Justice Dept arrests hit 1,000 in connection with Jan. 6, and new accusations surface in latest prosecutions
The Justice Department has reached a milestone in its prosecution of the U.S. Capitol attack, confirming it has arrested at least 1,000 people in connection with the Jan. 6, 2021 assault on the Capitol, nearly half of whom still face the prospect of trials or plea agreements.
A new wave of cases, many of which involve higher-level charges of assaults against police, continues to expand a prosecution that is already the largest in American history.
Twenty-six months into the criminal investigation, the newest cases continue to reveal new details and evidence about alleged criminal activity amid the riotous mob.
Slightly more than half of the men and women charged with federal crimes in the Jan. 6 attack have entered guilty pleas in their cases. But even as cases close, new defendants and charges continue to surface, which could stretch the overall prosecution well into 2024, if not beyond.
In its latest update, the Justice Department said the FBI is seeking to identify at least 260 more people wanted in the attack.
In many of its court filings, including a sentencing memo issued Monday, the Justice Department characterizes the Jan. 6 investigation as sweeping and unprecedented, calling it “a violent attack that forced an interruption of the certification of the 2020 Electoral College vote count, threatened the peaceful transfer of power after the 2020 Presidential election, injured more than one hundred police officers, and resulted in more than 2.8 million dollars in losses.”
New details revealed by new cases and trials
The Justice Department announced charges Monday against a pair of North Carolina men, who are accused of rifling through desks in the U.S. Senate Chamber. The charging document alleges one defendant photographed a printed copy of a speech by Sen. Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, criticizing former President Donald Trump. The speech was delivered in February 2020, ahead of Romney’s guilty vote against Trump in the former president’s first impeachment trial.
According to the Justice Department’s court filings, Romney had written the name “Mike” atop the speech and signed his name. The name “Mike” was a reference to either his colleague Sen. Mike Lee, Republican of Utah, or Sen. Mike Rounds, Republican of South Dakota, and shared in February 2020, according to a Romney spokesperson.
In the February trial of Capitol riot defendant Noah Bacon, a U.S. Capitol Police sergeant revealed that only 88 senators were accounted for in the Senate Chamber when the mob attacked the Capitol and a lockdown was ordered. The sergeant, who was testifying as a prosecution’s witness, said two officers were sent outside to do “reconnaissance” for an escape route, as they sought a way to evacuate safely from the danger.
The latest wave of newly charged defendants include a former New Jersey state trooper, the sister of a Chicago police officer and a Florida man accused of wearing a panda costume while amid the mob.
The Justice Department has secured a nearly unblemished record in Capitol riot trials over the first two years of prosecutions. Only one defendant, a New Mexico man who requested a bench trial — with no jury and a verdict rendered by a judge — was fully acquitted. The defendant, Matthew Martin, argued he was unaware he was actually in a restricted space on Jan. 6.
Every jury to hear a U.S. Capitol riot case has returned at least a partial conviction. The latest rounds of guilty verdicts have included several for seditious conspiracy, against members of the far-right Oath Keepers group. Jurors also convicted the so-called QAnon Shaman, Jacob Chansley of Arizona, who stood in horns and fur on the Senate dais. Juries have also convicted former New York Police officer Thomas Webster and Richard Barnett of Arkansas, the man who sat with his feet on a desk in the office of then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.