A Democratic congressman filed a lawsuit against former president Donald Trump, his son Donald Jr, his lawyer Rudy Giuliani and a Republican lawmaker for allegedly inciting the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.
Trump, 74, and the other defendants waged a “campaign of lies and incendiary rhetoric” which led to the assault on Congress, Representative Eric Swalwell of California charged in the civil suit lodged in a US District Court in Washington.
Another Democratic congressman, Representative Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, filed a similar suit against Trump last month.
Both cite a little used law, the Ku Klux Klan Act, to make the case against the former president.
The 1871 Act was designed to prevent the white supremacist KKK from intimidating elected officials.
Trump, Donald Jr, Giuliani and Rep. Mo Brooks, a congressman from Alabama, all spoke at a rally which preceded the January 6 attack on Congress by Trump supporters seeking to block the certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s election victory.
“Unable to accept defeat, Donald Trump waged an all out war on a peaceful transition of power,” Swalwell said in a statement announcing the lawsuit.
“He lied to his followers again and again claiming the election was stolen,” the congressman said, “and finally called upon his supporters to descend on Washington DC to ‘stop the steal.'”
3 March 2021: FBI Director says Capitol riots were ‘dommestic terrorism’
“The defendants assembled, inflamed and incited the mob, and as such are wholly responsible for the injury and destruction that followed,” Swalwell said.
The suit demanded unspecified monetary and punitive damages to be determined at a jury trial.
Swalwell was one of the impeachment managers for Trump’s trial in the Senate on the charge of inciting insurrection.
Trump was impeached by the Democratic-majority House of Representatives for his role in inciting the attack on the Capitol but acquitted by the Senate.
Thompson and the NAACP, a civil rights organization, filed suit against Trump, Giuliani and two right-wing groups, the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, last month.
Jason Miller, a Trump spokesman, responded to the latest lawsuit in a statement to The Washington Post. “Eric Swalwell is a low-life with no credibility,” Miller said.
Trump State Dept appointee arrested
More than 300 people have been arrested so far for their role in the storming of the Capitol, which left at least five people dead.
Among the latest arrests was Federico Guillermo Klein, 42, a Trump appointee to a low-level State Department job.
Klein, who resigned from the State Department on January 19, a day before Trump left office, was arrested by the FBI on Thursday after a review of video of the Capitol attack.
In a criminal complaint obtained by The New York Times, an FBI special agent said Klein, wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat, is seen assaulting police officers with a riot shield.
According to the complaint, Klein worked at the State Department since 2017 on Brazilian and other Latin American affairs and had a Top Secret clearance.
He is believed to be the first member of the former Trump administration to directly charged in connection with the ransacking of the Capitol.
Klein faces multiple charges including assaulting police officers, obstructing an official proceeding and disorderly conduct.
Thank you for visiting My Local Pages. We hope you enjoyed seeing this news article about national news called “Donald Trump facing another lawsuit over US Capitol attack”. This story was shared by MyLocalPages as part of our national news services.
A former State Department aide in president Donald Trump’s administration has been charged with participating in the deadly siege at the Capitol and assaulting officers who were trying to guard the building, court papers show.
It’s the first known case to be brought against a Trump appointee in the January 6 insurrection, which led to Trump’s historic second impeachment.
Federico Klein, who also worked for Trump’s 2016 campaign, was seen wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat amid the throng of people in a tunnel trying to force their way into the Capitol on January 6, the papers say. Klein pushed his way toward the doors, where, authorities say, “he physically and verbally engaged” with officers trying to keep the mob back.
Klein was seen on camera violently shoving a riot shield into an officer and inciting the crowd as it tried to storm past the police line, shouting, “We need fresh people, we need fresh people,” according to the charging documents.
As the mob struggled with police in the tunnel, Klein pushed the riot shield, which had been stolen from an officer, in between the Capitol doors, preventing police from closing them, authorities say. Eventually, an officer used chemical spray, forcing Klein to move somewhere else, officials say.
Klein was arrested on Thursday, local time, in Virginia and faces charges including obstructing Congress and assaulting officers using a dangerous weapon.
He was in custody on Friday and couldn’t be reached for comment. It was not immediately clear whether he had an attorney who could comment on his behalf. A Trump spokesman said he had no comment.
At least five people, including a Capitol Police officer, died as a result of the violence. More than 300 people have been charged with federal crimes.
