WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Supporters of President Donald Trump who stormed the U.S. Capitol, breaking windows and stealing things, could face charges including sedition, insurrection and rioting, Washington, D.C.’s top federal prosecutor said on Thursday.
“All of those charges are on the table,” Acting U.S. Attorney Michael Sherwin told reporters in a call, when asked about possible charges of sedition, rioting or insurrection.
“We’re not going to keep anything out of our arsenal.”
The Justice Department has filed 55 criminal cases about events this week, Sherwin said, some pre-dating Wednesday’s assault on the seat of government, including the arrest of far-right Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio on Monday.
Sherwin repeatedly said no suspects in Wednesday’s riots would be ruled out - even when asked whether this could include Capitol Police who may have been complicit or Trump himself for urging protesters to march on the Capitol at a rally on Wednesday.
“We’re looking at all actors here and anyone that had a role, and the evidence fits the elements of a crime, they’re going to be charged.”
The break-in forced members of Congress who were in the process of certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s Nov. 3 election victory to evacuate the chambers for several hours.
The U.S. Capitol Police said they had arrested 14 suspected of involvement in the rioting, most charged with unlawful entry, while the Metropolitan Police Department made at least 68 arrests.
Much of the looting and rioting was caught on video and photos which went viral on social media, and the FBI has been asking the public to submit tips to help it identify and track down suspects.
The FBI is also taking the lead on an investigation into two pipe bombs that were recovered from the headquarters of the Republican and Democratic national committees.
FBI investigators were knocking on doors around Capitol Hill asking for home security videos, said Charles Allen, a Councilman for the neighborhood.
Some of the people who were arrested on minor charges such as unlawful entry or violating the city’s curfew appeared in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia on Thursday, and were ordered not to return to the city unless it was related to their criminal case.
Meanwhile, Sherwin said his office was filing 15 criminal cases in the U.S. District Court on Thursday.
In one case, a man was charged with knowingly entering a restricted building, assault on a federal officer and violent entry to the Capitol grounds.
A Capitol Police officer said in the charging documents that he was attempting to form a barricade with other officers on the Senate side when the man attempted to push past and then punched him.
While the number of people arrested is expected to grow, the initial numbers reported by Washington, D.C. police paled in comparison with the more than 300 arrested following the June 1 protests in Washington over the death of George Floyd, a Black man, at the hands of white police officer in Minneapolis.
At that protest baton-swinging police and federal agents fired smoke canisters, flash-bang grenades and rubber bullets to drive protesters farther from the White House, enabling Trump to walk across Lafayette Square and hold up a Bible in front of historic St. John’s Church.
Law enforcement officers were severely criticized for being too aggressive at Lafayette Square. The Capitol Police are now facing questions about why they did not do more to secure the Capitol building.
Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; additional reporting by Makini Brice, Daphne Psaledakis, Brad Heath and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Scott Malone, Jonathan Oatis, Sonya Hepinstall and Grant McCool
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