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tv   CNN Newsroom With Alisyn Camerota and Victor Blackwell  CNN  January 5, 2022 11:00am-12:00pm PST

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hello, everyone. >> it is good to be with you. so, minutes from now, the u.s. attorney general will talk about the attack on the u.s. capitol that had been almost one year ago. the anniversary, tomorrow. merrick garland plan to reaffirm the justice department's commitment to defending american democracy. >> but he also finds himself on the defense. some critics say he has not been aggressive enough in pursuing the big fish responsible for january 6th. meaning the powerful people who ginned up the rioters and organized the attack. still, more than 725 people have
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been arrested for the siege on the capitol. evan perez is at the justice department. what do we expect to hear from the attorney general? >> well, you know, i think one of the things you're going to hear from the attorney general is about this extraordinary law enforcement operation that has gone on for the last year, a dragnet across the country. one of the unusual things about the crime scene on january 6th was that almost nobody, very few people were arrested that day and the fbi has had to go hunt down all these people and you know, they've done, they've had a lot of success, but there's you know, from the fbi's perspective, there's one big investigation that they have not been able to make much progress on and that is the search for the person who left behind two bombs. one at the rnc and dnc buildings just a couple of blocks from the u.s. capitol. i sat down with the top fbi official overseeing this investigation and we talked about some of the challenges of this investigation. take a listen. >> in prior covid times, any
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neighborhood in the country, if you saw an individual hooded, masked, glasses, gloves on, it would have been a red flag for any individual walking around that day. in this case, it wasn't. because of the environment we're living in during covid times. >> one of the things we wonder is why the bombs didn't go off. >> they could have, they just didn't. in this area where bombs were placed, if they did go off, they could have caused serious harm or death. >> and in the next few minutes, we're going to hear from the attorney general about this investigation and you can expect that he's going to talk about the steps that the work that they're doing to defend american democracy, what you probably are not going to hear is some of the things you guys raised at the top there, which is you know, what about donald trump? what about the people who were close to him who helped foment what happened on january 6th? that is specific information about the investigation that he
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is going to address. >> yeah, this address may not go so far to satisfy his critics. evan perez, thank you so much. sources tell cnn the white house or the house rather committee investigating the insurrection is meeting tonight with former white house press secretary, stephanie grisham. it comes a day after the panel said they'd like to speak with fox host, sean hannity. >> the committee says there are dozen of texts from hannity and to hannity indicating that he had quote, advanced knowledge of the plans for january 6th. ryan nobles is on capitol hill. so ryan, tell us about those texts. >> yeah, that's right. the econocommittee very interesn communication hannity was having with members of the congress, the white house, and even the former president himself. not just on january 6th, but in the time period leading up to january 6th. based on these text messages the committee released yesterday in
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their letter to hannity, it seemed as though he had a good idea of just what lengths the white house and trump campaign were willing to go to to try to pressure mike pence to stand in the way of the certification results on january 6th. here's a sample of some of those texts. on december 31st, 2020, hannity to meadows, writes, we can't lose the entire white house counsel's office. i do not see january 6th happening the way it's being told. this is hannity raising alarm bells about this strategy to try and convince pence to stand in the way of the certification results. then on january 5th, the day this was supposed to take place, a year ago today, hannity said to meadows, very worried about the next 48 hours. so the committee wants to know why hannity was so concerned. they also want to know if he talked specifically with the former president on that day and then of course, why his rhetoric in these text messages didn't at all match what he was saying on
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his television program. now the committee has said they are subpoenaing hannity at this point. this is a volunteer request asking him to come on his own accord. his lawyer telling jay secclo they're concerned there are some second amendment issues. but they haven't said how hannity intended to respond to this question. >> those texts raise so many questions and the chair of the committee wants to talk to mike pence. any indication that pence is willing to do that? >> at this point, pence and his team don't have any comment on that thompson told me yesterday in an interview, but i asked him specifically, do they want to hear from pence because of the role that he played in the days leading up to january 6th and of course, what he was in the middle of on january 6th and thompson said he would very much like pence just to come in on his own. to volunteer to talk to the committee. that he believes it would be his civic duty.
