Jan. 6 probe, prosecutions 'far from over,' AG warns
It remains to be seen whether former President Trump will join the 950 people charged by the Department of Justice in the two years since the Capitol riot.
The FBI is still working to identify hundreds of people who committed violent crimes when a far-right mob attempted to overthrow the U.S. government two years ago this week, Attorney General Merrick Garland said Wednesday.
Garland is at the helm of the Department of Justice probe into the deadly siege that took place on Jan. 6, 2021, disrupting a ceremony in which Congress would certify the victory of Joe Biden as president-elect.
In the two years since the insurrectionist attempt to keep former President Donald Trump in power, the FBI has tracked down some 950 suspects while prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia have worked to adjudicate nearly 350 cases.
The statement by Garland ahead of Friday's anniversary describes the probe as one of the largest, most complex and most resource-intensive investigations in U.S. history.
“We have secured convictions for a wide range of criminal conduct on Jan. 6 as well as in the days and weeks leading up to the attack,” Garland said. "Our work is far from over."
Touting the countless agents, investigators, prosecutors and analysts involved in the probe, Garland noted that their work is not only unfinished but continues to forge ahead at an “unprecedented speed and scale."
Garland in particular highlighted the police officers who responded to the Capitol on Jan. 6, including the five officers who have since lost their lives: Brian Sicknick, Howard Liebengood, Jeffrey Smith, Gunther Hashida and Kyle DeFreytag.
“We will never forget the sacrifice of the law enforcement officers who defended the members of Congress and others inside the Capitol that day,” the attorney general said.
The FBI is still searching for 350 people linked to violent crimes on Capitol grounds during the siege, including more than 250 who assaulted police officers.
The longest punishment given to a Jan. 6 defendant yet came in September when a former police officer from New York City was sentenced to 10 years in prison for assaulting an officer during the riot.
Thomas Webster was turned into the FBI by his son in early 2021. The FBI has since received thousands of similar tips related to the insurrection and set up a webpage for tips specifically on violence during the Capitol breach.
The FBI webpage states that its “goal is to preserve the public’s constitutional right to protest by protecting everyone from violence and other criminal activity.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington meanwhile has created a webpage dedicated to Capitol riot case statistics, with a searchable index of defendants and other information.
Garland on Wednesday underscored his department's commitment "to ensuring accountability for those criminally responsible for the January 6 assault on our democracy,” a statement he has reiterated since the one-year anniversary of the attack.
Last month, the House lawmakers investigating the attack voted to transmit historic criminal referrals against Trump for his actions surrounding Jan. 6.
The referrals are part of the committee’s sweeping report on the insurrection, which labels Trump as the plot's mastermind.
Special counsel Jack Smith, whom Garland appointed to take over probes involving Trump after the former president launched his 2024 presidential campaign in November, is considering the referrals.
While the referrals are largely symbolic, experts told Courthouse News last month that it will likely be hard for the Department of Justice to ignore them. The charges, if proven, are punishable by significant prison time.