The US Justice Department announced Friday that it has indicted 15 people involved in the assault on Congress, including one man accused of possessing bombs made to act like “homemade napalm.”
The department said it had arrested several suspects, including Richard Barnett, a supporter of US President Donald Trump who invaded the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and another man found with 11 styrofoam-enhanced Molotov cocktails in his truck.
Others whose charges were unsealed include a man alleged to have entered the US Capitol with a loaded handgun, another who is accused of punching an officer, and a West Virginia state legislator who took part in storming the Congress, said Ken Cole, a federal prosecutor with the Washington US attorney’s office.
Cole said that not all the charges over Wednesday’s violence had been unsealed and that more were in the pipeline as the FBI investigates.
“This investigation has the highest priority,” he said, with “hundreds” of Justice Department investigators working the case.
More charges and arrests were expected.
Dozens of people have already been arrested and charged by local Washington police, but the charges announced by Cole Friday were on the federal level, and potentially carry heftier punishment.
But he said the FBI was not investigating anyone on possible “incitement” or “insurrection” charges.
Some people have called for Trump, his attorney Rudy Giuliani and others to be charged with incitement for openly encouraging the president’s supporters to take action just hours before the mob stormed the Capitol.
However, on Thursday, the top federal prosecutor for the District of Columbia, acting US Attorney Michael Sherwin indicated that Trump could face charges of inciting the riot.
“We are looking at all actors here, not only the people that went into the building, but . . . were there others that maybe assisted or facilitated or played some ancillary role in this. We will look at every actor and all criminal charges,” he said, according to the Washington Post.
Asked if that included Trump, he replied: “We are looking at all actors here, and anyone that had a role, if the evidence fits the element of a crime, they’re going to be charged.”
Sherwin also said investigators were trying to determine if national security had been compromised with the theft of documents and computers from the ransacked lawmakers’ offices.
He said an investigation could take “several days to flesh out exactly what happened, what was stolen, what wasn’t.”
Trump’s top White House lawyer has repeatedly warned the president that he could be held responsible for inciting Wednesday’s riot at the Capitol, officials said.
The admonitions from presidential counsel Pat Cipollone were delivered in part to prompt Trump to condemn the violence that was carried out in his name and acknowledge that he will leave office in less than two weeks, according to White House aides. They were not authorized to publicly discuss private conversations and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Trump urged the crowd to march on the Capitol, even promising to go with them, though he didn’t in the end. He said “you’ll never take our country back with weakness.” Trump’s words followed a speech by his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, in which the former New York City mayor said, “Let’s have trial by combat.”
Many in the crowd then set out for the Capitol, where a mob broke through police barriers, smashed windows and paraded through the halls, sending lawmakers into hiding.
Homicide charges for killing officer
A police officer died from injuries suffered during the siege, and a rioter was shot to death by Capitol Police. Three other people died after “medical emergencies” related to the breach.
The US Capitol Police said in a statement that Officer Brian D. Sicknick was injured “while physically engaging with protesters” during the Wednesday riot. He is the fifth person to die because of the Capitol protest and violence.
During the struggle at the Capitol, Sicknick, 42, was hit in the head with a fire extinguisher, two law enforcement officials said. The officials could not discuss the ongoing investigation publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Reports said Federal prosecutors had opened a homicide investigation into his death.
Among those facing charges is West Virginia state lawmaker Derrick Evans accused of entering a restricted area of the US Capitol after he livestreamed himself rushing into the building with a mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters.
His lawyer, John Bryan, said he hadn’t seen the complaint against Evans and couldn’t comment. He did not say if Evans had been taken into custody, but television station WSAZ posted a video on Twitter showing FBI agents escorting the handcuffed lawmaker from a home.
#BREAKING WV Delegate Derrick Evans has been taken into federal custody.
He’s charged after allegedly entering a restricted area of the US Capitol with rioters Wednesday.
— Chad Hedrick (@WSAZChadHedrick) January 8, 2021
“He’s a fine man. And thank you, Mr. Trump, for inviting a riot at the White House,” a woman identifying herself as Evans’ grandmother told station reporters as her grandson was being taken into custody.
Legislators from at least seven other states traveled to Washington, D.C., to back Trump and demonstrate against the counting of electoral votes confirming Democrat Joe Biden’s victory. It’s unknown if any other elected official joined the attack on the Capitol.
A growing number of Republicans and Democrats said they want to expel Evans from the legislature if he does not resign. Bryan said late Thursday that the delegate did not commit a crime and doesn’t plan to resign.
No one in the office of West Virginia Republican House leader Roger Hanshaw responded to an email requesting comment.
In his now-deleted video, widely shared online, Evans is clamoring inside a jampacked Capitol building doorway, trying with others to push his way inside. He hollers along with other Trump loyalists and fist-bumps a law enforcement officer who let them in.
Evans’ lawyer has said he was acting as an amateur journalist recording the day’s events and that he was not involved in violence.
After pushing into the building, video shows Evans milling around the Capitol Rotunda, where historic paintings depict the republic’s founding, and imploring others to not vandalize artwork and busts. Some of the pieces were later vandalized.
“Our house!” Evans yells inside Capitol halls. “I don’t know where we’re going. I’m following the crowd.”