WaPo: DOJ And FBI Debating Whether Or Not To Charge Some Capitol Rioters

A man wearing a QAnon sweatshirt faces US Capitol police officers as they try to stop supporters of President Donald Trump from entering the Capitol on January 6, 2021. (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
January 23, 2021 5:23 p.m.

Federal law enforcement officials are privately considering whether they should not charge some of the rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol this month, according to a report from the Washington Post on Saturday

No decisions have been reached in the early-stage discussions about whether to back away from charging some members of Trump’s mob who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, multiple people familiar with the discussions told the Post.

But concerns over the work ahead of investigators and prosecutors, has reportedly come into play as far as laying out the practicality of advancing charges against all of those involved in a riot that could have involved as many as 800 people according to rough estimates from the Post’s sources.

While Justice Department officials have pledged to identify and arrest those who stormed the Capitol, there are ongoing deliberations about whether or not to charge all of them, sources told the Post.

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The debate comes as the credibility of the Justice Department and the FBI continues to crumble under decided failures in security and intelligence before the deadly siege on the nation’s citadel of democracy.

Additionally, given that the Jan. 6 riot involved a great number of white supremacists, the considerations not to charge, raise concerns over a justice system that has been marred by a long legacy of treating Black people unequally and that had sparked a fresh wave in racial justice movements last summer. 

While some federal officials have privately suggested those who have only been tied to unlawful entry of the Capitol should not be charged, others have argued the importance of sending a strong message to discourage similar conduct in the future, people familiar with the discussions told the Post.

DOJ spokesman Marc Raimondi told the Post in an email that “there is absolute resolve from the Department of Justice to hold all who intentionally engaged in criminal acts at the Capitol accountable.”

“We remain confident that the U.S. District Court for Washington, DC can appropriately handle the docket related to any resulting charges,” the spokesman said. 

The insight into the DOJ’s internal discussions also follows efforts by White House press secretary Jen Psaki to lay out plans for how the Biden administration would counter “domestic violent extremism” in the wake of the Capitol siege.

The Justice Department has already charged more than 135 individuals with committing crimes in or around the Capitol building, with many more charges anticipated in the coming weeks.


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