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More than 500 individuals have been arrested and charged with crimes related to the January 6th riot at the United States Capitol, but none have yet been charged with “treason” or “sedition,” despite leftists’ claims that the Capitol riots were an armed “insurrection” against the United States government.
The Associated Press noted Tuesday that, so far, Capitol riot defendants have been given an “increasing number of lesser charges,” perhaps designed to elicit guilty pleas or plea deals from the dozens of defendants awaiting trial.
“Accusations against Jan. 6 rioter Thomas Caldwell certainly seem to fit the charge of sedition as it’s generally understood — inciting revolt against the government. And the possibility of charging him and others was widely discussed after thousands of pro-Trump supporters assaulted scores of police officers, defaced the U.S. Capitol, and hunted for lawmakers to stop the certification. Some called their actions treasonous,” the AP said.
“But to date,” the outlet continued, “neither Caldwell nor any of the other more than 500 defendants accused in the attack has been indicted for sedition or for the gravest of crimes a citizen can face, treason. And as an increasing number of lesser charges are filed and defendants plead guilty, those accusations may never be formally levied.”
The AP added that sedition charges are “rare,” and that where they have been leveled, cases became complex. The last time the United States government accused individuals of sedition was in 2010, but a judge “ordered acquittals” on those charges in 2012 because prosecutors’ evidence — manifestos and “diatribes” about the government — were First Amendment protected speech.
The outlet also noted that, over the course of U.S. history, fewer than 10 people have been convicted of treason.
Alleged participants in the January 6th riots may also, indirectly, have President Joe Biden to thank for the lower-level charges. The Trump administration leveled charges of “assaulting federal officers, civil disorder, and failing to obey” against rioters who took to the streets of Portland, Oregon, last summer. The Biden administration has disposed of most of those cases; nearly half of those charges were dropped, per The Wall Street Journal, likely providing a standard for prosecutors.
Around 560 people have been arrested in connection with the riots, but high-level charges are rare — rarer even than The Associated Press seems to acknowledge. In late June, Attorney General Merrick Garland held a press conference to announced that one alleged rioter, an Illinois man, had been charged with assaulting a member of the press, according to The Washington Post. Otherwise, many of the alleged rioters have been charged with entering a restricted building, criminal trespass, and, in some cases, obstructing justice.
According to a searchable database compiled by Business Insider, the most common charge include, “entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds,” “disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds,” “engaging in physical violence in a restricted building or grounds,” “disorderly conduct in a Capitol building,” and “assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers.”
So far, only 13 of those charged rioters have entered guilty pleas.