American taxpayers are funding the defence for US Capitol rioters, report says

Danielle Zoellner
·2 min read

The Justice Department has charged about 275 people so far for their alleged involvement in the deadly US Capitol riots that occurred on 6 January, an official told CBS News.

This came after Americans watched supporters of Donald Trump storm the Capitol building with the intent to cause destruction and pressure lawmakers, including former Vice President Mike Pence, who they believed were not stopping a "fraudulent" presidential election.

Federal charges against the rioters include conspiracy, destruction of federal property, and even "terrorism" –depending on the actions they allegedly displayed on 6 January.

A WUSA9 analysis has found that more than 60 of those charged for their alleged actions on that day have been granted taxpayer-funded representation appointed to them either through the federal public defender's office or private counsel appointed through the Criminal Justice Act so far.

The Criminal Justice Act, which was passed in 1964 by Congress, ensures that anyone charged with federal crimes will have access to legal representation, which falls in step with the 6th Amendment to the US Constitution.

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But it then places the burden on taxpayers to foot the bill for these federal defendants' representation, which could cost in the millions.

When federal trials begin, defendants with less severe charges like loitering in the Capitol building could receive a maximum sentence of six months in prison if convicted. But some rioters could face up to 20 years behind bars if convicted for assault of a federal enforcement officer.

American taxpayers assisting in some defendants' legal bills came as they were already likely footing the bill of the destruction that was caused at the US Capitol, according to Reuters.

The cost to clean and repair the US Capitol remained unknown after rioters smashed windows, graffitied walls, and broke doors during the riots. Industry and policy sources told Reuters that the Architect of the Capitol, which maintains the buildings, grounds, and monuments of Capitol Hill, would likely fund the repairs to the building. These funds would come directly from what the agency receives from taxpayers.

The officials also noted that federal agencies do not have insurance.

"Taxpayers will be on the hook for repairs to the Capitol," Stephen Ellis, the president of the watchdog Taxpayers for Common Sense, told Reuters.

The Justice Department was still actively building its case against rioters based on the events that occurred on 6 January, and approximately 540 subjects were being investigated at to see if they participated in illegal activities.

"The scope and scale of this investigation in these cases are really unprecedented, not only in FBI history but probably DOJ history," Acting US Attorney Michael Sherwin said last month.

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