The Justice Department “remains committed to holding all January 6th perpetrators, at any level, accountable under law,” Attorney General Merrick Garland pledged in a speech just shy of the one-year anniversary of the breach of the U.S. Capitol building.
“Those who assaulted officers or damaged the Capitol face greater charges. Those who conspired with others to obstruct the vote count also face greater charges,” Garland told Justice Department employees on Wednesday, calling the Capitol breach an “unprecedented attack on our democracy.”
His remarks come as the department faces mounting pressure from lawmakers and legal experts to ramp up a probe into the events that unfolded on Jan. 6 last year.
The breach took place during a joint session of Congress when lawmakers met to certify electoral votes submitted by the states. The Capitol grounds and building were breached by protestors and some rioters, some of whom wanted to voice their stance against then-Vice President Mike Pence’s refusal to intervene in the certification process. Thousands of peaceful protesters remained outside.
Without naming anyone, Garland said the Justice Department would go after those responsible “whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy. We will follow the facts wherever they lead.”
Garland added, “The actions we have taken thus far will not be our last.”
The probe into the Capitol breach is the largest and one of the most complex in department’s history. The U.S. Department of Justice said in its year-end summary on Dec. 30 that more than 725 people have been arrested in all 50 states on federal charges stemming from violence that erupted at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Some 165 people to plead guilty—mostly to misdemeanor charges.
A further 350 people are still being sought by the FBI, of whom, 250 are accused of assaulting police officers.
“Under the continued leadership of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the FBI’s Washington Field Office, the investigation and prosecution of those responsible for the attack continues to move forward at an unprecedented speed and scale,” the DOJ said in a statement on Dec. 30. “The Department of Justice’s resolve to hold accountable those who committed crimes on Jan. 6, 2021, has not, and will not, wane.”
Democratic lawmakers have pushed the narrative that the Jan. 6 breach was an “insurrection,” largely during the January impeachment effort against the former president. No one who participated in the breach has been charged with insurrection.
The Justice Department declined to comment when asked by The Epoch Times on Wednesday why no individuals have been charged with sedition or insurrection.
“Following the usual practice, we are not commenting on cases or the investigation beyond what is publicly stated or submitted to the Court. We have no comment on the questions here,” a spokesperson said.
Garland said the probe into the events that unfolded on Jan. 6, last year, will continue “as long as it takes, and whatever it takes, for justice to be done.”
“Those involved must be held accountable, and there is no higher priority for us at the Department of Justice,” the attorney general added.
Garland’s remarks comes as the House Select Committee probing the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol appears to be ramping up its efforts to recommend that the Justice Department pursue criminal cases.
According to people briefed on their efforts, the panel is examining two areas of crime in particular in weighing criminal referrals—whether lawmakers committed wire fraud off assertions that the November 2020 presidential election was stolen, and obstruction of Congress by attempting to block electoral votes from being certified.