Washington, D.C.’s top federal prosecutor on Tuesday previewed more, and more complicated, charges for individuals involved in the Capitol attack earlier this month as the pool of evidence from the event continues to grow.
As investigators picked apart tips, video, social media information and other leads for hundreds of distinct case files, D.C.’s Acting U.S. Attorney Michael Sherwin said he expected that his office would bring more conspiracy, sedition and assault on law enforcement charges against Capitol attackers.
That’s on top of other charges like trespassing and impeding official activities that have been filed for weeks now.
“There’s no manpower issue here, we have no issues with the court,” Sherwin said at one point, seemingly refuting a report that authorities were considering not charging certain individuals involved in the siege. “These numbers are on a steep incline.”
Sherwin, who was joined on a press call by the the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s D.C. office, Steven M. D’Antuono, said the more complex cases would begin to build as prosecutors had more time to assemble evidence. Among other things, he said, prosecutors have pursued information through more than 500 search warrants and grand jury subpoenas.
In the “fog of war” immediately after the attack, prosecutors looked for the most easily provable cases against alleged participants, Sherwin said — things like trespassing.
Now, they’re after more than that. Sherwin said he believed nearly every case charged so far now includes “significant” felonies like civil disorder and obstruction of government proceedings.
Still, Sherwin cautioned that the pace of charges may “plateau” as authorities tackle more complicated cases rather than “internet stars” like the man who wore a “Camp Auschwitz” sweater in during the attack.
“We are closely looking at evidence related to the sedition charges,” Sherwin said, noting the charge could result in decades of prison time for those found guilty. “We are working on those cases, and I think the results will bear fruit very soon.”
Earlier, he’d pointed to the conspiracy charges brought against three members of the Oath Keepers, a militia group known for recruiting from law enforcement and the military. The Oath Keepers in question reportedly coordinated their trip to the Capitol and communicated using a walkie talkie app as the attack was ongoing.
An FBI agent’s affidavit on the trio noted that one Oath Keeper, Thomas Edward Caldwell, allegedly received Facebook messages during the attack directing him to tunnels under the Capitol, where members of Congress were thought to be.
“All members are in the tunnels under capital seal them in,” one message read. “Go through back house chamber doors facing N left down hallway down steps,” said another.
“That [case] was of note because it shows militia groups actively involved in planning and breaching the Capitol,” Sherwin said of the Oathkeepers.
Sherwin also noted that prosecutors are poring over hours of police officers’ body camera footage and pulling evidence of numerous assaults on police officers, even though dozens of such cases have already been charged.
“That number is going to quickly increase,” he said.