The US Justice Department has charged more than 300 people with taking part in the deadly storming of the Capitol by former President Donald Trump's supporters, and at least 280 have been arrested, Acting Deputy Attorney General John Carlin told reporters on Friday.
The riots led to the deaths of five people, four rioters and one police officer. At least 158 police officers were injured and an unknown number of protesters who supported former US President Donald Trump.
The FBI has been investigating whether far-right fringe groups such as the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys conspired in advance to impede the election certification.
So far, at least 18 associates of the Proud Boys have been charged in connection with the riots. This month, prosecutors also charged nine associates of the Oath Keepers in connection with an alleged plot to storm the Capitol dating as far back as November 2020.
The senior FBI official told reporters that domestic extremists have increasingly posed grave threats for several years, and said anti-government extremist threats marked the biggest threat in 2020 and remain a top concern.
"2020 was a very big year for us. The violent reaction to a mixture of events that took place around the country is unlike anything we have seen in decades," the official said, noting that three of the four fatal domestic terrorism attacks came from people who ascribe to an "anti-government or anti-authority violent extremist ideology."
One protester, Oath Keepers leader Jessica Watkins, claimed that she "fell prey to the false and inflammatory claims of the former president, his supporters, and the right wing media."
She was charged with conspiring to storm the Capitol to prevent Congress from certifying President Joe Biden's election victory and pleaded not guilty to the conspiracy charges.
Watkins' motion states that after the riots took place, she "believed the right wing media's assertions that the violence was perpetrated by 'antifa' or others."
Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick died from injuries sustained at the riots. Four protesters also died, Ashli Elizabeth Babbitt, Rosanne Boyland, Kevin Greeson and Benjamin Philips. Babbitt and Boyland were both very active in online QAnon conspiracy theory debates and are said to have been believers of it.
Based on a series of posts on the 4chan website by a user self-named as Q, the theory is that the US is largely controlled by the Deep State and that an alleged cooperation between liberal elites, pedophiles, and Satan worshippers.
The theory claims Trump, a former reality show host who owned casinos, is meant to redeem America by exposing these crimes.
The user chose Q to suggest he, or she, enjoys a security clearance by the US Department of Energy which would give access to top secret information and so to such alleged dark secrets kept hidden from the public.
Jacob Chansley, the protester who became known around the world when he stormed the Capitol wearing horns and no shirt, said that Trump "let a lot of peaceful people down" and expressed regret over his actions, US News reported.
He pleaded the public to “be patient with me and other peaceful people who, like me, are having a very difficult time piecing together all that happened to us, around us, and by us. We are good people who care deeply about our country.”