The acting head of the Justice Department said Wednesday that violent intruders who breached the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 would be held responsible for their actions.
Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, in a video address, said the process of bringing those responsible for the violence at the Capitol to justice has only just begun.
“The wrongdoers will be held responsible,” Rosen said.
In the last week, more than 70 people have been criminally charged, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has opened more than 170 investigations, and the FBI has received over 100,000 tips from the public, he said.
“There is a lot more to come,” Rosen added.
On Jan. 6, civil unrest and acts of violence at the Capitol marred otherwise peaceful protests. A group of rioters and some protesters waving American and Trump flags illegally stormed the Capitol building.
“One week ago, our nation collectively watched in horror as a violent mob stormed the Capitol grounds, broke down crowd control barriers, assaulted Capitol Police officers, and overran the Capitol Complex,” Rosen said. “Lives were lost.”
The mayhem on the grounds left at least five people dead, including a police officer, and dozens of officers injured.
“The storming of the Capitol was an intolerable, shocking, and tragic episode in our nation’s history,” Rosen added.
At a joint DOJ and FBI press conference Tuesday, Michael Sherwin, the acting U.S. attorney for Washington, said federal prosecutors will work to build “seditious and conspiracy charges” against some of those involved in the Capitol siege.
“Yesterday, our office organized a strike force of very senior national security prosecutors and public corruption prosecutors. Their only marching orders from me are to build seditious and conspiracy charges related to the most heinous acts that occurred in the Capitol,” Sherwin said. “And these are significant charges that have felonies with a prison term of up to 20 years.”
Sherwin said he expects the number of cases to grow into the hundreds in the next coming weeks.
“The gamut of cases and criminal conduct we’re looking at is really mind-blowing,” he said. “And that has really put an enormous amount of work on the plate of the FBI and field offices throughout the entire United States.”
Steven M. D’Antuono, the FBI Washington Field Office assistant director in charge, said that, in the past week, the agency has opened over 170 case files, which he called “just the tip of the iceberg.”
“The brutality the American people watched with shock and disbelief on the 6th will not be tolerated by the FBI,” he said. “The men and women of the FBI will leave no stone unturned in this investigation.”
The FBI has put out a call for tips to help identify the Capitol intruders.
In his video address, Rosen warned that anyone seeking to disrupt the Jan. 20 inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden would face a swift response.
“I want to send a clear message to anyone contemplating violence, threats of violence, or other criminal conduct: We will have no tolerance whatsoever for any attempts to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power on Jan. 20 that our Constitution calls for,” Rosen said. “We will have no tolerance for any attempts to forcefully occupy government buildings. There will be no excuse for violence, vandalism, or any other form of lawlessness.”
“Everyone should understand one key thing—the Department of Justice will seek to hold any violators accountable to the fullest extent of the law. Any wrongdoers will be caught, and they will be accountable,” he added.
Janita Kan contributed to this report.