Attorney General Merrick Garland promised that his department would work tirelessly to bring those responsible for the violence surrounding Joe Biden’s inauguration to justice a day after a federal jury found two far-right extremists guilty of plotting to disrupt the ceremony.
Jurors are willing to hold accountable not only the rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 but also those who plotted to subvert the election as evidenced by the convictions of Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and another leader in the far-right extremist group for seditious conspiracy.
Although the Justice Department did not completely win on Tuesday the appointment of a special counsel to investigate the insurrection stoked by President Trump’s lies about a stolen election gives the investigation new impetus.
Garland lauds the Oath Keepers Verdict but won’t say how the Investigation will Proceed after January 6th
According to sources familiar with the matter, the Justice Department will consider the seditious conspiracy conviction when deciding whether to go after other prominent Trump supporters. On the heels of a federal jury convicted two far-right extremists of plotting to unleash political violence to prevent Joe Biden‘s inauguration, Attorney General Merrick Garland vowed that his department would work tirelessly to bring to justice those responsible for attempting to overturn the 2020 election.
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Prosecutors spent the entire trial emphasizing the defendants’ connections to prominent Trump supporters like Roger Stone, “Stop the Steal” organizer Ali Alexander, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and attorneys Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani. On Wednesday, Garland would not comment on whether or not he believed that prosecutors would eventually file charges against those who had nothing to do with the January 6, 2021 attack on the United States Capitol.
Garland praises Oath Keepers verdict, won’t say where Jan. 6 probe goes
A day after a federal jury convicted two far-right extremists of leading a plot to unleash political violence to prevent the inauguration of Joe Biden, Attorney General Merrick Garland vowed that his Just… pic.twitter.com/CJ4gk7oH0x
— fastest some more media (@fastestsmm) December 1, 2022
At the same press conference where he lauded the Justice Department’s efforts to establish federal oversight of the water supply system in Jackson, Mississippi, Garland told reporters, “I don’t want to speculate on other investigations or parts of other investigations.” Both the extensive investigation that began on January 6 and the water crisis in Jackson were labeled significant matters of public interest by Garland.
I am very proud of the attorneys, investigators and staff whose tireless work and unyielding commitment to the rule of law resulted in yesterday’s two significant victories, he said. The current state of the major investigations involving President Donald Trump.
The Justice Department’s central argument presented during the seven-week trial was vindicated on Tuesday. The breach of the Capitol was not an isolated event but rather the culmination or component of wider plotting by extremists who wanted to stop the transfer of power from Trump to Biden. The jury, in this case found Stewart Rhodes, the group’s founder, and Kelly Meggs one of Rhodes’ top deputies guilty of conspiring to stage a violent resistance to federal authority by stockpiling weapons. Seditious conspiracy is one of the most serious charges brought in the massive investigation that began on January 6. It was used as the basis for both convictions.
Speaking at a rally in front of the White House in 2017, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes was found guilty of seditious conspiracy on Tuesday. People with knowledge of the investigation have said that Justice Department officials were watching the Oath Keepers verdict to decide whether to file criminal charges against other prominent pro-Trump figures involved in the events leading up to the violence.
During Tuesday’s press briefing, Garland said he had requested all interview transcripts and evidence gathered by the House Jan. 6 committee which has been conducting its own investigation into the attack. This has been a source of contention between the Justice Department and Congress for some time now and the committee still hasn’t turned over all of the documents.
According to Garland, the committee’s transcripts and other evidence gathered should be made available so that the investigation can proceed as usual. Garland appointed a special counsel to oversee investigations related to Trump and his advisers after he lost the 2020 election and a separate investigation of Trump’s possession of classified documents after he left the White House. Trump announced in mid-November that he would run for president in 2024.
However legal experts cautioned that the government’s victory was no sure thing highlighting the difficulty of prosecuting seditious conspiracy cases. Three other members of the Oath Keepers who were on trial were found not guilty of sedition. All five defendants were found guilty of interfering with Congress on January 6, 2019, when lawmakers were convening to officially certify the results of the 2020 election.
