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Tag: u.s. capitol

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. 

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. 

Capitol Police Officer Speaks Out about Fatal Shooting of Ashli Babbitt

Alex Gakos/Shutterstock.com

By Steve Neavling

The Capitol police officer who shot and killed Ashli Babbitt during the Jan. 6 siege said he pulled the trigger to “save the lives of members of Congress and myself and my fellow officers.”

For the first time, Lt. Michael Byrd spoke publicly about the Capitol attack and his reasons for firing his weapon during an interview with NBC News’ Lester Holt on Thursday night. 

Byrd, a 35-year-old Air Force veteran, said he’s been threatened, and some of the attacks have been racist. 

“They talked about killing me, cutting off my head,” Byrd said. “It’s all disheartening, because I know I was doing my job.”

The interview comes several days after an internal investigation cleared Byrd of wrongdoing, saying he followed department policy, which allows deadly force when there’s a reasonable expectation of serious physical harm to themselves or others. 

“If they get through that door, they’re into the House chamber and upon the members of Congress,” Byrd told NBC, saying Babbitt had been “posing a threat to the United States House of Representatives.” 

Byrd said he saved lives: “I know members of Congress, as well as my fellow officers and staff, were in jeopardy and in serious danger. And that’s my job.”

Also on Thursday, seven other Capitol police officers filed a lawsuit against former President Trump and others, including right-wing extremists groups, accusing them of conspiring to promote groundless claims of widespread fraud that fueled the riot.

FBI Finds No Compelling Evidence That Jan. 6 Riot Was a Coordinated Plot

Alex Gakos/Shutterstock.com

By Steve Neavling

The FBI has found no compelling evidence to suggest the Jan. 6 riot was part of a coordinated plot to overturn the presidential election, four current and former law enforcement officials tell Reuters.

Of the more than 570 people arrested for their role in the riot, a vast majority were not connected to each other or far-right groups. 

“Ninety to ninety-five percent of these are one-off cases,” a former senior law enforcement official said. “Then you have 5%, maybe, of these militia groups that were more closely organized. But there was no grand scheme with Roger Stone and Alex Jones and all of these people to storm the Capitol and take hostages.”

Of those arrested, 40 were charged with conspiracy for allegedly plotting the attack. More than 170 people have been charged with assaulting or impeding a police officer.

A congressional investigation is underway, in part, to determine whether the riot was part of an organized plot. 

So far, the FBI has found no evidence that former President Trump or those around him helped coordinate with others to overtake the building. 

GAO: DHS Dropped Ball on Security During Jan. 6 Riot at U.S. Capitol

Alex Gakos/Shutterstock.com

By Steve Neavling

The Department of Homeland Security mishandled the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol and should have anticipated the violence and increased security ahead of the event, according to the Government Accountability Office. 

The report, titled “Capitol Attack: Special Event Designations Could Have Been Request for January 6, 2021, but Not All DHS Guidance Is Clear,” was issued Monday.

The GAO suggested Homeland Security failed to ensure there was adequate security at the Capitol, despite plenty of evidence of possible violence, including threats on social media. 

“There were indications, such as social media posts, that additional security may have been needed at the Capitol Complex on January 6,” the GAO report states.

According to the report, DHS could have coordinated security or asked Secret Service to handle it. 

“A designation would likely have assured additional security to help respond to the January 6 attack on the Capitol,” the GAO said.

So far, the FBI has arrested about 535 people for participating in the insurrection, which led to the deaths of five people either during or immediately after the riot. About 140 officers also were injured. 

DOJ Authorizes Former Trump Officials to Testify in Jan. 6 Congressional Probe

Alex Gakos/Shutterstock.com

By Steve Neavling

The Justice Department has given permission to former Trump administration officials to participate in Congress’ investigation into the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. 

The DOJ notified the former officials this week and said they could give “unrestricted testimony” to the House Oversight and Reform Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee, The New York Times reports.

The committee are investigating Trump’s role in the riot and the former administration’s efforts to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory. 

The notification alleviates fears that the Justice Department would assert executive privilege, a common tactic used by Trump’s White House to avoid administration officials from testifying before Congress. 

According to the department’s notice, former officials may provide unrestricted testimony “so long as the testimony is confined to the scope of the interviews set forth by the committees” and does not disclose classified information or pending criminal cases. 

Off-Duty DEA Agent Charged in Connection with Jan. 6 Insurrection, Lying to FBI

Off-duty DEA Agent Mark Sami Ibrahim posed for a photo with his badge. Photo: FBI

By Steve Neavling

An off-duty DEA agent who flashed his badge and government-issued firearm outside the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection has been charged in connection with the riot and making a false statement to the FBI, according to court documents unsealed Tuesday.   

Mark Sami Ibrahim, of Orange County, Calif., is the first federal law enforcement officer to be charged in the riot.

He was arrested Tuesday.

Court documents indicate that Ibrahim entered a restricted area on Capitol grounds and later lied to investigators about posing for pictures with his DEA badge and firearm holstered on his hip. 

It wasn’t immediately clear if Ibrahim still works for the DEA. According to court documents, he’s a “probationary employee.”

In March, Ibrahim appeared on Fox News and said he had been fired. He defended his presence at the Capitol, saying he was with a friend to document the rally and had not stepped foot on the building’s steps.

But court documents suggest he did enter a restricted area, and his friend told the Inspector General’s office a different story.

“According to Ibrahim’s friend, Ibrahim went to the rally in order to promote himself,” an IG agent wrote. “Ibrahim had been thinking about his next move after leaving the DEA and wanted the protests to be his stage for launching a ‘Liberty Tavern’ political podcast and cigar brand.”