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US Capitol 50th rioter pleads guilty as Justice Department nears 600th arrest in massive criminal investigation


By Marshall Cohen, Hannah Rabinowitz and Olanma Mang, CNN

The Justice Department secured its 50th guilty plea in the Jan.6 uprising on Wednesday, a key milestone as it nears its 600th arrest in the massive probe.

In the eight months since the attack on the United States Capitol, the investigation turned into a nationwide manhunt for Trump supporters and right-wing extremists who took stormed the building and grounds, assaulted dozens of police officers and temporarily halted President Joe Biden’s certification. victory.

Nearly 600 people from 44 states and Washington, DC, have been indicted in federal court, according to CNN’s latest tally, with authorities announcing new arrests almost daily.

The 50th guilty plea was finalized in DC District Court on Wednesday when Abram Markofski pleaded a misdemeanor. He admitted to traveling from Wisconsin to DC, attending then-President Donald Trump’s rally, and then illegally violating the Capitol building.

Prosecutors are struggling to resolve many lower-level cases, and most of the 50 guilty pleas involve non-violent rioters. Meanwhile, cases are advancing against defendants who allegedly attacked police or are members of far-right groups, such as the Proud Boys.

Some of the federal judges overseeing the recent guilty pleas have wondered aloud why the rioters aren’t being forced to pay more in restitution to repair $ 1.5 million in damage to the Capitol, and wondered if the rioters were showing enough remorse for undermining American democracy.

Of the 50 people who have pleaded guilty, only six have been convicted to date. One of these rioters was sentenced to jail, two others were sentenced to a time already served because they were in jail while their case was progressing. More convictions are slated for this fall, but hundreds of other cases of the Capitol riots are still in the early stages of court proceedings.

Hundreds of rioters are charged with crimes and new cases have emerged almost every day in the eight months since January 6. and still has not identified the person filmed leaving two homemade bombs on Capitol Hill.

Prosecutors have expanded conspiracy cases against far-right groups they say coordinated and plan to disrupt Congressional certification of Biden’s victory on Jan.6. The Justice Department has made cooperation deals with some of the alleged conspirators, and prosecutors are now starting to use this information to paint a clearer picture of how these groups planned to travel across the country – some with weapons – to participate in the event.

Prosecutors called the investigation “one of the largest in American history.” And there are more than 15,000 hours of footage from the siege, including surveillance tapes and cameras worn on the body of the police. So far, the Justice Department has said it has made around 2,300 hours of recordings available to defendants – the equivalent of watching a video for almost 100 days straight.

Sorting through this mountain of evidence and attributing the relevant elements to each case is a mammoth task that has resulted in delays in some cases. It has become a frustrating setback for some of the few dozen defense attorneys with clients who have been ordered to remain in jail before trial.

Truth versus lie

The large number of guilty pleas and charges comes as the House special committee steps up efforts to investigate on January 6. The Democrat-led committee was formed after Senate Republicans blocked the formation of an independent, bipartisan commission.

Hoping to examine communications between lawmakers and those involved in the many precursor gatherings of the insurgency, the House committee called for a group of social media and telecommunications companies to preserve the phone records of some members of the GOP in Congress, Trump and members of his family.

It is not known how this will affect the cases of the Capitol rioters. The FBI is also evaluating some communications between members of Congress and rioters, but an informed U.S. official told CNN in March that those communications would not necessarily indicate wrongdoing and that investigators are not yet targeting lawmakers. .

Meanwhile, some Republican officials and media figures called the insurgents “tourists,” claimed rioters had been trapped, and continued to push the same election lies that drove some of the rioters to Capitol Hill in January. A political rally in support of the defendants still in prison, whom supporters call “political prisoners”, is scheduled in Washington on September 18.

Pushing the same false account that they are the victims of this incident, some rioters have raised more than $ 2 million on the internet to pay for legal fees, according to a CNN analysis.

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