On Wednesday, Garland said the guilty verdicts make clear the department will work tirelessly to hold accountable those responsible for crimes related to attacks on our democracy on January 20, 2021.
After the Conviction of the Oath Keepers’ leader for Seditious Conspiracy, Garland holds a press Briefing
In light of the Oath Keepers verdict, it is possible that investigators will be emboldened to build cases against other major players behind the push to keep Trump in power. Despite calls for charges to be brought against Trump from Democrats and consideration of a criminal referral from the House committee investigating the insurrection to the Justice Department.
Washington white-collar criminal defence attorney Jeffrey Jacobovitz said, the fact that they got two convictions for seditious conspiracy gives the confidence that they can pursue other higher-ups and charge seditious conspiracy as well because certainly, a D.C. jury accepted it. I would be very worried about the possible charges they could bring if I were one of the other insurrection leaders.
It’s notable that these are the first seditious conspiracy convictions at trial in decades as this is a legally complex charge that can be hard for juries to understand and for prosecutors to prove especially in the case of a failed plot. Rhodes and his associates were the first to stand trial for the Civil War-era offense, but the massive Capitol riot investigation has already led to the arrest of more than 900 people across the United States and could result in hundreds more charges.
Rhodes and Kelly Meggs, leaders of the antigovernment group were found guilty of sedition by a jury for their plot to use force to prevent the transition of power from Trump to Joe Biden. Three of the defendants were found not guilty of seditious conspiracy, but all five were found guilty of obstructing Congress’ certification of the electoral vote.
Attorney General Merrick Garland called the work of Justice Department prosecutors tireless and he pledged to continue working to hold accountable those responsible for crimes related to the attack on our democracy on January 6, 2021, less than 24 hours after a jury in Washington, D.C. convicted two members of the far-right Oath Keepers group of the rare and serious seditious conspiracy charge for crimes related to the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.
During brief remarks and questions from the press on Wednesday, the nation’s top law enforcement official said his department began working on the criminal case in January 2021, just days after the attack with members of the group accused of conspiring to use force to prevent the peaceful transfer of power from Donald Trump to Joe Biden.
On Tuesday, the Justice Department announced that the group’s founder, Stewart Rhodes and a Florida associate, Kelly Meggs had been found guilty of the most serious charge brought thus far in the investigation into the attack. While Kenneth Harrelson, Jessica Watkins, and Thomas Caldwell were found not guilty of seditious conspiracy, they were found guilty of other charges including obstructing Congress’s work that day.
Garland’s comments and the end of the trial both come as Congress’s investigation into the attack on January 6 draws to a close. Chair of the House select committee looking into the attack Rep. Bennie Thompson said Wednesday that the committee had what was likely to be its final interview. The investigation team is getting ready to release their findings before the Republican majority takes over the House in January.
Garland told reporters on Wednesday that his department wants access to all of the evidence collected by the select committee including thousands of its interview transcripts so that prosecutors can use the information during the ordinary course of their investigations.
It has been reported that prosecutors and city officials have agreed to appoint an outside interim manager to fix the problems that left thousands of people without water this summer. The Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the city claiming that it had violated federal law by failing to provide safe drinking water with the hope of working with Jackson’s government to find a permanent solution to the problems.
Jackson and other communities of color indigenous communities and low-income communities that bare the brunt of environmental injustices have a long way to go, Garland said. He added that prosecutors were working with urgency to solve the issue. Garland remarked that it’s hard to imagine not being able to turn on a tap and not getting safe drinking water. You can trust that we will wrap this up as soon as humanly possible.
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- 1 Garland lauds the Oath Keepers Verdict but won’t say how the Investigation will Proceed after January 6th
- 2 After the Conviction of the Oath Keepers’ leader for Seditious Conspiracy, Garland holds a press Briefing
- 3 The Attorney General has stated that those “Responsible for Crimes” related to January 6 will be Brought to Justice