Federal law enforcement officials are privately debating whether they should decline to charge some of the individuals who stormed the U.S. Capitol this month — a politically loaded proposition but one alert to the practical concern that hundreds of such cases could swamp the local courthouse.
The internal discussions are in their early stages, and no decisions have been reached about whether to forgo charging some of those who illegally entered the Capitol on Jan. 6, according to multiple people familiar with the discussions.
Justice Department officials have promised a relentless effort to identify and arrest those who stormed the Capitol that day, but internally there is robust back-and-forth about whether charging them all is the best course of action. That debate comes at a time when officials are keenly sensitive that the credibility of the Justice Department and the FBI are at stake in such decisions, given the apparent security and intelligence failures that preceded the riot, these people said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss legal deliberations.
As Heather said, “Eff me gently with a chainsaw” —people were killed during the insurrection. There’s a moral and legal obligation here.
The insurrectionists argue that they were just caught up in the moment and therefore don’t deserve to be punished. They were urging at least one insurrectionist to seal the tunnel where the lawmakers were gathered and to turn-on the gas.