers of Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly — a rare breach that alarmed judges and courthouse staff. According to a spokesperson for the Washington, DC Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department, the substance in the package was baby powder.

A month earlier, on July 21, shortly after 11:15 p.m., police were called to the home of Judge Emmet Sullivan, who was scheduled to preside over a plea hearing in a high-profile prosecution stemming from the January 6 attack on the Capitol. According to people familiar with the incident and a police report, an unknown caller pretended to be Sullivan and told police that someone had arrived at the judge’s home with a weapon in a “swatting” call.

According to the police report, officers arrived to find Sullivan “safe and secure.” Bloomberg was the first to report on the “swatting” incident.