Federal prosecutors have been faced with an unprecedented task following the Jan. 6, 2021, riot on the Capitol in investigating hundreds of Americans across the country accused of storming the building and physically attacking law enforcement in an attempt to bring Congress to a standstill.
Since then, more than 950 people have been arrested from nearly all 50 states, with prosecutors levying charges ranging from disorderly conduct to the rare count of seditious conspiracy.
Law enforcement pursued both those who traveled to the Capitol individually and those part of right-wing groups like the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys. Nearly 500 defendants have entered guilty pleas.
Attorney General Merrick Garland touted the Justice Department’s investigation earlier this week, but he asserted that prosecutors’ work is “far from over.”
“Perpetrators attacked police officers, targeted and assaulted members of the media, and interfered with a fundamental element of our democracy: the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to the next,” Garland said in a statement.
“Since then, countless agents, investigators, prosecutors, analysts, and others across the Justice Department have participated in one of the largest, most complex, and most resource-intensive investigations in our history,” he added.
Two years after the attack on the Capitol, here’s where those investigations stand.
Who has been arrested?
Authorities began arrests in connection with Jan. 6 immediately following the riot, and the number has steadily grown to more than 950 defendants, according to the Justice Department’s latest figures. Fourteen new arrests were made last month alone.
Defendants reside in every state except Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Vermont as of November, according to George Washington University’s Program on Extremism, which has been tracking the cases.
Florida boasts more Jan. 6 defendants than any other state, followed by other large states like Texas, Pennsylvania, New York and California, the analysis found.
But areas geographically close to the Capitol largely took the top spots when adjusted based on population. Washington, D.C., topped that ranking, followed by Pennsylvania, Montana, West Virginia and Delaware.
Prosecutors have filed public charges against individuals between the ages of 18 and 80, and the defendants’ mean age clocked in at 40.4 years old, the program found. The list even includes a family who entered the Capitol together.
Nearly 800 defendants are men while just over 100 are women, according to the analysis.
What are they charged with?
Most Jan. 6 defendants — roughly 860 of them — are charged with entering or remaining in a restricted federal building or grounds, according to the Justice Department.
Beyond that, prosecutors have pursued a host of different misdemeanors and felonies that largely relate to firearms, violence and property destruction. Roughly 484 individuals have pleaded guilty.
“We have secured convictions for a wide range of criminal conduct on January 6 as well as in the days and weeks leading up to the attack,” Garland said. “Our work is far from over.”
In one of the most high-profile Jan. 6 cases, prosecutors succeeded in pursuing a seldom-used seditious conspiracy charge against Stewart Rhodes and Kelly Meggs, leaders of the far-right Oath Keepers group.
Their convictions marked the first time in nearly three decades that an American on trial was found guilty of seditious conspiracy, a charge originally envisioned after the Civil War to prosecute ex-Confederates.
Prosecutors have also taken aim at rioters who fought with police officers, with more than 284 defendants charged with assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers or employees. Ninety-nine of them were also charged with using a deadly or dangerous weapon or causing serious bodily injury to an officer.
The Justice Department indicates rioters assaulted a total of 140 police officers from various agencies during the attack, and court documents allege defendants threw objects at officers, engaged in hand-to-hand combat and used officers’ own weapons against them.
Officers like Michael Fanone gained national attention after testifying publicly before the House Jan. 6 committee last summer.
A judge sentenced multiple rioters to jail time after they pled guilty to assaulting Fanone, who was tased by one of the rioters and suffered a heart attack. He sat in the courtroom to watch some of the proceedings.
“We cannot afford to brush political violence under the rug or turn a blind eye when others encourage it,” Fanone, who has been critical of the GOP’s response to Jan. 6, said at a Thursday rally outside the Capitol.
Eleven individuals were charged on counts that relate to alleged assaults against members of the media or destruction of their equipment.
What comes next?
Garland invoked the memories of police officers who died in connection with Jan. 6 in his statement marking the anniversary, vowing that more arrests are to come.
The department has asked the public to help it identify roughly 350 additional individuals believed to have committed violence at the Capitol.
“The Justice Department remains committed to honoring them,” Garland said of the officers. “We remain committed to ensuring accountability for those criminally responsible for the January 6 assault on our democracy. And we remain committed to doing everything in our power to prevent this from ever happening again.”
Court proceedings also continue for hundreds of other defendants. Jury selection is underway this week for the seditious conspiracy trial of five leaders of the Proud Boys, a right-wing group.
But the Justice Department’s most anticipated prosecutorial decision comes down to a single potential defendant: former President Trump.
The department itself is investigating Trump for his alleged sprawling attempts to overturn the 2020 election results, but the path to charging the former president and now 2024 candidate is complex.
Trump’s supporters led the charge to the Capitol that day, following a fiery speech by Trump at the Ellipse, in an attempt to stop Congress’s official count of the Electoral College votes that affirmed Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential election win.
Pressure has only grown after the House Jan. 6 committee issued four criminal referrals for Trump to the department, arguing enough evidence existed to charge him with inciting an insurrection, obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiracy to defraud the United States and conspiracy to make a false statement.
One of the panel’s final acts essentially accused Trump of betraying the country.