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now, thompson has not formally offered that opportunity for mike pence like he's done for sean hannity and some members of congress, but he didn't rule out the opportunity of a subpoena down the road. so it's clear the committee is very interested in what pence knows about the activity on january 6 th. >> thank you very much. let's open up the conversation and bring in andrew mccabe, former deputy director of the fbi. cnn chief legal analyst, jeffrey toobin and nia henderson. alyson mentioned the criticism at the top of the show that the attorney general is receiving for the pace of the investigation. for the lack of big fish here. >> i think merrick garland has been extremely weak and i think there should be a lot more of the organizers of january 6th
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that should be arrested by now. we have again an attorney general who is you know, fekless and not been helpful in sprefring our democracy. >> what do you make of that criticism and should the investigation progress where it has beyond this far? >> well, i understand his frustration. i'm not sure, i think the words he used were maybe a little overheated. i think as far as the pace of the investigation goes, i understand and i'm not troubled by the pace that the fbi is going through to identify, locate, and charge the people who were involved that day. but i think where the criticism is completely fair and warranted is the lack of any sort of indication from the justice department that they are even considering pursuing more serious charges, charges like seditious conspiracy and other serious charges against people
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who were at central roles in the attack or may have been involved in the planning and the organization of the attack. i would call the ag a very, very careful person. i think maybe the slow pace with which he's possibly considering those charges is beginning to have the effect that you saw in the congressman. people are frustrated by that and rightly so. >> jeffrey, legally speaking, is there any reason not to move forward with charges against the big fish? >> well, the question is do they have evidence against the big fish? and it does appear that the justice department is pursuing the traditional organized crime approach to this case. which is work from the bottom up. which is get the foot soldiers who are easy to prosecute then try to flip people. and what is unclear is whether anyone with knowledge of how this event was planned and who planned it and how it was paid for, whether any of those people have flipped.
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the, that's what they are potentially trying to do. but they haven't done it yet and the only point i would add, perhaps in defense of the justice department, is that covid makes a difference here. it is very hard to try cases. it is very hard to get juries into courtrooms in washington. anywhere else. and so the traditional way you start prosecuting people. trying people. con convicting people. flipping people. it slowed down not just because of the number of people here, but also because of the difficulty of making the process work during covid. >> nia, let's talk about these text messages to and from sean hannity that were revealed by the committee in this letter and to his attorney. it shows not just a cooperation, a coordination, which would surprise no one. he went on tour with the former president, but it shows like a degree of instruction to the white house. to the chief of staff.
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to those inside the administration where he says guys, we have a clear path to land the plane in nine days. he can't mention the election ever again. i do not have a good, did not have a good call with him today and worse, i'm not sure what is left to do or say and i don't like not knowing if it's truly understood idea. let's just start with the we of it all and the suggestion that the president can't talk about the election ever again although he does at every opportunity. >> he does at every opportunity. donald trump does. sean hannity does on his program as well and we get sort of two side of hannity here. someone who is nervous about what could happen on january 6th. someone who's warning the president against talking about this election going forward, but then somebody who's publicly standing by donald trump's side, promoting the big lie, embracing the big lie, and then more recently, sort of down playing what happened on january 6th.
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listen, it's no surprise that hannity is working hand in glove with this white house. i think in many ways, donald trump himself is a product of fox news and offered instruction from them and you even see more recently, the idea that he was going to have a press conference on january 6th and talk about what happened on january 6th and talk about the folks who are being prosecuted and in court and probably defend them. he has been advised in some ways by the people on fox, this wasn't a good idea. it is not a surprise to see that hannity is one way in private and another way in public to please donald trump. nor is it any surprise he's trying to advise and guide this white house because i think that was his role in many ways throughout the four years that donald trump was in the white house. >> but it's still just incredible to see the, that fox hosts have to say this is not a
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good luck. you can't do this. it's just remarkable. but go ahead, jeffrey. yes. >> can i just make a point about the whole sean hannity issue? >> yeah. >> which is you know, in the initial reaction, the corporate department of fox made a statement about oh, this raises first amendment issues. he is not acting as a journalist there. he just on the face of the text messages, he is giving advice to the white house. he is a adviser. he is a witness. he is not a journalist in this situation. so you know, to wave the first amendment in response to this request for testimony is really just fake and i don't think anyone should take it serious. >> and jeffrey, furthermore, when it has come up, whether or not it has been a journalist, there have been times that hannity himself has said something to the effect of no. sometimes he's tried to wear that mantle, but it's fallen
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apart right away. and when they go to court, for instance, tucker carlson's show, it is revealed in court where you have to tell the truth, that it's performance art. so there's just a ton of evidence that it's not, he's not acting ever as a journalist, but andrew, on this point, the fact that hannity says, quote, i'm worried about the next 48 hours. that tells you, tells i think the committee, i should say, that he knows something troubling is coming down the pike. and so what does the committee do with that? >> as an investigator, i can only maimagine what it was like when they read those texts for the first time. lights are just going off in your head. they so clearly indicate a few really key things. one, sean hannity was involved in the discussions about whatever was going to happen on january 6th and was involved in the planning and certainly was troubled by the fact that the white house counsel's office was
