The nation’s military leadership on Tuesday denounced last week’s storming of the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob as a plot to overthrow the government, while federal prosecutors said they were examining more than 160 cases and weighing sedition charges in some of them.
In a further sign of a tougher posture, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy has decided to allow National Guard members being sent to Washington through next week’s presidential inauguration to carry weapons, a U.S. defense official said late Tuesday.
The statement earlier in the day from the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the heads of the branches of the U.S. military called the Jan. 6 assault, in which a violent, pro-Trump mob forcibly entered the Capitol where lawmakers were certifying Mr. Biden’s presidential victory, “a direct assault on the U.S. Congress, the Capitol building, and our constitutional process.”
Michael Sherwin, the acting U.S. attorney in Washington, said his office had established a team of senior national-security and public-corruption prosecutors to examine the most serious cases, including the use of explosives and attacks on police officers.
“Their only marching orders from me are to build sedition and conspiracy charges related to the most heinous acts that occurred in the Capitol,” he said at a news conference Tuesday. “We’re looking at and treating this just like a significant international counterterrorism or counterintelligence operation.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has opened more than 160 case files to date, said Steven D’Antuono, the assistant director in charge of the agency’s Washington field office. The bureau has received more than 100,000 videos and other forms of digital media related to the attacks that it is combing through for investigative leads.
“Even if you left D.C., agents from our local field offices will be knocking on your door if we find out that you were part of the criminal activity at the Capitol.”