Merrick Garland Puts Trump Family & Jan. 6 Criminals On Notice

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U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland has pledged to secure accountability from all of those who committed criminal acts in relation to the January 6 attack on the Capitol. Although he did not commit to pursuing criminal proceedings against former President Trump, he also didn’t commit to not doing so, and in the meantime, the House committee investigating the Capitol riot recently laid out in a court filing how they believed Trump to possibly be guilty of crimes including obstruction of an official proceeding. The proceeding that Trump targeted was the Congressional session to certify the presidential election outcome. Recently, Texas resident Guy Reffitt became the first Capitol rioter to be convicted of that charge at trial; it comes with a potential prison sentence of up to 20 years. Reffitt was the first rioter to go to trial, period — many others opted to plead guilty. Garland, meanwhile, commented as follows:

‘We are not avoiding cases that are political or cases that are controversial or sensitive… What we are avoiding is making decisions on a political basis, on a partisan basis… We begin with the cases that are right in front of us with the overt actions and then we build from there… And that is a process that we will continue to build until we hold everyone accountable who committed criminal acts with respect to January 6.’

There’s certainly some immediately available, real-world evidence for Garland’s comments — it’s just recently, especially compared to the amount of time that’s passed since the riot, that federal prosecutors unveiled their first seditious conspiracy charges tied to the violence. One of those hit with the charge has since pleaded guilty to it and agreed to provide information to prosecutors; that individual is Joshua James, a member of the violent, far-right group known as the Oath Keepers. That group’s leader has also been charged with seditious conspiracy. Even more recently, the former national leader of the far-right group known as the Proud Boys — Henry “Enrique” Tarrio — was also charged with criminal conspiracy in relation to the riot, although Tarrio’s charge wasn’t of the seditious variety. Garland added the following regarding the scope of the ongoing riot investigation:

‘Every FBI office, almost every U.S. attorney’s office in the country is working on this matter. We’ve issued thousands of subpoenas, seized and examined thousands of electronic devices, examined terabytes of data, thousands of hours of videos. People are working every day, 24-7, and are fully aware of how important this is. This had to do with the interference with the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to another. And it doesn’t get more important than that.’

In the course of the riot investigation, “[More] than 775 individuals have been arrested in nearly all 50 states for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol, including over 245 individuals charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement,” federal authorities say. Trump has repeatedly raised the prospect of issuing pardons for people involved in the riot if he becomes president again.