Thank you for visiting My Local Pages and reading this story about Queensland news called “State Department aide appointed by Trump stormed the Capitol, FBI says”. This news update was presented by My Local Pages Australia as part of our news aggregator services.
A member of the National Guard walks a security perimeter surrounding the US Capitol building on Capitol Hill on March 4, 2021, in Washington, DC. (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
OAN Newsroom UPDATED 7:40 PM PT – Thursday, March 4, 2021
Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.) is among several members of Congress who are demanding answers on increased security measures at the Capitol. What was supposed to be a temporary stay of National Guard troops and other reinforcements after January 6 seems to be more permanent.
Washington DC has been under military occupation the entire time Biden has been in office
Republicans have called for the razor wire fencing and troop presence to come down if no credible and imminent threat of violence exists. Waltz said he has repeatedly requested the intelligence briefings that continually get cited, but are never shown.
“All I get back is, ‘well, there is online chatter,’” Waltz stated. “But there is no specific threat — that I am aware of that I have seen…or any other member of Congress that I’ve talked to has seen — that requires more soldiers than we have in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.”
Congressman Waltz said the troops are needed back in their states to help with COVID vaccine distribution and to be with their families. However, Democrat leadership said National Guard troops should stay as long as necessary while a review of Capitol security wraps up.
At least one Democrat lawmaker and former CIA analyst Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.) joined GOP calls for a congressional briefing on the matter.
No one likes seeing the fortress-like security around the Capitol. And no one wants to again have a security problem in and around this symbolic place.
“If there is a threat that is so dire, again it requires a brigade of troops to defend our Capitol,” Waltz noted. “Then not only should lawmakers know about it, the American people should know about it.”
If the Pentagon does grant a 60-day extension for the National Guard past March 12, the expense will fall on taxpayers. Additionally, the Defense Department’s estimated cost of $500 million to keep National Guard troops at the Capitol through mid-March would likely surge into the billions.
MORE NEWS: Dozens Of Attorneys General And GOP Lawmakers Oppose H.R.1
Thank you for dropping by My Local Pages and checking this story about USA Business and Political news named “National Guard presence on Capitol Hill sparks bipartisan calls for answers”. This news article was posted by MyLocalPages as part of our USA news services.
“We have got to have constant intelligence on domestic terrorists, have to track their possible efforts to again repeat what happened on January sixth and I think that’s what you’re seeing now, is an abundance of caution to make sure that we are properly prepared to react, if in fact any group attempts any kind of armed attack again on the United States Capitol,” he said.
Thank you for stopping to visit My Local Pages. We Hope you enjoyed checking out this article involving current world news titled “US Capitol police warn of possible militia plot to breach Congress”. This post was presented by My Local Pages Australia as part of our local news services.
Police say they have intelligence showing a “possible plot” by a militia group to breach the US Capitol on Thursday.
A US Capitol Police statement did not name the organisation but called it “an identified militia group”.
It follows an advisory sent to members of Congress by the acting House sergeant-at-arms earlier this week, saying Capitol Police had “no indication that groups will travel to Washington DC to protest or commit acts of violence”.
“The United States Capitol Police Department is aware of and prepared for any potential threats towards members of Congress or towards the Capitol complex,” the agency said in a statement.
“We have obtained intelligence that shows a possible plot to breach the Capitol by an identified militia group on Thursday March 4.”
The statement said the agency was “taking the intelligence seriously” but provided no other specific details on the threat.
It comes at the same time the acting police chief is testifying before a House subcommittee.
More from Donald Trump Jr
The threat comes nearly two months after thousands of supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol in a violent insurrection as Congress was voting to certify Joe Biden’s electoral win.
So far, around 300 people have been charged with federal crimes for their roles in the riot and five people, including Brian Sicknick a Capitol Police officer, died.
The threat appears to be connected to a far-right conspiracy theory, mainly promoted by supporters of QAnon, that Trump will rise again to power on 4 March, which was the original presidential inauguration day, until 1933 when it was moved to 20 January.
Capitol Police say it had stepped up security around the complex since January’s insurrection, adding physical security measures such as fencing topped with razor wire and members of the National Guard, who remain at the complex.
Thank you for spending your time with us on My Local Pages. We hope you enjoyed checking this post regarding current USA news named “US police uncover ‘possible plot’ by militia group to breach Capitol on Thursday | US News”. This post was presented by My Local Pages as part of our USA news services.
