Justice Department, FBI debating whether to charge all those involved in Capitol riots: WaPo
Justice Department and FBI officials are reportedly discussing whether everyone who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 should be charged, with some arguing charges should not be filed for those who did not engage in violent behavior.
The Washington Post reported on the internal deliberations Saturday, citing multiple people familiar with the discussions. The Post added that discussions on such a decision are in the early stages, with no formal stance taken on the matter.
The sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to freely discuss legal deliberations, reportedly told the Post that some federal officials pointed out logistical concerns about the cases swamping the local courthouse. Authorities estimate that roughly 800 people stormed the Capitol during the deadly pro-Trump riot.
Individuals have been arrested across multiple states in connection with the attack, but each case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.
As of Saturday, the Justice Department has already charged more than 135 individuals with committing crimes on or around the grounds of the Capitol, with more charges expected in the coming weeks and months.
Some federal officials have also internally proposed that those individuals who were known to have committed unlawful entry but were not engaged in violent behavior should not be charged, according to the newspaper.
However, other officials have pushed back against this proposal, asserting the importance of using the charges to send a message that similar actions in the future will not be tolerated.
The sources told the Post that they are sensitive to the fact that the credibility of the Justice Department and FBI could be called into question with such a decision.
Justice Department spokesman Marc Raimondi said in an email to the Post, “There is absolute resolve from the Department of Justice to hold all who intentionally engaged in criminal acts at the Capitol accountable.”
“We have consistently made clear that we will follow the facts and evidence and charge individuals accordingly,” Raimondi added. “We remain confident that the U.S. District Court for Washington, DC can appropriately handle the docket related to any resulting charges.”
The Hill has reached out to the Justice Department and FBI for additional comment.
Supporters of former President Trump stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 after he encouraged a crowd on the National Mall to march to the Capitol and demand that Congress halt the certification of President Biden’s Electoral College victory.
At the time, Congress was in the midst of debating an objection to the election results in the state of Arizona.
Trump in the past has repeated false claims that the election was “stolen” from him and that the election was “rigged.”
Five people died amid the chaos, including a Capitol Police officer who suffered injuries while responding to the rioting and a woman who was shot by a plainclothes officer.