Justice Dept. Seeks Plea Deals In Capitol Riot Cases

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In a court filing in March, the government said the attacks on the Capitol were “one of the most complex investigations ever pursued by the Justice Department,” and prosecutors called the case “unprecedented in its scope.” Members of the Affidavit Guards pleaded guilty to two counts, making them the first defendants to plead guilty in the historic pre-trial trial hearing on January 6. While the defendants, who are charged only with misdemeanors, are not in prison, U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., said prosecutors understand the need to resolve more minor cases. Sources: 0

The Justice Department said it is in talks with defendant Jon Schaffer, who is making the first potential plea in the case. The reckoning, lawyers say, will come as prosecutors deal a slap on the wrist to many participants in the unrest in an attempt to portray the crimes as an insurgency that poses a serious threat to American democracy. Sources: 0, 1

Schaffer, a Trump supporter, is accused of storming the Capitol and spraying police officers with bear spray. In an affidavit in the case, the FBI alleges Schaffer was among the rioters who attacked Capitol Police with the bear spray, according to court documents. Ice faces charges of conspiracy to commit physical violence against a Capitol building, including two counts of assault with a deadly weapon and one count of unauthorized use of a weapon. Sources: 1, 5

In a deal with prosecutors in federal court in Washington, one of the co-defendants, 23-year-old Michael J. Miller, pleaded guilty to entering and staying in a locked building with a dangerous and deadly weapon. In the deal, he pleaded guilty to one count of entering buildings with dangerous or deadly weapons and two counts of unauthorized use of a weapon to stay in buildings with limited facilities, according to the Justice Department. Sources: 2

Prosecutors said Schaffer, of Columbus, Ind., wore a tactical vest and baseball cap that read “Oath Keepers Lifetime Member” on January 6 and admitted in a plea deal that he was a lifelong founding member of the extremist group, prosecutors said. The Justice Department has filed a series of pleas in the conspiracy case, which now includes 12 defendants, including Miller, Miller’s co-defendant and two other men, 23-year-old Michael J. Miller and 24-year-olds Michael D. Schaffner and Michael C. O’Brien. A Proud Boys leader charged in an attack on the U.S. Capitol has been recruited by the FBI as an informant and anti-fascist activist, according to court documents. Sources: 4, 5

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The New York Times had previously reported that at least six people who were guarding Stone while he was in D.C. for the Stop the Steal rally that preceded the attack were part of the mob that stormed the Capitol. WASHINGTON – Prosecutors made serious charges in court Tuesday, saying they have evidence that rioters planned to kill elected officials, suggesting that a Virginia man was given a directive to gassing deputies outside the building and accusing suspects of directing the chaos through encrypted messages on January 6. In court documents filed in the trial of a gang member accused of involvement in the riots, the federal prosecutor’s office said the group members discussed stockpiling weapons, ammunition and other supplies in case violence was used against the rioters on January 6. Sources: 3, 4

The Justice Department acknowledged after the court hearing that its evidence on the riots that were carried out to overturn the US Supreme Court’s ruling in President Barack Obama’s favor is far more extensive than it had initially indicated. The department suffered a blow last week when Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. threatened to gag prosecutors after telling CBS ‘”60 Minutes” show that evidence pointed to incitement charges against some defendants. A review of more than 230 D.C. riot cases shows that nearly a quarter of them have been formally and publicly charged so far, but the defendants face only misdemeanors. Sources: 0, 3

In a court filing in March, the government said that while most of the cases filed so far are against individuals, prosecutors are investigating conspiratorial activities that occurred before, during and after the attacks. A defense attorney handling the Capitol cases also said the defendants, many of whom are referred to in the court system as “MAGA tourists,” will almost certainly escape prison. Sources: 0

At a recent hearing at the Capitol, federal Judge Royce Lamberth urged the defendants and their attorneys to be patient with the deals. Only one defendant agreed to cooperate and make a deal – a heavy metal guitarist who was also a founding member of the Oath Keepers. The defendants in the Capitol riots scored a significant victory when a federal appeals court said judges must weed out the most serious and violent offenders from those who simply descended into chaos. Sources: 0, 6

But the deals are significant and potentially unique, said other defense attorneys involved in the riots, as Schaffer may have behaved.

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