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Tag: insurrection

Oath Keeper Leader Charged with Seditious Conspiracy for Role in Jan. 6 Riot

Alex Gakos/Shutterstock.com

By Steve Neavling

The leader and founder of the extremist far-right group Oath Keepers and 10 others were arrested and charged with seditious conspiracies and other crimes for their involvement in the Jan. 6 Capitol siege, the Justice Department announced Thursday.

Stewart Rhodes, 56, was arrested in Little Elm, Texas. 

The Oath Keepers is a loosely organized group that focuses on recruiting current and former military, law enforcement and first-responder personnel. 

According to the indictment, the defendants were wearing paramilitary gear and using a military formation to navigate the crowds and enter the Capitol. 

They assaulted U.S. Capitol Police and conspired to storm the Capitol to prevent the certification of Joe Biden’s victory, prosecutors said. 

The indictment marks the first time anyone has been charged with sedition for participating in the riot. 

Since the riot, more than 725 people from nearly every state has been charged in connection with the insurrection. Of those, 225 have been charged with assaulting or impending law enforcement. 

One Year Later, Garland Says DOJ Has ‘No Higher Priority’ than Jan. 6 Probe

Alex Gakos/Shutterstock.com

By Steve Neavling

Attorney General Merrick Garland on Wednesday said the investigation into the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol is far from over and pledged to hold everyone responsible. 

“The Justice Department remains committed to holding all January 6th perpetrators, at any level, accountable under law, whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy,” Garland said on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the riot. “We will follow the facts wherever they lead.”

So far, the investigation has led to more than 725 arrests and roughly 165 guilty pleas, and about 70 rioters have been sentenced. 

Garland said about 140 federal prosecutors have worked on the case. 

At least 140 officers were injured during the siege. 

“Those involved must be held accountable,” Garland said. “And there is no higher priority for us at the Department of Justice.”

The Democratic-led House select committee also is investigating the riot. 

In a speech Thursday, President Biden is expected to speak on the “singular responsibility” of former President Trump, who riled up supporters before the riot and spread lies about the election, CNN reports.

Also on Thursday, members of Congress are expected to take a moment of silence and take testimonials from those who were at the Capitol during the attack. 

Ex-Homeland Security Official Cuccinelli Questioned by Congressional Committee about Jan. 6

Ken Cuccinelli

By Steve Neavling

Former top Homeland Security official Ken Cuccinelli was questioned by the U.S. House committee that is investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. 

Cuccinelli, who served as deputy Homeland Security secretary from 2019 to 2021, was asked about the events of Jan. 6 and what the agency did to prepare for them, CNN reports.

He said the committee also asked him about discussions he had with Trump. He said he declined to discuss details of those conversations. 

Cuccinelli was considered a Trump loyalist and was often in meetings when the administration discussed the election results. Trump even broached the idea of appointing Cuccinelli to serve as “special counsel” to investigate voter fraud.

Capitol Police Exodus Followed Jan. 6 Insurrection

Alex Gakos/Shutterstock.com

By Steve Neavling

Since the Jan. 6 riot in Washington D.C., about 130 Capitol Police officers have left their jobs, a Senate panel was told Tuesday. 

There are now more than 230 vacancies in the roughly 2,000-officer force. 

“They are down significantly (in) officers and they need to bring … folks on that can augment that,” Michael Bolton, the inspector general for Capitol Police, told the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, USA Today reports.

The Capitol riot left about 140 officers injured, and five have died since. Two of the deaths were Capitol Police officers, including Brian Sicknick, who died from a stroke the following day, and Howard Liebengood, who committed suicide days later.

While Bolton said morale has improved since the riot, he said there are concerns about overtime and recruiting. 

A House task force in April recommended hiring 854 officers, including 350 to reduce an alarming increase in overtime. 

Congress still hasn’t decided on funding for the department. 

“This work is crucial to securing the work of the Capitol,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., who heads the committee, said. 

FBI Failed to Act on Detailed Tips about Violence Ahead of Jan. 6 Riot

Alex Gakos/Shutterstock.com

By Steve Neavling

The FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies received a plethora of detailed and credible tips about potential violence on Jan. 6, but they failed to act ahead of the insurrection, The Washington Post reports.

In one case, the FBI received a tip on Dec. 20 that supporters of then-President Trump were discussing ways to sneak in guns to Washington D.C. to “overrun” police and kidnap members of Congress. Sen. Mitt Romney, a Utah Republican whom Trump often criticized, was one of the targets. 

The tips continued to come in, many that were very specific and detailed, but the FBI failed to act. 

While the FBI passed the information to law enforcement agencies in Washington, agents didn’t pursue the threats themselves. 

