US Attorney General Merrick Garland urges patience with the justice process as the country pursues the largest investigation in its history, involving more than 725 people being charged so far, in the middle of a pandemic.
The US Justice Department intends to pursue perpetrators of the January 6, 2021 assault on the Capitol whatever their status, Attorney General Merrick Garland, who is under pressure to charge former president Donald Trump, has said.
"The Justice Department remains committed to holding all January 6th perpetrators, at any level, accountable under law –– whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy," Garland said on Wednesday, one day before the anniversary of the insurrection.
"We will follow the facts wherever they lead," he said.
In a speech at the Justice Department, Garland made no specific mention of Trump nor did he indicate if the former president is being investigated.
Trump is already under investigation by a Congressional committee looking to see if he encouraged or even coordinated the violence by his followers, which shut down the US Congress and left five dead.
But Garland urged patience with the justice process as the department pursues the largest investigation in its history, involving more than 725 people being charged so far, in the middle of a pandemic.
And he alluded to the unprecedented political challenge of the government of a Democratic president, Joe Biden, investigating his Republican predecessor Trump.
"The central norm is that, in our criminal investigations, there cannot be different rules depending on one’s political party or affiliation. There cannot be different rules for friends and foes," Garland said.
"And there cannot be different rules for the powerful and the powerless."
Garland rejected the basis for the attack, Trump's baseless claim that Biden defeated him in the November 2020 election due to massive voter fraud.
"Those claims, which have corroded people’s faith in the legitimacy of our elections, have been repeatedly refuted by the law enforcement and intelligence agencies of both the last administration and this one, as well as by every court –– federal and state –– that has considered them."
He said that the election fraud claims have unleashed a barrage of violence and violent threats against officials, lawmakers and others that are "deeply dangerous for our democracy."