“Yesterday, our office organized a strike force of very senior national security prosecutors and public corruption prosecutors. Their only marching orders from me are to build seditious and conspiracy charges related to the most heinous acts that occurred in the Capitol,” Michael Sherwin, the acting U.S. attorney for Washington, said in a press conference. “And these are significant charges that have felonies with a prison term of up to 20 years.”
The DOJ has so far opened 170 cases related to the events on Jan. 6 where civil tension and eruptions of violence in the U.S. Capitol harmed otherwise peaceful protests. A group of rioters and some protesters waving American and Trump flags illegally charged the Capitol building.<
p> The invasion on the grounds left at least five people dead, including a police officer, and dozens of police officers injured.
Sherwin said he expects the number of cases to expand into the hundreds in the next coming weeks. He added that as of Tuesday, over 70 individuals have been charged in connection with the rioting and breach of peace, and suggested that many more cases will follow.
He said individuals are being accused of multiple offenses ranging from simple trespass, theft of mail, theft of digital devices, assault on local and federal officers to more serious offenses such as theft of potential national security information or national defense information and felony murder.
“The gamut of cases and criminal conduct we’re looking at is really mind-blowing,” he said. “And that has really put an enormous amount of work on the plate of the FBI and field offices throughout the entire United States.”
In addressing public blunders, Sherwin said that in order to press charges against certain individuals as quickly as possible, a large proportion of cases were opened on initial misdemeanor charges such as trespass. But he said that prosecutors have the capacity to then charge these individuals on more serious crimes after their arrest.
“After these criminal charges are filed via criminal complaints, that allows us to allow law enforcement across the United States to arrest people from Dallas to Arkansas, to Nashville, to Cleveland to Jacksonville. That’s what’s happened over the past several days,” Sherwin said. “After those charges are filed, then we have the ability to then indict these individuals on more significant charges. And that’s exactly what has happened.”
The violence at the Capitol has been denounced by President Donald Trump, President-elect Joe Biden, as well as legislators from both parties.