On Monday, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and four other GOP senators penned a letter to Attorney General Merrrick Garland, complaining that those who participated in the Jan. 6 Capitol attack received unfair treatment compared to demonstrators who took part in protests following the death of George Floyd last summer.
The letter comes as 513 people have been arrested in connection with the deadly attack. The Department of Justice said on June 4 that at least 550 people are expected to be charged in total.
In the letter, signed by Texas Sen. Cruz, Florida Sen. Rick Scott, Utah Sen. Mike Lee, Minnesota Sen. Ron Johnson, and Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville, the senators cite information that indicates that the social justice protests that took place across the country last year caused “loss of life, injuries to law enforcement officers, and significant property damage,” which will result in $1 billion to $2 billion in unpaid insurance claims.
One federal officer was killed and 147 were injured, along with 600 local police officers in the summer riots, the senators said.
“Despite these numerous examples of violence occurring during these protests, it appears that individuals charged with committing crimes at these events may benefit from infrequent prosecutions and minimal, if any, penalties,” the letter says.
According to an article cited in the letter, “prosecutors have approved deals in at least half a dozen federal felony cases arising from clashes between protesters and law enforcement in Oregon last summer. The arrangements — known as deferred resolution agreements — will leave the defendants with a clean criminal record if they stay out
of trouble for a period of time and complete a modest amount of community service, according to defense attorneys and court records.”
The letter states that the deals contrast starkly with the DOJ’s “harsh” treatment of participants in the Capitol riot that was intended to thwart the congressional certification of the Electoral College vote making Joe Biden and Kamala Harris the winners of the 2020 races for president and vice president, and it adds that while the DOJ regularly updates online information about arrestees, including their names, charges and case status, no such webpage exists for those charged in the protests last summer.
“The potential unequal administration of justice with respect to certain protestors is particularly concerning,” the letter says, before posing a series of questions, and requesting that they be answered by June 21.
The questions seek answers about how many people were arrested in the summer 2020 protests, how many of those arrested were released on bail or received deferred resolution agreements, and how many FBI agents were assigned to work on the cases. The letter also poses similar questions about the Jan. 6 riot.
Lawmakers were forced to flee to safety when Donald Trump supporters unhappy with the outcome of the presidential election stormed the Capitol as the results were being certified. Rioters pushed past barriers and crushed windows to breach the building in chaos that left five people, including one police officer, dead.
Over 130 defendants have been charged with assaulting, resisting or impeding officers or employees, including more than 40 who were charged with using a deadly or dangerous weapon or causing serious bodily injury to an officer, according to the Department of Justice.
About 50 of those arrested are current or former military members, while 10 are current or former members of law enforcement.
In May, Cruz, Johnson, Lee, Scott and Tuberville were five of 35 Republicans who voted against the creation of a bipartisan commission charged with studying the riot.
“I do not support the politically motivated January 6 Commission led by Sen. Schumer and Speaker Pelosi,” Cruz said in a statement last month.
The Senate’s homeland security and rules committees issued a 127-page report on the Capitol riot on June 8, calling the insurrection an “unprecedented attack” on American democracy.
According to the report, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security didn’t do enough to prepare for or prevent the attack.
“Neither the F.B.I. nor D.H.S. deemed online posts calling for violence at the Capitol as credible,” the report says.
The House impeached Trump after the riot, holding him responsible for the attack, although he was acquitted in the Senate, where all but seven Republicans voted against his conviction.