The Insurrection is Far from Over

Thinking behind the tweets

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FBI Director Christopher Wray is sworn in at the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 2, 2021, to testify about the January 6 attack. (Photo by Mandel Ngan-Pool/Getty Images)

It’s not over. Not by a long shot. When Merrick Garland testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee as Attorney General nominee, he called the events of January 6 “the most heinous attack on the democratic process that I’ve ever seen and one that I never expected to see in my lifetime.” He pledged to give career prosecutors all the resources they “could possibly require” and follow the leads “wherever they take us.” I remain optimistic that AG Garland will stick to his promise and is doing the job that he outlined.

To date, more than 410 people have been arrested and charged with crimes related to the deadly attack on the US Capitol. The task of identifying and apprehending those involved in the attack is not over, with at least another 100 expected to be charged. But for all of us yearning for justice, it’s frustrating to see that almost exactly four months since that deadly day of insurrection, not one elected official has been charged or otherwise held accountable for their role.

We should not underestimate the level of complexity in investigating and prosecuting the insurrection, criminally and politically. You may remember Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley’s particular interest in ascertaining from FBI director Christopher Wray whether the bureau “has scooped up geolocation data, metadata cellphone records from cellphone towers.” Wray did not offer a definitive reply, but he did say this: “Because this is such a sprawling investigation, that would not surprise me." 

To the extent that the FBI and the DOJ are building their cases against some of the 147 lawmakers involved in inciting or assisting the attack, we can assume they will choose carefully the moment when they go public with their charges. As we know painfully well, this is not just a criminal decision, but also a political one given the fraught climate.

But that’s just the thing: The longer this takes, the more both those directly involved and those who support the insurrection from afar will cling tighter to the Big Lie and resist the presumption that the leaders should be held accountable. As I previously noted in “The Urgency of Justice Now,” we are already faced with over half of Republicans who believe January 6 was largely non-violent and was manipulated by left-wing agitators to “make Trump look bad.” The slow reveal only adds more time for the deadly cancer to spread and for the most violently extreme among us to keep scheming.

Which leads us to the sad saga now underway as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is bent on the removal of Wyoming’s Rep. Liz Cheney for telling the truth and making the repetition of the Big Lie of election fraud a GOP litmus test. As Cheney’s spokesman noted, “This is about whether the Republican Party is going to perpetuate lies about the 2020 election and attempt to whitewash what happened on Jan. 6.”

We have blasted well past the days when we worried about domestic terrorism and assumed that Congressional leaders would do what they could to tamp down violence. Now they are showing their readiness to “stand back and stand by” as they continue to kowtow to Donald Trump, whose latest ploy is to claim the real “Big Lie” is “the Fraudulent Presidential Election of 2020.”

I conclude with the sober take of former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner, with whom, suffice to say, I agree:

The wheels of justice may grind slowly, and we hope finely, but the day when justice must be served is fast approaching—or we risk new violent crimes added to the prosecutors’ agenda and further damage to our democracy.


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