There were hundreds of rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. While authorities have arrested and charged an array of notable rioters, the FBI and the Justice Department are now debating whether or not they should some of the people who entered the building illegally.
According to a report the Washington Post published on Saturday (Jan 23), multiple anonymous sources close to the conversation say the FBI and the Justice Department are debating if they should charge the people who entered the building but didn’t cause or contribute to the chaos with criminal charges.
Some of the federal officials believe that the people who only committed unlawful entry and did not participate in the chaos in and around the building should not be charged. On the other hand, other federal officials and prosecutors alike believe that everyone should be charged because it enforces the message that the insurrection that occurred on Jan. 6 will not be tolerated and will be punished to the fullest extent of the law.
The latter argument would help prevent such an event from ever occurring again. However, the other half of the conversation focuses on the actual work that goes into charging each criminal. At least 135 rioters have been charged with crimes committed in the building with plenty more charges on the way. Some officials believe the rioters who didn’t participate in the destruction might cooperate and lead them to other information and suspects.
Some in federal law enforcement are also worried that more charges could back up the local courthouse. They’re also considering the possibility that charging people with no criminal history with unlawful entry could lead to losses in court. Lawyers could use what’s being coined as the “Trump defense,” which means the president and/or political figures invited them to commit the illegal acts.
For the most part, the FBI and Justice Department have followed through on their promise to capture and charge all the violent rioters. We’ll see if they truly follow through with charging each person who entered the Capitol building.