“None of the intelligence we received predicted what actually occurred,” Sund said, referring to scenes in which Trump supporters assaulted police, smashed windows and charged through the Capitol chanting “Hang Mike Pence.”
“We properly planned for a mass demonstration with possible violence,” Sund said. “What we got was a military-style coordinated assault on my officers and a violent takeover of the Capitol Building.”
The former sergeants-at-arms of the House of Representatives and Senate, Paul Irving and Michael Stenger, also testified on Tuesday, saying they did not see the FBI warning.
All three resigned in the wake of the violence, which shook the world, threatened a peaceful transition of power and endangered the lives of lawmakers and Pence, prompting former president Trump’s second impeachment trial.
The Capitol building, which hosts the 535 members of Congress, has long been open to visitors and guests in a way that the White House has not been in decades. Passersby could walk almost to the building’s steps and prior to the COVID-19 pandemic it was still open to tourists, who had to enter through a special visitors’ entrance.
Sund said he had requested National Guard troops be deployed at the Capitol in a conversation with Irving and Stenger two days before the riot, but that Irving had expressed concern about “optics” of using the troops.
Irving, however, said he did not remember the discussion as a request, and flatly denied he had been concerned about appearances.
“We did discuss whether the intelligence warranted having troops at the Capitol. The collective judgment at that time was no – the intelligence did not warrant that,” Irving told the committees.
Sund and Irving also gave conflicting accounts of their communication on the chaotic day of the attack. Sund said he had called Irving at 1.09pm to ask for National Guard troops as members of the mob were fighting with Capitol Police at the steel crowd control barriers outside the building. Irving said he had no record of a call then.
“There seems to be some confusion about the basic facts and who asked for what, when,” observed Republican Senator Josh Hawley. Senators asked for phone records.
Washington, DC, metropolitan police rushed to the scene after Sund requested their help at 12.58pm, the city’s acting police chief Robert Contee told senators.
His forces helped the Capitol Police control the mob and eventually clear the Capitol so that lawmakers could return to certify Biden’s victory.
But Contee said he was shocked by an inter-agency call about 2.22pm, when he heard Sund pleading with Pentagon officials for National Guard to be deployed.
Army officials were reluctant, expressing concerns about how it would look, Contee said, adding, “I was stunned at that response.”
The first members of the National Guard did not appear on the Capitol grounds until 5.40pm, Sund said.
US media reports said that congressional leaders and security officials had not wanted to see the same militarised presence around the Capitol that was stationed about the White House during summer anti-racism protests.
Scores of police were assaulted in the melee, with over 140 Capitol Police and some 65 metropolitan police injured.
More than 200 people have been charged so far for their roles in the riot, including some with ties to far-right fringe groups such as the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys.
Senators next week plan to call witnesses from the FBI, the Department of Defence and the Department of Homeland Security.
Democratic Senator Gary Peters said the incident revealed clear gaps in intelligence around domestic extremists: “The federal government must start taking these online threats seriously, to ensure they don’t cross into real-world violence.”
Most Viewed in World
Thank you for visiting My Local Pages. We hope you enjoyed checking out this post about local and Australian news published as “Capitol riot risk warning never reached top security officials, they say”. This news article was shared by My Local Pages as part of our Australian news services.
The deadly US Capitol riot on 6 January exposed devastating security and intelligence weaknesses, with military authorities reacting too slowly to calls for National Guard backup against an overwhelming mob, security officials told Congress on Tuesday local time.
In the first Senate hearing on the security failings, featuring US Capitol Police and Washington police chiefs and congressional sergeants at arms, the officials acknowledged they were blindsided by lack of intelligence and response coordination to the worst domestic insurrection since the Civil War.
In compelling testimony, they painted a picture of officers badly outnumbered by armed and coordinated insurgents.
They pointed to a series of intelligence shortcomings about the threat level including assessments of “remote” and “improbable” chances of major violence on January 6, even though extremist groups like the Proud Boys made clear they were coming to Washington that day to stir up trouble.
“These criminals came prepared for war,” said the US Capitol Police’s then-chief Steven Sund.
Yet “no entity, including the FBI, provided any intelligence indicating that there would be a coordinated violent attack on the United States Capitol by thousands of well-equipped armed insurrectionists,” a situation that left his officers “significantly outnumbered” against a violent mob.
Steven Sund resigned his post in the wake of the riot, which left five people dead including one police officer and four others.
