Justice Department Officials Vow More Charges Over Riot
(Bloomberg) -- Federal law enforcement officials defended the pace of their investigation into the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, saying they’ve opened more than 400 case files and charged more than 200 individuals so far.
Investigators are still seeking information on suspects who beat Capitol Police officers during the riot, as well as the person or group behind the placement of pipe bombs near the offices of the Republican National Committee and Democratic National Committee, officials said Tuesday. But they said they expect the pace of identifications of suspects and arrests to continue climbing.
“If a crime was committed we’re going to track that person down and they will be charged,” Michael Sherwin, acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, told reporters on a briefing call.
Sherwin said he sees no staffing limitations that would interfere with efforts by a growing team of investigators across the U.S. to bring to justice people involved in the attack on the Capitol. But Sherwin and an FBI official reiterated the challenge of processing more than 200,000 social media tips.
“This case is unique in its magnitude and the number of suspects,” Steven D’Antuono, assistant director in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Washington Field Office, told reporters on the same call.
Sherwin said investigators have obtained more than 500 grand jury subpoenas and search warrants in the almost three weeks since the rioters stormed the Capitol, temporarily delaying the certification of President Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory.
Sherwin said prosecutors have so far charged more than 150 rioters in federal court in Washington and more than 50 in superior court. Almost all the federal cases involve felonies, he said.
“These are significant charges that have significant teeth,” Sherwin said. He added that the U.S. is “closely looking at evidence related to sedition charges,” and that those efforts “will bear fruit very soon.”
A charge of seditious conspiracy would mark a major escalation in the law enforcement response to the riot, as investigators probe whether far-right groups coordinated the breach of the Capitol. The charges carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.
The Jan. 6 riot resulted in the deaths of five people, including one U.S. Capitol Police officer who was injured in the attack and a rioter who was shot. Another officer later died by suicide.
Lawmakers have started investigating the security protocols that were in place and how the rioters were able to storm the grounds and break into the Capitol.
U.S. Capitol police were denied pre-authorization for National Guard support two days before the violent insurrection, according to written testimony submitted Tuesday for a House briefing on security failures.
The 1,200-person Capitol Police force was overwhelmed by a mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters that outnumbered law enforcement officials who were diverted to other emergencies, under-prepared and not sufficiently armed to repel the attack, Capitol security leaders said in testimony for a closed briefing before the Appropriations Committee.
In the most significant repercussion from the Capitol invasion, the U.S. Senate will next month take up the impeachment trial of Trump. The former president was impeached by the House for inciting the insurrection at the Capitol. The single article of impeachment also cites Trump’s other efforts to overturn the certified election results, including a phone call pressuring Georgia’s secretary of state to find just enough votes for him to overturn that state’s election.
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