Prosecutors Have Had Six Months To Go After The Capitol Mob. Here’s What They Have So Far.
More than 500 arrests and counting.
WASHINGTON — Tuesday marked six months since thousands of Donald Trump supporters toppled and streamed past police barriers onto the grounds of the US Capitol, with hundreds making their way inside the building as lawmakers, staffers, and journalists scrambled to take shelter.
The investigation shows no signs of ending any time soon. New arrests have been unsealed in federal court every week since the riots. The FBI continues to solicit tips from the public to identify hundreds of suspects photographed and recorded on video at the scene. And a handful of plea deals made public so far confirm that investigators are working with cooperating defendants to build other cases.
Here’s what we know a half year in, based on BuzzFeed News’ ongoing analysis of court records and numbers provided by the Justice Department:
Number of arrests: 535+
That’s according to the latest numbers released on Tuesday by the Justice Department. Very few people were arrested at the Capitol on Jan. 6; the vast majority of the rioters who came to Washington, DC, from across the country went home. Since then, arrests have taken place on a rolling basis in nearly every state as the investigation has unfolded.
Prosecutors have continuously bumped up the benchmark for how many cases to expect. When they first started setting numerical benchmarks in court filings in March, the US attorney’s office said it anticipated bringing at least 400 cases; the number is now well past 500, and the office hasn’t articulated when it will stop. An estimated 800 people entered the Capitol on Jan. 6, and thousands gathered on the grounds in front. Prosecutors have dropped just two cases — one because the defendant died, and one for reasons they haven’t fully explained yet, only telling the judge that the decision was made “upon reflection of the facts currently known to the government.”
A significant number of cases now involve people who aren’t accused of going inside the building at all but are charged with assaulting police or destroying equipment that belonged to media outlets on the grounds outside. On Tuesday, the FBI released 11 new videos of suspects who are wanted in connection with attacks on federal officers.
Number of defendants in jail: ~70
At least 70 defendants have been ordered to stay in jail pending a trial or are being held in custody as they wait for a pretrial detention hearing to decide their fate for the foreseeable future. Most defendants have been allowed to return home, sometimes with strict conditions like home incarceration or GPS monitoring and sometimes with minimal restrictions on their movement. These release conditions depend on the severity of the charges in a given case and the degree to which judges find that a defendant poses a flight risk or a danger to the community — and, specifically, the likelihood they’ll participate in another violent demonstration. The proportion of defendants released from custody after their arrest has grown since a federal appeals court in March set the bar much higher for prosecutors to successfully argue that defendants should stay behind bars if they weren’t charged with assaulting cops, destroying property, or planning for violence.
A handful of defendants who are charged with assaulting police or taking a leadership role in organizing others to travel to DC and descend on the Capitol have tried to appeal their incarceration, arguing that their alleged conduct was less serious than that of others charged with violence that day. But the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit has so far rejected petitions to create different tiers under the umbrella of more serious conduct. Those defendants have stayed in jail.
Number of sentences: 1
The only defendant to face sentencing so far, Anna Morgan-Lloyd, received no jail time. Morgan-Lloyd, who had described entering the Capitol as “the best day ever” on Facebook, was originally charged with four misdemeanors but cut a deal with prosecutors to plead guilty to just one of them. She was sentenced to probation in June after making a tearful plea for leniency to a judge, an outcome that other defendants who cut a similar deal — and, like Morgan-Lloyd, don’t have previous convictions — are likely to argue for.
Number of plea deals: 13
Thirteen defendants have formally entered guilty pleas. Plea hearings are on the calendar this month in at least two cases, and prosecutors have confirmed plea talks are taking place in many more. Nine of the early plea deals involved defendants who were charged solely with misdemeanor crimes, and they’ve all pleaded guilty to a single count of parading, demonstrating, or picketing, which carries a maximum sentence of six months in jail.
Of the four defendants who pleaded guilty to felonies, two of them — Mark Grods and Graydon Young — admitted to being part of a conspiracy involving the Oath Keepers, a far-right militant group. Grods confirmed the government’s long-standing theory that the group had arranged to stash guns at a hotel outside of Washington, DC. Grods and Young both agreed to cooperate with the feds as part of their deals and won’t be sentenced just yet. A third person, Jon Schaffer, also had past ties to the Oath Keepers and agreed to cooperate as part of his felony plea agreement, but he isn’t connected to the conspiracy case.
Number of people charged with at least one felony count: ~289
The most common felony charged in connection with the insurrection is obstruction of an official proceeding — in this case, disrupting Congress’s certification of the Electoral College vote. It carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Defendants who plead guilty, or who are convicted but have minimal criminal records and aren’t accused of violence or other serious crimes, are likely to face far less time than that, given the way federal sentencing ranges are calculated across cases. Paul Hodgkins of Florida was the first defendant to plead guilty solely to one count of obstruction. Prosecutors and his lawyer have agreed that under the standard federal sentencing guidelines, he's likely to face a prison term of between 15 and 21 months; he could argue for less time than that.
Number of people charged with assaulting or interfering with police: 165+
Some Republican lawmakers have tried to downplay the violence inside and outside of the Capitol on Jan. 6, with one House Republican comparing the people who came through the building to tourists. But the release of police body camera footage as evidence in these cases underscores the danger officers faced as they tried to keep the mob at bay and eject rioters from the building.
Officers were punched, pushed, knocked down, trampled, sprayed with chemicals, verbally abused, and struck by objects thrown by the crowd. The Justice Department has estimated that approximately 140 officers from the US Capitol Police and Metropolitan Police Department in Washington were assaulted. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick died the next day, and although the DC medical examiner concluded he died of natural causes, the official also told the Washington Post that “all that transpired played a role in his condition.” Two men have been charged with conspiring to assault Sicknick using a chemical spray; they’re not charged in connection with his death, however.
Number of people charged with a weapons-related offense: ~60
Dozens of defendants are charged with carrying weapons to the Capitol and in some cases using them against police, including knives, flagpoles, bats, bear spray and other chemicals, fire extinguishers, metal structures that were set up in preparation for President Joe Biden’s inauguration, and stolen police riot shields. Two people have been charged with carrying a firearm onto the Capitol grounds, although neither defendant is accused of entering the building.
Estimated damage to the US Capitol by rioters: $1,495,326.55
Prosecutors have highlighted that number in plea agreements as the value of the damage done to the Capitol, and they are requiring defendants who plead guilty to agree to pay for a share of that — $2,000 for those who plead guilty to a felony, and $500 in misdemeanor cases. Rioters broke windows, kicked doors, damaged statues and paintings, and dismantled structures and equipment outside.
Number of people arrested for setting pipe bombs at the DNC and RNC headquarters: 0
One of the most pressing unresolved questions surrounding the events of Jan. 6 is who was involved in placing pipe bombs outside the buildings that house the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee. The FBI has said it believes the bombs were placed the night of Jan. 5; it’s still not clear what connection the incident has to the riots that ensued the next day at the Capitol. The agency has repeatedly asked for tips based on security camera footage that showed a person in a sweatshirt and sneakers carrying a bag at night. A $100,000 reward is on the table. So far, there’s no public indication that the FBI has made a break in the case.