Two other police officers died by suicide shortly afterwards.
Supporters of former Preisdent Donald Trump climbing the west wall of the US Capitol in Washington during the 6 January riot.
House sergeant-at-arms Paul Irving and Senate sergeant-at-arms Michael Stenger also stepped down.
At a rare joint hearing of the Senate’s homeland security and rules committees,Mr Irving testified that “the intelligence was not that there would be a coordinated assault on the Capitol, nor was that contemplated in any of the inter-agency discussions that I attended in the days before the attack.”
‘Worst of the worst’
The unprecedented breach of the citadel of American democracy occurred on 6 January after then-president Donald Trump whipped up a crowd of his supporters, urging them to march on Congress and “fight like hell.”
The riot, fuelled by Mr Trump’s repeated false claims that the election was rigged, appeared aimed at blocking the certification of Joe Biden as winner of the 3 November vote.
Captain Carneysha Mendoza, US Capitol Police testifies in a Senate committee hearing
Getty Images North America
Washington’s acting police chief Robert Contee said his officers were literally “fighting for their lives” on Capitol Hill.
But he was “stunned at the response” by the Department of the Army, which he said was “reluctant” to send National Guard troops to protect the Capitol.
Officials participating in the hearing agreed that a thorough review of intelligence sharing operations and internal processes is needed to determine reforms to be made in order to avoid any repeat of 6 January.
Senate Homeland Security Committee chairman Gary Peters, a Democrat, described 6 January as “one of our nation’s darkest days,” and said the security problems at the Capitol marked “a systemic and leadership failure” that must be addressed.
Senators also heard a gripping account of the unrest by Capitol Police Captain Carneysha Mendoza, including how she helped keep a group of rioters at bay as they forced their way into the building.
“This was by far the worst of the worst,” Captain Mendoza said, noting how rioters deployed “military-grade CS gas,” commonly known as tear gas, in the Rotunda as they fought with police.
“We could have had 10 times the amount of people working with us, and I still believe the battle would have been just as devastating,” she said.
Thanks for stopping by and checking this post about the latest national news items called “‘These criminals came prepared for war’: Security failures under scrutiny as US Senate holds first hearing on Capitol riots”. This post was posted by MyLocalPages as part of our news aggregator services.
Razor wire on fencing and National Guard troops still in place on Capitol Hill on Tuesday are haunting reminders of the deadly assault on Jan. 6 that left 140 police officers injured and five people dead.
The fallout from the attack continues as the Senate holds the first public meeting into security failures as part of a joint investigation by the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the Senate Rules and Administration Committee.
Testifying are top officials responsible for security at the Capitol on Jan. 6. Three of those officials, former U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, former Senate Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger and former House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving, resigned in the immediate wake of the attack.
Also being questioned is the Metropolitan Police Department’s acting chief, Robert Contee. His agency provided backup for the Capitol security force that was overrun by the pro-Trump mob.
The first witness, though, was Capitol Police Capt. Carneysha Mendoza, who gave a first-hand account about the brutality of the assault.
When she arrived at the scene, Mendoza told lawmakers, she immediately noticed, as a military veteran, a heavy smoke-like residue that she identified as military-grade CS gas, “The rioters continued to deploy CS into the Rotunda. Officers received a lot of gas exposure, which is worse inside of the building rather than outside because there is nowhere it could go. I have received chemical burns to my face that still have not healed to this day.”
She said she was in engaged in the battle for almost four hours and that even if Capitol Police had 10 times the number of officers, they would have been overmatched.
“As an American and as an Army veteran, it is sad to see us attacked by our fellow citizens. I’m sad to see the unnecessary loss of life. I’m sad to see the impact this has had on Capitol Police officers. And I’m sad to see the impact this has had on our agency and on our country,” she said.
In his opening statement, Sund called the attack on the Capitol “the worst attack on law enforcement and our democracy” that he’s seen in his 30-year-career and laid blame on various federal agencies for poor planning, not the Capitol Police.
“Based on the intelligence that we received, we planned for an increased level of violence at the Capitol and that some participants may be armed. But none of the intelligence we received, predicted what actually occurred,” Sund said.
The former chief said that “extensive” preparations were put in place ahead of the riot including “intelligence and information sharing with our federal and local partners, and department officials, implementing significant enhancements for Member protection, the development of extensive operational enhancements to include the additional posting of officers around and inside the congressional buildings, a significant civil disobedience deployment, and an expanded perimeter, and the distribution of additional protective equipment for the officers.”
