Supporters of US President Donald Trump gather at the west entrance of the Capitol during a “Stop the Steal” protest outside the Capitol in Washington DC on January 6, 2021.
Stephanie Keith | Reuters
Federal authorities said Tuesday they expect to soon indict hundreds of people in connection with the Capitol riot.
Officials added that they ordered a strike unit to gather evidence of hate speech and conspiracy prosecution.
And an FBI official confirmed a report that the FBI had received information about the possibility of violence prior to the riot on Wednesday and shared that information with other Washington law enforcement agencies.
“Yesterday my office organized a prosecutor’s strike force whose only orders are to bring sedition charges in connection with the most heinous acts in the Capitol,” said Michael Sherwin, acting United States attorney for the District of Columbia, during a news conference stated that the maximum possible sentence for sedition charges is 20 years in prison.
Sherwin said more than 70 people have been arrested by a group of supporters of President Donald Trump in connection with the riot last Wednesday. Around 100 more criminal proceedings were opened.
“This is the tip of the iceberg,” said Steven D’Antuono, assistant director of the FBI’s Washington Field Office
In some of these cases, fees were relatively modest, but Sherwin said he expected the fees to increase for some people.
And he reckons that the number of those arrested will “increase geometrically” in the coming weeks.
“We will focus on the main charges,” said Sherwin. “This is just the beginning.”
He said the FBI and Justice Department’s “mind-boggling” charges were criminal murder, gun possession, assault on police officers, civil rights violations, theft of mail, theft of computers and trespassing.
“For example, we had a big jury in DC yesterday,” said Sherwin. “It was booked all day. We presented riot-related crimes and gun possession.”
He said he also hired a designated prosecutor in his office to focus on attacks on journalists during the riot.
“You will be found, you will be charged,” Sherwin warned members of the mob, many of whom are believed to have returned to their homes across the country.
D’Antuono said more than 100,000 digital files containing clues about the riot were sent to investigators.
He also said that “several people” voluntarily reported their participation in the uprising to the authorities.
“Come forward,” D’Antuono urged other participants.
He said that prior to the riot, the FBI “developed information that a number of people are planning to travel to DC to cause violence”.
“We said that information and action had been taken, as demonstrated by the arrest of Enrique Tarrio the night before the rally. Other people were identified and the trip was disrupted,” he said.
At least four people died in the riot, including a Capitol policeman. Two pipe bombs were found near the Capitol complex by the headquarters of the Republican National Committee and the Democratic National Committee.
The violence began after a Trump rally where he, his son and personal attorney Rudy Giuliani called on a crowd to fight him to get Congress to reject Joe Biden’s election as president.