DOJ Prosecutors Seeking Those Who Assaulted Media During Capitol Attack

Acting U.S. Attorney for Washington D.C. Michael Sherwin speaking Tuesday. | Screenshot courtesy of the Department of Justice on YouTube

FBI warns ‘armed protests’ are in the planning stages

By Terry Miller

The world watched on in alarm as an attempted coup on Jan. 6 by supporters of President Donald Trump, QAnon conspiracy theorists, Proud Boys and countless right-wing fringe groups, invaded the Capitol ahead of Congress certifying the electoral win of President-elect Joe Biden — an election which they believe, unequivocally, was “stolen.” The resulting chaos shocked the world. It was replete with vitriol, violence, vulgarity and looting, that caused the death of five people, including one Capitol Police officer, from injuries or medical emergencies experienced during the riot. (A second Capitol Police officer died by suicide on Saturday after the unrest.)

In addition to members of Congress, those in the media were targeted and attacked by many in the mob.

On a door in the Capitol, a Trump supporter scrawled “Murder the media,” in all capital letters. Meanwhile, other militants destroyed expensive audio-visual equipment belonging to the Associated Press, chanted verbal and physical expletives while assaulting reporters from CNN, The New York Times and other outlets trying to cover the siege.

Erin Schaff, a photographer for The New York Times described how she thought she might die inside the Capitol after a small group of men confronted her and demanded to know who she worked for.

“Grabbing my press pass, they saw that my ID said The New York Times and became really angry,” Schaff wrote on Thursday. “They threw me to the floor, trying to take my cameras. I started screaming for help as loudly as I could. No one came. People just watched. At this point, I thought I could be killed and no one would stop them. They ripped one of my cameras away from me, broke a lens on the other and ran away.

After the attack, Schaff hid her camera to avoid being targeted and made her way to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s balcony. “This will be the start of a civil war revolution,” Schaff said one of the rioters there told her.

A CNN crew, accompanied by security, was forced to retreat after threats of violence emitted from the mouths of volatile rioters. Video of that incident is extremely disturbing — as are the thousands of clips people have provided to news agencies and posted on social media around the world.

“While some of the people who breached the Capitol appeared awed to have made it into the marbled halls of power, many others seemed to be fueled by intense anger as they rampaged through the building,” the Huffington Post wrote.

Jan. 6 was indeed a flash point in American history but the attacks on the press were a culmination of years of attack from the White House. has called the media the “enemy of the people.”      

“With all of its phony unnamed sources & highly slanted & even fraudulent reporting, #Fake News is DISTORTING DEMOCRACY in our country!” the president once again attacked the media on Twitter in July 2017.

There are numerous examples of such attacks on the press but the president, banned from most of the major social media platforms, has remained relatively quiet since.

Despite relative silence from the White House, on Tuesday the Department of Justice delivered updates on its investigation into the attack on the U.S. Capitol. The F.B.I. has so far opened more than 160 case files related to Jan. 6 and according to Michael Sherwin, the acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, the Justice Department has assigned a separate task force of prosecutors to investigate cases in which members of the media were attacked.

“Some of those rioters specifically targeted members of the media and assaulted them,” he said.

So far, 70 people are already facing criminal charges. “I expect that number to grow into the hundreds,” Sherwin said. “Just the gamut of cases we’re looking at is mind-blowing.”

Sherwin said the Justice Department is “looking at significant felony cases tied to sedition and conspiracy.”

According to has issued an alert warning about planned armed protests at state capitols and the U.S. capitol through Inauguration Day.

“The FBI has also received information in recent days on a group calling for ‘storming’ state, local and federal government courthouses and administrative buildings in the event President Donald Trump is removed from office prior to Inauguration Day,” ABC News reports.

The F.B.I. is currently seeking these individuals who “actively instigated violence” on Jan. 6, the F.B.I. wrote on Twitter. | Image courtesy of the F.B.I.

Ahead of possible further violence, NPR reported that “security was heightened Wednesday all around the Capitol, with barricades set several blocks from the Capitol building and law enforcement and national guard officials checking badges for anyone to enter the perimeter even by foot.”

National Guard personnel were photographed sleeping in the Congressional Visitors Center Wednesday morning after being station overnight.

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