More than 800 people across the United States have been indicted in the January 6 riots at the US Capitol, which left officials bloody and sent lawmakers into hiding, and federal officials making new arrests practically every week. continue.
Charges against members of the angry pro-Trump crowd have ranged from low-level misdemeanors for those who only enter the Capitol and charges of seditious conspiracy against far-right extremists.
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It is the largest prosecution in Justice Department history, whose leader, Attorney General Merrick Garland, has vowed to hold “all January 6 offenders at any level” accountable.
As the US House committee investigating the attack prepares to hold a series of public hearings to elaborate on its findings, here’s a look at where the criminal cases stand:
Who has been charged?
Authorities have arrested people in almost all 50 states in connection with the riots. These include the son of a former police officer and US military veteran, a five-time Olympic swimming medalist, and a New York City judge.
Hundreds of people who went inside, but did not participate in any destruction or violence, are facing only misdemeanor offenses such as picketing at the Capitol and disorderly conduct that calls for up to six months behind bars.
More than 250 people have been charged with assault or obstructing law enforcement who were trying to protect the Capitol, including 85 accused of using a deadly or dangerous weapon or causing grievous bodily injury to an officer. involved in the charges. Others have been charged with assaulting members of the media – an Associated Press photographer – or of destroying media equipment.
The most serious cases have been brought against members of two far-right extremist groups, the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys.
Leaders of both groups have been arrested and await trial later this year for seditious conspiracy, alleging conspiracy to forcibly oppose a legitimate transfer of presidential power. A rarely used Civil War-era charge carries up to 20 years in prison.
Who has been convicted?
More than 300 people have pleaded guilty to a range of crimes, including conspiracy and assault. Three of them are sworn guards who have confessed to plotting treason, are cooperating with investigators and can testify against their fellow extremists at trial.
There have been seven lawsuits so far in federal court in the District of Columbia. The first five juries found the riot defendants guilty of all charges.
The culprits include Thomas Webster, a 20-year veteran of the New York Police Department who attacked an officer during a riot. Webster claimed he was defending himself when he tackled the officer and grabbed his gas mask.
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Jurors also rejected the defense of an Ohio man who claimed he was merely “following the president’s orders” from former President Donald Trump when he stormed the Capitol. Dustin Byron Thompson was convicted of preventing Congress from certifying electoral votes and other charges.
A judge decided two other cases without a jury, acquitting one of the defendants and partially acquitting the other.
U.S. District Court Judge Trevor McFadden, who was appointed by Trump, convicted Otero County, New Mexico, Commissioner Kauy Griffin of illegally entering the restricted Capitol grounds, but acquitted him of engaging in disorderly conduct. Gave.
In the other misdemeanor case, McFadden found Matthew Martin of New Mexico not guilty of charges that he entered the Capitol illegally and engaged in disorderly conduct, saying it was reasonable for Martin to believe that more Police officers in number had allowed him and others to enter through the rotunda. doors.
What about punishment?
So far, about 200 people have been sentenced. The sentences have ranged from probation to more than five years behind bars. About 100 people who were charged with lower-level crimes avoided prison, although some of them received time under house arrest.
The longest sentence—more than five years—was given to Robert Palmer of Largo, Florida, who threw a wooden plank and sprayed fire extinguishers at officers before throwing a fire extinguisher.
Others who received longer sentences include Jacob Chansley, the spear-carrying rioter whose horned fur hat, bare chest, and face paint made him one of the more recognizable figures in the attack. Chansley, who called himself a “Qian shaman”, spent nearly 3 1/2 years behind bars after entering the Senate chamber and writing a note to Vice President Mike Pence, which said: “It’s only a matter of time.” Yes, justice is coming.”
What will happen next?
The two most high-profile tests — involving the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys — are expected this summer and fall.
Henry “Enrique” Tario, once the Proud Boys’ top boss, and four others linked to the group were charged Monday with seditious conspiracy, having previously been facing other conspiracies. They are scheduled for testing starting August 9.
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Tario, who has since stepped down from his position as the group’s chairman, was arrested in a separate case two days before the riots and was not at the Capitol on January 6. But he is accused of helping trigger the violent attack.
The trial for the Oath Keepers leader, Stewart Rhodes, and four other members and associates of the group is set to begin on September 26. Prosecutors say Oath Keepers conspired for weeks to try to reverse the election results and buy weapons to prepare for the siege. and making war plans.
Officials are still searching for several suspects, including the man who planted two pipe bombs outside the offices of the Republican and Democratic national committees the night before the scuffle.