For the most part, those who entered the Capitol illegally on January 6th, 2021 and were subsequently caught have face a number of different charges for their actions. These have ranged from trespassing to breaking and entering and assorted assaults charges for those caught physically engaging with law enforcement on that day.
But up until now, there haven’t been any charges pressed that would denote a whole lot of premeditation on the part of the participants.
That is about to change, and in a major way.
The Justice Department escalated its January 6 investigation by bringing seditious conspiracy charges against 11 defendants, including the leader of the Oath Keepers, Stewart Rhodes.
The latest accusations — with a charge that had not previously been brought in the department’s US Capitol attack prosecutions — remove any sense that prosecutors believe the riot emerged from just a group of overzealous protestors, with new details about the planning and logistics alleged to have predated the Capitol breach.
The Justice Department until now had been careful not to push the idea of sedition, instead charging defendants affiliated with right-wing groups with conspiracy to obstruct the congressional proceeding on January 6. The seditious conspiracy charge carries the same possible consequence as an obstruction charge, but is rarely used, politically loaded and has been difficult for the Justice Department to use successfully against defendants in the past.
The change of tactics will almost certainly provide the Democrats with plenty to talk about as the 2022 midterms approach, particularly as they’ve been considered likely to take a bit of a pummeling in that contest.
Biden’s DOJ just gave them a second chance at winning over the court of public opinion.