Sund, sometimes getting emotional, said as late as Jan. 5 there was a meeting with top intelligence officials including the FBI – and they provided no new intelligence.
“We properly planned for a mass demonstration with possible violence, what we got was a military-style coordinated assault on my officers and the violent takeover of the Capitol building,” he said.
Stenger, the former Senate sergeant at arms, speaking publicly for the first time, said in his opening remarks that Washington, D.C., is a “unique environment” for law enforcement in the region and said everything should be reviewed.
“There is an opportunity to learn lessons from the events of January 6th. Investigations should be considered as to funding and travel of what appears to be professional agitators. First Amendment rights should always be considered in conjunction with professional investigations,” he said.
Contee, in his opening remarks, noted that his police officers are barred from making arrests on Capitol grounds but based on the experience of prior demonstrations they knew violence was a possibility. He too made clear that MPD intelligence did not predict what occurred on Jan. 6.
“The District did not have intelligence pointing to a coordinated assault on the Capitol.”
Contee noted police officers found pipe bombs outside of the Democratic National Committee and Republican National Committee headquarters nearby. His said his department had four objectives on Jan. 6: stopping rioters, securing the perimeter, allowing Congress to resume and making arrests.
He said he was “stunned” by the U.S. Army’s response, saying military officials were “reluctant to send the D.C. National Guard to the Capitol.”
“While I certainly understand the importance of both planning and public perception – the factors cited by the staff on the call – these issues become secondary when you are watching your employees, vastly outnumbered by a mob, being physically assaulted,” he said.
Contee says he was “shocked” that the Army did not more quickly agree to deploy the National Guard.
“The Army staff responded that they were not refusing to send them, but wanted to know the plan and did not like the optics of boots on the ground at the Capitol,” he said.
During his opening statement, Irving, the former House sergeant at arms, also speaking publicly for the first time, told lawmakers that he spoke with Sund and Stenger on Jan. 4 about using 125 unarmed National Guard troops to work traffic duty near the Capitol to free up Capitol Police officers.
Irving said the idea of “optics” did not play a role in his decision not to station National Guard troops at the Capitol beforehand, saying the intelligence he received didn’t warrant it.
“Let me be clear, optics, as portrayed in the media, played no role whatsoever in my decisions about security. And any suggestion of the contrary is false. Safety was always paramount when making security plans for January 6th. We did discuss whether the intelligence warranted having troops at the Capitol, and our collective judgment at that time was no—the intelligence did not warrant,” Irving said
A dispute on a key point — when the National Guard was requested — arose when GOP Sen. Roy Blunt asked Irving about his statement that he approved the assistance as soon as Sund asked for it.
“Mister Sund stated that he asked for the National Guard assistance at 1:09, and you approved — it was approved at 2:10. Why would it take an hour to approve National Guard assistance on your part in that moment of crisis?”
“Senator, from my recollection, I did not receive a request for approval for National Guard until shortly after 2 p.m.,” Irving answered.
“All right. Let me get that straightened out, Blunt responded. “Mr. Sund, do you know when you asked for National Guard assistance? Was it 1:09 or:0 2 p.m.?”
“It was 1:09, sir,” Sund answered.
“Sir, I have no recollection of a conversation at that time,” Irving then told Blunt. “I was on the floor during the Electoral College session.”
Lawmakers said they will use the hearing to determine what security is needed in Washington moving forward.
The committee chairs, Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Gary Peters, D-Mich., said another hearing will include representatives from the Department of Defense, FBI, Homeland Security, and other agencies. Lawmakers from both parties said they want to prevent incidents like the siege from ever happening again.
Earlier this month, ABC News obtained a copy of a letter sent by Sund, who said the intelligence leading up to the event didn’t indicate it would become as violent as it did.
“Perfect hindsight does not change the fact that nothing in our collective experience or our intelligence – including intelligence provided by FBI, Secret Service, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and D.C. Metropolitan Police (MPD) – indicated that a well-coordinated, armed assault on the Capitol might occur on Jan. 6,” Sund wrote.
In his letter, he wrote intelligence officials indicated Jan. 6 would be similar to previous mostly peaceful post-election demonstrations in November and December.
Sund said he directed the Capitol Police to have every sworn officer working, and activated seven Civil Disturbance Unit platoons, which included approximately 250 officers. Four of those platoons were equipped with helmets, protective clothing and shields.
