A senior Justice Department official said they were pursuing “significant crime cases related to sedition and conspiracy” during last week’s attack on the US Capitol.
Michael Sherwin, the acting U.S. prosecutor for the District of Columbia, said they had also appointed specific prosecutors to deal with cases in which members of the media were assaulted. An Associated Press photographer was among those thrown to the ground and assaulted as he attempted to take pictures during the riot.
“It didn’t matter if it was just an intrusion into the Capitol or if someone had planted a bomb. You will be charged and you will be found, ”he said.
Sherwin’s press conference, with Steven D’Antuano, the deputy director of the FBI, was the first for federal justice officials in the aftermath of the attack.
Donald Trump says his speech before Capitol siege was “totally appropriate”
CNN, MSNBC and Fox News broadcast the press conference live, bypassing President Donald Trump’s speech that took place at the same time in Texas.
Sherwin said the FBI opened 170 cases and federal officials laid charges in 70 cases. But he described a large-scale investigation similar to an investigation into international terrorism, referred to as a “meaningful counterterrorism or counterintelligence investigation”, with Capitol Hill as the crime scene. D’Antuano said they are reviewing some 100,000 digital media.
“People are going to be shocked at some of the egregious behavior that has taken place on Capitol Hill,” Sherwin said.
What remains unclear, however, is the extent to which Capitol Police have factored in the possibility of violence. The officers were swarmed by hundreds of protesters as they crossed police barriers and entered the Capitol. NBC News reported that the FBI had previously given warnings to the Capitol Police, and Sherwin confirmed that information had been shared, but did not provide details. The Washington Post reported that the FBI office in Virginia issued an internal warning that extremists were preparing to come to Washington and declare “war”.
There are now concerns about the possibility of future attacks in the days leading up to Joe Biden’s January 20 inauguration. D’Antuano said one of the challenges is determining who is practicing “keyboard bravado” and the actual threats of violence in online posts. . He also noted that action was taken before the January 6 riot, as Proud Boy leader “Enrique” Tarrio was arrested after arriving in Washington for the protests.
Five people have died in the attack on Capitol Hill by a mob of Trump supporters, sending House and Senate lawmakers to a secure area.