“The individual or group identified during the Assessment does not warrant further FBI investigation at this time,” an internal bureau report concluded at the time. 

Despite all of tips, top officials wrongly suspected that the biggest threat was for violence between Trump supporters and Trump opponents. 

“The paralysis that led to one of the biggest security failures in the nation’s history was driven by unique breakdowns inside each law enforcement agency and was exacerbated by the patchwork nature of security across a city where responsibilities are split between local and federal authorities,” The Post wrote.

Biden Supports DOJ Prosecuting Trump Allies Who Defy Subpoena to Testify

U.S. Capitol

By Steve Neavling

President Biden said he supports prosecuting Trump allies and officials who defy subpoenas to testify before the House Select Committee that is investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. 

“I hope the committee goes after them and holds them accountable,” Biden told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins on Friday.

Asked if he supports prosecution for those people, Biden responded, “I do, yes.”

Committee leaders said they were taking steps to hold Steve Bannon, a Trump ally and former administration officials, in contempt, for refusing to comply with a subpoena. 

Ultimately, the decision belongs to the Justice Department, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said when asked about it Thursday. 

“That would be up to the Department of Justice, and it would be their purview to determine. They’re an independent agency,” she told reporters at a White House press briefing on October 8. “They’re independent. They would determine any decision on criminal prosecutions. I’d point you to them and, of course, the committee.”

The Justice Department hasn’t said yet what it plans to do. 

“The Department of Justice will make its own independent decisions in all prosecutions based solely on the facts and the law. Period. Full stop,” DOJ spokesman Anthony Coley said Friday. 

Homeland Security Warns about Potential for Violence at ‘Justice for J6’ Rally

Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Photo via Shutterstock.

By Steve Neavling

Homeland Security officials expressed concern about the potential for violence at an upcoming right-wing rally to advocate for the jailed Jan. 6 rioters. 

In a bulletin to law enforcement partners, the Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis warned about a “small number of recent online threats” related to the Justice for J6 rally on Saturday and noted there were “online discussions encouraging violence the day before the rally,” CBS News reports.

Meanwhile, U.S. Capitol Police are erecting a chain-link fence around the Capitol building and requested the National Guard Quick Reaction Force and D.C. Metropolitan police to be prepared in the event of violence. 

The bulletin says that some social media users discussed rushing the Capitol, and one user “commented on kidnapping an identified member of Congress.”

“Other references to violence identified on social media include discussions of using the rally to target local Jewish institutions, elected officials, and ‘liberal churches,'” the bulletin states. 

Authorities expected as many as 700 people attend the rally. 

Making matters worse, former President Trump criticized the prosecution of hundreds of rioters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, CNBC reports.

“Our hearts and minds are with the people being persecuted so unfairly relating to the January 6th protest concerning the Rigged Presidential Election,” Trump said in a written statement. 

“In addition to everything else, it has proven conclusively that we are a two-tiered system of justice. In the end, however, JUSTICE WILL PREVAIL!” Trump said.

Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-N.J., responded by accusing Trump  of “trying again to gin up insurrection and get people killed.”

“I’ve called for trump to be arrested and prosecuted for his Jan 6 treason,” Pascrell tweeted. “Nothing has changed.”

FBI Releases New Video of Suspect Who Placed Bombs Outside RNC, DNC on Eve of Jan. 6 Riot

Screenshot from a new video released by the FBI of the pipe bomb suspect.

By Steve Neavling

The FBI on Wednesday released new information and video surveillance of the suspect wanted for placing pipe bombs in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington D.C. the night before the Jan. 6 insurrection. 

The new video, which is the clearest to be released, shows the suspect sitting on a park bench near the Democratic National Headquarters, close to where the suspect placed one of the bombs. 

Included in the video is a virtual map that shows where the suspect walked while depositing the bombs between 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

The suspect was wearing a face mask, glasses, a grey-hooded sweatshirt, gloves, and black-and-light grey Nike Air Max Speed Turf shoes with a yellow logo. The bombs were transported in a backpack. 

The FBI believes the suspect is not from the area. 

“The FBI is extremely grateful to the American people who have already provided us with vital assistance in this case,” Steven M. D’Antuono, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, said in a statement. “Since January, the FBI has conducted more than 800 interviews, collected more than 23,000 video files, and assessed more than 300 tips related to this investigation. Those tips have helped us uncover new information, which we are releasing today and asking the public to view it and call us with any information you think may be relevant.”

He added, “We know it is hard to report information about a friend or family member, but these pipe bombs were viable devices that could have detonated, causing innocent bystanders to be seriously injured or killed. Your tip could be the one that prevents this person from harming themselves or anyone else.”