Attorney General Merrick Garland said Wednesday that the Justice Department isn’t done bringing charges against people involved in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot that disrupted congressional certification of the 2020 election, vowing “the actions we have taken thus far will not be our last.”
In a rare public address on the eve of the first anniversary of the violence, Garland said that “more than 725” people have been arrested and charged with crimes and added that the feds are looking for other culprits.
“Those involved must be held accountable. There is no higher priority for us at the Department of Justice,” said the attorney general, who went on to say pointedly that he “remains committed to holding all January 6th perpetrators at any level accountable under law, whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy.”
Garland said that 145 people have pleaded guilty to misdemeanors in connection to that day’s events, while 20 rioters had copped to felonies. Dozens of people who illegally entered the Capitol received probation, according to Justice Department data, but others accused of violence have received lengthy prison sentences after pleading guilty.
“To ensure that all those criminally responsible are held accountable, we must collect the evidence. We follow the physical evidence, we follow the digital evidence, we follow the money, but most important, we follow the facts,” he said.
Florida man Robert Palmer, 54, received a 5 1/4-year prison sentence last month after admitting that he attacked police officers with a fire extinguisher and wooden plank.
Some suspects not accused of committing violence also received prison time.
Paul Allard Hodgkins, 38, was sentenced to eight months in prison in July after he admitted to spending about 15 minutes on the Senate floor while brandishing a campaign flag supporting then-President Donald Trump.
The pace of the trials is expected to pick up in 2022. Brooklyn resident Aaron Mostofsky, who gave an interview to The Post outside of the Senate chamber during the riot, is scheduled to go on trial Jan. 24 on charges including illegally entering the Capitol and stealing government property.
Mostofsky, whose father is prominent Brooklyn Supreme Court judge Shlomo Mostofsky, breached the building dressed in fur pelts and spoke with The Post while wearing a US Capitol Police bulletproof vest and holding a riot shield that he claimed he found.
Garland said Wednesday that people who directly disrupted the vote-counting are being treated more harshly — appearing to explain the heavy hand for people who entered the Senate chamber as opposed to those who remained in other parts of the building.
“Those who assaulted officers or damaged the Capitol face greater charges. Those who conspired with others to obstruct the vote count also face greater charges,” Garland said. “Those who did not undertake such conduct have been charged with lesser offenses, particularly if they accepted the responsibility early and cooperated with the investigation.”
Before the riot, Trump told thousands of supporters near the White House that the election was “stolen” and urged them to march to Capitol Hill to support objections lodged by Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) against the certification of electors from key swing states.
The mob subsequently stormed the Capitol — sending lawmakers and Vice President Mike Pence fleeing to safety.
According to a Reuters report, the FBI has found no evidence that the riot was an organized coup attempt, while an analysis of video by the Wall Street Journal found that members of the far-right Proud Boys group were key players in initiating clashes with police — including helping collapse an outer perimeter while Trump was still speaking.
Amid the chaos, Trump supporter Ashli Babbitt was fatally shot by a Capitol Police officer while attempting to climb through a busted-out window into the House Speaker’s Lobby.
House Democrats joined by 10 Republicans impeached Trump last January for allegedly inciting the riot. Trump was acquitted by the Senate in a 57-43 vote, with seven Republicans finding him guilty — short of the two-thirds threshold required by the Constitution.
On Tuesday, progressive Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) accused Garland of leading an “extremely weak” response to the events of Jan. 6 and insisted in a CNN interview that “there should be a lot more of the organizers of January 6 that should be arrested by now.”
Apparently responding to similar criticisms by Gallego and others, Garland said the DOJ investigation would last “as long as it takes and [do] whatever it takes for justice to be done consistent with the facts and the law.
“I understand that this may not be the answer some are looking for,” the attorney general went on, “but we will and must speak to our work. Anything else jeopardizes the viability of our investigations and the civil liberties of our citizens.”