On Jan. 5, Sund hosted a virtual meeting focused on the Jan. 6 event as well as the inauguration. “During the meeting, no entity, including the FBI, provided any intelligence indicating that there would be a coordinated violent attack on the United States Capitol by thousands of well-equipped armed insurrectionists,” Sund wrote.
“There is no question that on Jan. 6, a breakdown of leadership, preparation and response allowed domestic terrorists — including white supremacist and anti-government groups — to breach the Capitol in an attempt to overturn a free and fair election,” Peters told ABC News in a statement. “The American people deserve to know how it happened and what actions lawmakers will take to prevent hate groups and dangerous conspiracy theorists from further attacking our country.”
“The entire intelligence community seems to have missed this,” he added.
In his opening remarks, the ranking member on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, remembered Capitol Police officer Howard Liebengood, who days afterward died by suicide. “No officer was more dedicated to the mission of the Capitol Hill Police Department admission and duty to serve and protect. And I’m proud to call him a friend,” Portman said.
Portman added he wants to know why “the Capitol was overtaken in a matter of hours, we need to know whether Capitol Police officers were properly trained and equipped to respond to an attack on the Capitol, and if not, why not. And we need to know why the Capitol complex itself was so vulnerable and insecure, that it could be so easily overrun.”
ABC News’ Jack Date and Trish Turner contributed to this report.
Thank you for dropping by My Local Pages and reading this news release involving International and USA Business news and updates titled “Senate holds 1st public hearing into Capitol assault security failures”. This article was posted by My Local Pages as part of our news aggregator services.
In a 2007 appearance on David Letterman, then-Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., claimed he was arrested at the U.S. Capitol when he was 21 years old.
Letterman asked Biden what it was like to walk into the U.S. Senate chamber after being elected at the age of 29. Biden responded that he had actually walked into the Senate chamber when he was 21 and got arrested.
“In those days, no guards stopping you everywhere. And they just got out of session. I walked in the back, all of the sudden I found myself in the chamber. I was stunned. I walked up, sat down in the presiding officer’s seat, guy grabbed by the shoulder, said: ‘you’re under arrest,’” Biden said.
It was unclear whether or the nation’s 46th president was indeed arrested at the age of 21.
Biden once claimed he was arrested while trying to visit Nelson Mandela in South Africa during the apartheid era. He later backtracked saying that by “arrested,” he meant he was “not able to move.”
“Literally nine years later, as I walked onto the Senate floor through the same door, that same guy, cop, said to me, ‘Senator, you remember me?’ I said, ‘geez, I don’t.’ He said, ‘I arrested you nine years ago…welcome back.’”
Biden was previously caught bragging about other arrests that turned out not to be true.
Follow below for more updates on the Biden White House. Mobile users click here.
Thank you for visiting My Local Pages and seeing this story regarding current United States news named “LIVE UPDATES: Joe Biden claimed he was once arrested at the US Capitol”. This news update was posted by My Local Pages as part of our USA news services.
WASHINGTON — Justice Department officials are adding prosecutors and agents to their sprawling investigation into the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol as it moves into a more complicated phase and they strategize about how to handle the large caseload, including trying to stave off a potential backlog in the courts, according to law enforcement officials.
Their effort to charge more complex cases was evident on Friday when prosecutors secured an indictment expanding an existing conspiracy case against the right-wing militia group the Oath Keepers, accusing six more suspected members of the group of organizing a military-style attack on the Capitol to help President Donald. J. Trump overturn the election results and remain in power.
The investigation has already resulted in charges against more than 230 people and in scores of subpoenas. More than a dozen federal prosecutors from around the country have been assigned to work with the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, which is leading the investigation, and it could lead to 400 to 500 criminal cases in total, according to a law enforcement official.
Michael R. Sherwin, the acting U.S. attorney in Washington who has been overseeing the inquiry, will soon step down from his appointed post. But officials are planning to keep him on to continue to oversee the investigation from Justice Department headquarters in Washington, according to people familiar with the leadership discussions.
The F.B.I.’s Washington Field Office, which moved quickly in the days after the attack to handle a voluminous amount of tips, digital clues and interviews, will see more of that work farmed out to field offices around the country. The bureau’s Domestic Terrorism Operations Section, which has long overseen the investigation from F.B.I. headquarters, will coordinate that work.
