WASHINGTON—The top federal prosecutor for the District of Columbia said on Jan. 7 that 55 cases have been charged within 36 hours related mostly to the breach of the U.S. Capitol during the protests in Washington this week.
Of those cases, 40 have been filed in the D.C. Superior Court, which includes eight firearm cases, according to Michael Sherwin, acting U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia.
In addition, prosecutors plan to file 15 criminal cases in the federal court by the end of Jan. 7 for crimes including unauthorized access to the Capitol and the Capitol grounds, holding firearms, and theft of property, Sherwin told reporters.
Protesters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, interrupting a joint session of Congress that was held to count electoral votes.
A man was arrested by federal agents “with a military semi-automatic rifle and 11 Molotov cocktails that were ready to go,” Sherwin said.
“We will aggressively charge those cases,” he said. “This is just the beginning. And we are working closely with the counterterrorism prosecutor and other federal partners.”
The federal prosecutor charged roughly 174 cases in Washington criminally during the months-long protests over the death of George Floyd in 2020. By comparison, 55 cases were charged within 36 hours following the breach of the Capitol.
“I’m just trying to give you a comparison to show how aggressive and seriously we’re taking what happened yesterday,” Sherwin told reporters.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) suggested on the House floor on Jan. 7 that some protestors who breached the Capitol were “members of the violent terrorist group Antifa” who were “masquerading as Trump supporters.”
In response to questions about the group affiliation of protestors who stormed the Capitol, Sherwin said they are still searching for evidence of an organized command and control.
“It looks like there may have been a loose affiliation, but it didn’t look like there was any specific ‘militia groups’ that planned or were affiliated with the persons that we specifically charged,” he said. “It’s only been in the first 24 hours in the investigation. So a lot could happen within the next several days.”
And in response to questions about whether there has been any breach of duty by any of the Capitol Police who opened the barricades for the protestors and allowed them into the Capitol, Sherwin said federal prosecutors “are looking at all actors” involved.
He also said they would be looking at the statements made by President Donald Trump and speakers at the rally.
“We’re looking at all actors here, and anyone that had a role, if the evidence fits the elements of a crime, they’re going to be charged.”