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AG Merrick Garland delivers remarks ahead of 'solemn' anniversary of the Capitol riot and vows the DOJ has 'no higher priority' than holding those involved 'accountable'

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In this Aug. 5, 2021, file photo, Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks at a news conference at the Department of Justice in Washington.
In this Aug. 5, 2021, file photo, Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks at a news conference at the Department of Justice in Washington.AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File
  • AG Merrick Garland delivered remarks marking the "solemn" anniversary of the Capitol riot.

  • He vowed that the DOJ has "no higher priority" than holding those involved "accountable."

  • "There is no First Amendment right to unlawfully threaten to harm or kill someone," Garland said

Attorney General Merrick Garland delivered remarks on Wednesday marking the "solemn" anniversary of the deadly January 6 riot at the US Capitol.

"Tomorrow will mark the first anniversary of January 6th, 2021, the day the United States Capitol was attacked while lawmakers met to affirm the results of a presidential election," Garland said.

"Those involved must be held accountable, and there is no higher priority for us at the Department of Justice," he added.

Garland also held a moment of silence in memory of the five law enforcement officers who "responded selflessly" to the attack and died as a result.

"I know I speak for all of us in saying that tomorrow, and in our work in the days ahead, we will not only remember them — we will do everything we can to honor them," Garland said.

The attorney general went on to characterize the Justice Department's investigation into the riot as "one of the largest, most complex, and most resource-intensive investigations in our history."

In all, Garland said the department has:

  • Issued more than 5,000 subpoenas and search warrants;

  • Seized about 2,000 devices;

  • Gone through more than 20,000 hours of video footage;

  • Searched through about 15 terrabytes of data;

  • Received more than 300,000 tips;

  • Arrested and charged more than 725 defendants across nearly all 50 states and Washington, DC;

  • Charged about 325 defendants with felonies.

"Every day since [the riot], we have worked to identify, investigate, and apprehend defendants from across the country. And we have done so at record speed and scale — and in the midst of a pandemic during which some grand juries and courtrooms were not able to operate," Garland said.

The attorney general also highlighted more far-reaching consequences of former President Donald Trump and other Republicans' attacks on the integrity of the election process.

"Across the country, election officials and election workers; airline flight crews; school personnel; journalists; local elected officials; US senators and representatives; and judges, prosecutors, and police officers have been threatened and/or attacked," he said.

Garland also noted how voting rights and access to the ballot box are closely tied to safeguarding American democracy. He specifically pointed to the Supreme Court's ruling in the landmark 2013 case Shelby County v. Holder, which stripped one of the Voting Rights Act's most important provisions, and said it paved the way for "a dramatic increase in legislative enactments that make it harder for millions of eligible voters to vote and to elect representatives of their own choosing."

Those enactments have, in turn, been "justified by unfounded claims of material vote fraud in the 2020 election," Garland said.

This story is developing. Check back for updates.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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