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'Sedition Hunters' Helping DOJ Turn Up January 6 Suspects

For a year, federal agents in most states have been checking stacks of tipster reports, interviews with witnesses, social media posts and private messages obtained by warrants. They have collected nearly 14,000 hours of video, enough raw footage that it would take a year and a half of around-the-clock viewing to get through it, reports the New York Times. While the Justice Department has called the inquiry one of the largest in its history, it is getting help. Working with information from online sleuths calling themselves “Sedition Hunters,” the authorities have made more than 700 arrests. The government estimates that as many as 2,500 people who took part in the events of Jan. 6 could be charged with federal crimes. That includes more than 1,000 incidents that prosecutors believe could be assaults.

More than 225 people have been accused of attacking or interfering with the police. About 275 have been charged with obstructing Congress’s duty to certify the 2020 presidential vote count. A little over 300 people have been charged with petty crimes alone, mostly trespassing and disorderly conduct. Will the Justice Department move beyond charging the rioters themselves? DOJ has provided no public indication of the degree to which it might be pursuing a case against former President Trump and his allies who helped inspire the chaos with their baseless claims of election fraud. The House committee on Jan. 6 is interviewing witnesses and has issued subpoenas to high-profile figures allied with Trump. Committee members have said they would consider making criminal referrals if their investigation turns up evidence to support a prosecution against Trump or others. Overworked courts have tried to balance the exchange of discovery materials with speedy trial protections and to manage the bleak conditions at Washington, D.C’s local jails, where some defendants are being held without bail. They have faced a fundamental challenge: how to mete out justice on an individual level to defendants who together helped form a violent mob. More than 160 people, about 20 percent of those who have been charged, have pleaded guilty. Not quite half have been sentenced.


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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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