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somehow communicating to him they might leave or quit if the pressure on mike pence was continuing. so he's involved before anything happens then on the immediate eve of the events, he indicates he's greatly concerned about it. so he is absolutely a fact witness right in the cross hairs of this committee. they have to do whatever is necessary to secure his testimony. i'm sure it will be a fight. but they are complete -- i agree with jeff's comments entirely. this is far outside his news gathering activity as the justice department typically refers to it. let's face it. we know what his journalism was in the aftermath of these events. it doesn't seem consistent with any of the things he was saying to these folks ahead of time. i think he's worthy of talking to. >> all right, thank you all very much. and stay with us. we of course will bring you ag garland's remarks as soon as they begin. and join jake tapper and
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anderson cooper for an unprecedented gathering inside the capitol with police, lawmakers and leaders live from the capitol, january 6th, one year later. begins tomorrow night at 8:00 here on cnn. other news. there's been a horrible fire in a row niehouse in philadelphia t has killed 13 people including seven children. we're going to bring you the latest on what officials say went wrong. zbl and millions of students are home today as schools scramble to cope with the latest covid surge. we'll talk about the impact of covid on kids, next. so when my windshield broke... >> woman: what?! >> vo: ...i searched for someone who really knew my car. i found the experts at safelite autoglass. with their exclusive technology, they fixed my windshield... then recalibrated the camera attached to my glass so my safety systems still work. who knew that was a thing?! >> woman: safelite has service i can trust. >> singers: ♪ safelite repair, safelite replace. ♪
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in philadelphia's history. that's how the mayor is describing the fire that killed 13 people. seven of them children. first responders were devastated. >> the fire was extinguished and -- it was terrible. most, i've been around for 30, 35 years now and this is probably one of the worst fires i've ever been to. >> evan is there at the scene and got to listen to that deputy commissioner. you can imagine, seven children killed there. any information about how this started? >> well, you heard the emotion in that quote from deputy fire commissioner. that's really what's going on right now.
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dealing with the actual aftermath of this horrible tragedy. we are getting some facts, but there are still a lot of questions. 26 people living in a two-family row house owned by the public housing authority here in philadelphia. the city says that probably is too many people to be living in that house, but they don't know why that many people were in there at the moment. we're waiting to see what the investigators find inside the house. last we heard they were having trouble doing that. last hour, we've seen fire department officials put this tarp on the front of the house over there. if you can see right past that street sign is where the fire took place and now they're covering up to do more investigation. trying to find out just what happened and how it happened. as you mentioned, the fire, the call came in about 6:40 a.m. of a fire in this row house that ripped through and left seven children dead.
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>> there was heavy fire and what would be for them the kitchen area. the front of the second floor and an open stairwell. the only thing that slowed them down from moving, there was nothing. we have all hands on deck because of the magnitude of this fire. >> you can see there the fire officials that moved in and put this fire out, but not without that loss of life and that's some of the questions that we're hoping to answer in the coming hours and days. just what happened and how it happened, but for right now, it's a very active moment here in philadelphia. you can smell the aftermath of that fire. you can see the street laid out for trash pick up today. just a regular day marred by this unbelievable fire that the city will be talking about for quite a long time.
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>> terrible tragedy there. thank you so much. right now, cdc advisers are meeting to discuss whether to follow the fda and recommend boosters for kids 12 to 15 years old. >> earlier today, dr. fauci said information about a vaccine for kids under 5 may not come in until the middle of the year. we have the latest. >> no school in-person or virtual today for more than 340,000 students in chicago. the third largest school district in the country. the teachers union voting to go remote. the district canceling all classes in response. >> let me remind you about what the consequences of moving an entire urban district to remote learning are. and we simply can't ignore the realities of the history that we experienced through 2020 and 2021. >> according to the white house, 96% of schools across the
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country are open, working to turn the page away from the time of remote learning. >> i would think that schools could open really at very, very low risk if everybody does everything. >> new federally run test sites are set to open in six states. those tests considered critical for slowing spread of the virus are still in dangerously short simply. the extra half billion at-home covid tests promised by the biden administration, delayed. >> i wish the cdc would just come out and say, hey, we don't have enough tests. we really should have enough tests then you could test yourself out of isolation. >> instead, the cdc issuing updated guidance this week creating more confusion. now suggesting that people in isolation who have access to a test could test after five days. if positive, isolate for five more days, but the cdc says if you don't test after five days of isolation, just wear a mask for five more days. >> so if there were an abundant and overly abundant supply of
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rapid tests, i think we'd be approaching this differently. we might all be getting up in the morning and doing a rapid test before going to work, before sending our kids off to school. and if they're negative, we're out and about feeling better. >> the country's not averaging more than a half million new covid cases daily. 95% are estimated by the cdc to be omicron. up to three times more contagious than delta. and hospitalizations are surpassing the delta peak last september and approaching the all-time high set last january. >> the sheer volume of the number of cases that may be a reduced severity, but could still stress our hospital system. >> ohio, maryland, delaware, and georgia are the latest states to call up their national guards to help in hospitals and the cancellations keep coming. seth meyers scrapping episodes of his late night show after testing positive. jimmy fallon also announcing he tested positive after the holiday break.
