The Justice Department has reached a milestone in its prosecution of the US Capitol attack, confirming it has arrested at least 1,000 people in connection with the January 6, 2021 Capitol attack, nearly half of whom are still with the prospect on court cases or plea deals are agreements.
A new wave of cases, many involving charges of higher-level police assault, continues to expand prosecutions that are already the largest in American history.
Twenty-six months after the criminal investigation began, the latest cases continue to reveal new details and evidence of alleged criminal activity amid the rioting mob.
Just over half of the men and women charged with federal crimes in the Jan. 6 attack have pleaded guilty to their cases. But even as cases close, new defendants and charges continue to emerge, which could extend the overall prosecution well into 2024, if not beyond.
In its latest update, the Justice Department said the FBI is trying to identify at least 260 other people wanted in the attack.
In many of its court filings, including a ruling memo released Monday, the Justice Department characterized the Jan. 6 investigation as comprehensive and unprecedented, calling it “a violent attack that forced a disruption in certification of the Electoral College’s 2020 vote count threatened after the peaceful transfer of power.” The 2020 presidential election injured more than 100 police officers and resulted in more than $2.8 million in casualties.”
New details revealed by new cases and trials
The Justice Department on Monday announced indictments against two North Carolina men accused of ransacking desks in the US Senate chamber. The indictment document alleges that a defendant photographed a printed copy of a speech by Utah Republican Senator Mitt Romney criticizing former President Donald Trump. The speech was delivered in February 2020, before Romney’s guilty vote against Trump in the former president’s first impeachment trial.
According to Justice Department court filings, Romney had written the name “Mike” on the speech and signed his name. The name “Mike” referred to either fellow Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee or South Dakota Republican Sen. Mike Rounds and was shared in February 2020, according to a Romney spokesman.
In the February trial of Capitol Defendant Noah Bacon, a US Capitol Police sergeant revealed that only 88 senators were represented in the Senate chamber when the mob attacked the Capitol and a lockdown was ordered. The sergeant, who testified as a prosecution witness, said two officers were dispatched outside to “scrutinize” an escape route as they searched for a way to safely get out of the danger.
The latest spate of newly indicted defendants includes a former New Jersey state cop, the sister of a Chicago cop and a Florida man accused of wearing a panda costume amid the mob.
The Justice Department has had a near-pristine record in the Capitol riot trials over the first two years of law enforcement. Only one defendant, a New Mexico man who filed a bank trial — without a jury and with a judge’s verdict — was fully acquitted. The defendant, Matthew Martin, argued he was unaware that he was actually in a restricted space on January 6.
Every jury hearing a case of US Capitol rioting has returned at least a partial conviction. Recent rounds of guilty verdicts have included several for seditious conspiracy against members of the far-right group Oath Keepers. The jury also convicted so-called QAnon shaman Jacob Chansley of Arizona, who stood on the Senate podium in horns and fur. Juries have also convicted former New York City police officer Thomas Webster and Arkansas resident Richard Barnett, the man who sat with his feet up on a desk in the office of then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.