Why Are Authorities Undercharging the Capitol Rioters?

Trespassing charges don't cut it. Why has no one been charged with insurrection, obstruction of Congress, and interference with a federal election?


Federal authorities have begun charging a handful of the rioters who stormed Capitol Hill Wednesday, but they appear to be grossly undercharging them, a move that’s gone unexamined by key media outlets.

The NYT and WaPo reported uncritically this morning, for instance, on the arrest of individuals variously charged with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority (18 U.S.C. 1752(a)); theft of government property (18 U.S.C. 641); and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds (40 U.S.C. 5104(e)(2)). And a review of charges filed yesterday shows that those were the predominant charges filed against other individuals as well.

But these federal trespassing and mischief charges don’t capture the gravity of the conduct we saw Wednesday, and that raises a critical question — why haven’t individuals also been charged under statutes that describe what they were actually doing: engaging in or aiding insurrection against the authority of the United States (18 U.S.C. 2383), obstruction of Congress (18 U.S.C. 1505), and interference with a federal election (52  U.S.C. 10101(b))?

Those statutes will also suit Trump, Giuliani and perhaps others at the White House rally who exhorted the crowd to march on Congress, but that’s a matter for the Biden DOJ to pursue.

Perhaps superseding charges will be forthcoming. I’ve reached out to DOJ for comment but meanwhile, it’s concerning that the rank and file insurrectionists haven’t been charged appropriately— and surprising that media outlets haven’t raised the question. Soft-pedaling white nationalist sedition won’t end well.

Hat tip to MJH.