U.S. Attorney General Garland Vows to Go After All Jan. 6 Perpetrators ‘at Any Level’
(Bloomberg) -- The Justice Department “remains committed to holding all January 6th perpetrators, at any level, accountable under law,” Attorney General Merrick Garland vowed in a speech ahead of Thursday’s anniversary of the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol.
In remarks Wednesday to the Justice Department staff, Garland said that “those who assaulted officers or damaged the Capitol face greater charges. Those who conspired with others to obstruct the vote count also face greater charges.”
Garland didn’t mention former President Donald Trump or anyone else by name on Wednesday. But he said the department will pursue those responsible “whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy. We will follow the facts wherever they lead.”
Justice Department leaders are facing increasing pressure, especially from Democratic activists and lawmakers, to investigate and charge all those responsible for conspiring to stop Congress from certifying the election of President Joe Biden on Jan. 6 and for encouraging the insurrection that day. That includes possible action against Trump and his advisers.
Critics say the department must investigate -- and potentially prosecute -- Trump for trying to block Biden’s certification by pressuring then-Vice President Mike Pence to nullify the election results and for urging a Washington rally of his supporters on Jan. 6 to march to the Capitol and “fight like hell.”
The attorney general said charges of significant vote fraud in the 2020 election “have been repeatedly refuted by the law enforcement and intelligence agencies of both the last administration and this one, as well as by every court -- federal and state -- that has considered them.”
To date, the department has charged more than 725 individuals for storming the Capitol, resulting in the deaths of some police officers and rioters. More than 150 rioters have pleaded guilty to charges, from assaulting police to felony obstruction, according to the latest statistics. Garland said the investigation will continue “as long as it takes, and whatever it takes, for justice to be done.”
He also vowed to look at financial networks and transactions, saying, “We follow the physical evidence. We follow the digital evidence. We follow the money.”
So far, Garland said, the department has “issued over 5,000 subpoenas and search warrants, seized approximately 2,000 devices, pored through over 20,000 hours of video footage, and searched through an estimated 15 terabytes of data.” He said ordinary citizens have provided more than 300,000 tips.
Garland has kept a low profile and tried to keep the department insulated from outside pressures. But the attorney general is finding it impossible to avoid being drawn into the nation’s polarizing political debates from the left and the right.
The department has been using a federal grand jury to investigate the Jan. 6 attack and the events that led up to it, and it could be used to pursue charges against Trump and his allies, according to officials who asked to remain anonymous speaking about the sensitive matter. They said any decision on charges would be driven by the facts and evidence.
The department’s investigation and a separate probe in the House of Representatives are expected to force Garland to make politically fraught choices in the coming months. Charges against Trump and associates could range from criminal obstruction of Congress to conspiring to interfere in a federal election, officials said.
More broadly, Garland said the Justice Department is mobilizing against the increasing threats “permeating” life across the country, including those against election officials and workers, airline flight crews, police, school personnel and government officials.
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