In the weeks immediately after the siege on Congress, the speed of the F.B.I.’s investigation provided a glimmer of hope that the rioters would be held accountable, as the government grappled with security failures that allowed the pro-Trump mob to breach one of the most fortified buildings in one of the most secure cities in the nation.
But the investigation has now hit an inflection point, where the easy cases have mostly been made and more complex ones loom.
Mr. Sherwin signaled the shift last month at a news conference, saying the pace of arrests would plateau as prosecutors focused on building “the more complicated conspiracy cases related to possible coordination among militia groups.”
Now federal prosecutors are discussing obtaining guilty pleas from defendants and trying to secure suspects’ cooperation, according to a law enforcement official.
Major criminal investigations often depend on intelligence from informants and cooperating witnesses, current and former prosecutors say. But the riot investigation, which has been highly unusual in many respects, has resulted in hundreds of charges with little cooperation from people involved and instead based almost entirely on evidence gathered from social media and tips from family members and acquaintances.
To file more serious charges accusing suspects of organized plots to overturn the election, the government may need the cooperation of those already swept up by the F.B.I. who might want a lesser sentence.
“Cooperators are the de facto experts on a crime because they’re on the inside of a conspiracy,” said Glenn Kirschner, a former prosecutor in Washington who focused on homicide and racketeering cases. “They can bring direct evidence to the jury about who was playing what role inside; what the hierarchy was and what the structure was inside the organization.”
The Justice Department first charged members of the Oath Keepers last month with plotting to go to Washington to breach the Capitol, its first major conspiracy case, without cooperation. In the original charges, prosecutors noted that three members of the group could be seen in widely circulated videos dressed in paramilitary gear and moving in coordinated fashion through the chaotic mob.
On Friday, the department charged six more people in the plot, including Kelly Meggs, the self-described leader of the organization’s Florida chapter who, according to the indictment, wrote on Facebook, “Gentlemen we are heading to DC.” Another Florida Oath Keeper, Graydon Young, arranged firearm and combat training for himself and others, according to the indictment.
Members of the Oath Keepers who have been charged with conspiracy have so far shown no public sign that they would be willing to cooperate. One, Thomas E. Caldwell, has vowed fight those charges in court.
But that may shift. This week, Dominic Pezzola, a member of the right-wing extremist nationalist group the Proud Boys, indicated in a court filing that he would be willing to plead guilty and “make amends.”
Should the Justice Department be able to obtain guilty pleas, that could ease the pressure on Washington’s federal courts, which halted nearly all trials in response to the coronavirus pandemic and faces a yearlong backlog.
Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell of the Federal District Court in Washington, who early in her career worked on Capitol Hill as an aide to Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, has made no effort to hide her disdain for some of the Capitol case suspects.
“What happened on that day is criminal conduct that is destined to go down in the history books of this country,” she said during a proceeding in the case of Richard “Bigo” Barnett, who was seen in photographs with his feet propped up on a desk in the office of Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He pleaded not guilty to charges that he unlawfully entered the Capitol with a dangerous weapon, a walking stick used as a stun gun.
Judge Howell said that the charges failed to “properly capture the scope of what Mr. Barnett is accused of doing here,” and she said that residents were “still living here in Washington, D.C., with the consequences of the violence that this defendant is alleged to have participated in.”
Judge Howell also told The National Law Journal that “there is no question that in criminal cases where the defendant wants a trial, the trials have all been delayed.” But she said that the court had “a plan to hit the ground running as soon as we resume trials.” A spokeswoman said that the details were being worked out.
While a backlog has built up because of the pandemic, the court’s docket shows that scores of criminal cases have continued to be processed and concluded in video proceedings, as defendants reach plea deals with prosecutors and are sentenced.
Even so, Mr. Kirschner predicted that “the court dockets will be crushed if the Justice Department doesn’t plead a whole bunch of these cases out,” estimating that the Federal District Court in Washington handles about 400 cases a year.
Prosecutors have said they expect that members of extremist groups may want their cases to go to trial so that they can use the venue as a platform for their propaganda. But they may not soon see time in court.
Alan Feuer contributed reporting from New York, and Adam Goldman from Washington.
Thank you for visiting My Local Pages. We hope you enjoyed checking out this post involving USA and International news called “Justice Dept. Confronts Increasingly Complex Capitol Riot Inquiry”. This news release was posted by MyLocalPages as part of our news aggregator services.