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>> and while the biden administration is promising they're going to be sending these half billion at-home tests to americans free of charge, we are also saying that shipment won't cut into the supply on store shelves. that is of course if you can find a kit on a store shelf and if you find a kit, you might be paying. the price on the popular kits is going up at a couple of retailers including walmart and kroger. that's because a deal to sell those kits at cost struck with the white house has expired. >> thank you. all right. joining us now is pediatric emergency room doctor, dr. sarah combs. thank you so much for being here. i want to talk about when kids under 5 might be able to get the vaccine. because so many parents are waiting for that. and we heard from dr. fauci earlier today and i had falsely assumed that it was you know, stuck in some bureaucratic quagmire. no, he said that they just don't have the dosage right basically.
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so let me play that for everyone. >> those studies are ongoing to get the right dose regiment to get to where we want to be and likely the clinical trial are ongoing in individuals less than 5 years. hopefully in the first half, hopefully towards the earlier part of the first half, we may have some information so that we can vaccinate children of that age. >> i've already heard from parents who say that that six month, you know, general window that he gave there is longer than they had hoped for. so what's your professional and personal reaction to hearing that? >> so, honestly, exactly the same. so you know, both as a professional who's on the front lines treating pediatric patients, seeing with this new wave, a lot of under 5s coming into the hospital with our hospitalized patients at children's national. we're talking about almost 50% of them are that under 5 age
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group. and i'm a parent of an under 5 child. so it is, i think, a bit of a disappointment. i do have the same understanding that you talked about that as opposed to it being bureaucracy, what they're really trying to do is refine the dosage and the number of vaccinations needed. so i think what we as medical professionals are trying to message to parents is to say yes, it's a disappointment, but take some heartening from this in the sense that we know they're doing it the right way. they want to get the dosage right. they want to do three shots if they need to do three shots for the response to be mounted in that young age group and we want to roll out the correct thing that's going to protect those young and vulnerable children. >> we've seen so many spikes of children being in the hospital. just tell us what you're seeing on the front lines. are you seeing vaccinated kids come into the hospital? are these just unvaccinated? only seeing kids under 5? what's the scene there? >> it's a mix. i'm on the front lines in the
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emergency department. we're seeing a lot of covid. not surprisingly. very little other virus, which is surprising. normally you'd expect to see common cold viruses spiking this time of year with winter. we're really seeing just covid, covid, covid at children's national hospital, which is also across the nation. in terms of the age distribution, it's a bit of a mix. i would say in general, we are seeing high numbers of the younger kids so the under 5s like i said are making up about half of our hospitalized patients at children's national then the 5 to 11 group are making up about another 20% and amongst those, even though they are eligible for vaccine, by and far, the ones who are coming in to be hospitalized are unfortunately not vaccinated or only partially vaccinated. >> and so just tell us about the emotional toll that that is taking on pediatricians and we've talked to so many er doctors and we know that it is, has been a real trial for everyone. but in terms of seeing little
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kids, again, you are a mom of i think an under 1-year-old child. so what's that doing to pediatricians? >> i think it can be hard. i think certainly that has gone on for a while. i think all those of us who even aren't in healthcare, it's been an emotional toll. as a parent, there's a toll of not being sure of what the best decision is for your child then add to that, the layer of working in healthcare and having to see young children suffer. i think it's really tough. i think one advantage we have in pediatrics and this has been talked about in the media is that luckily, for the most part, children are doing very well with covid. and those of us in pediatric front line work, acute care medical work, we see this in general that children can get sick very quickly, but they also have this amazing resiliency and bounce back so well. so i think for those of us where it is hard, there's a toll, it
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can be heartening to see, but say that patient admitted to the hospital a few days ago to the intensive care unit, needing support for breathing, really not doing well, three or four days later, they might be walking out of the hospital back to their normal selves. so i think we take solace in that. >> that is a saving grace. thank you very much. great to talk to you. >> thank you for having me. chicago closes its schools physically and virtually after the teachers union voted to go remote. how the mayor is reacting. next. but first, here's a look at some of the other events we're watching today.
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what does a foster kid need from you? to be brave. to show up.
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for staying connected. the questions they weren't able to ask. show up for the first day of school, the last day at their current address. for the mornings when everything's wrong. for the manicure that makes everything right, for right now. show up, however you can, for the foster kids who need it most— at one day after their union voted to stop in-person instruction, teachers in chicago
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say they've been locked out of their virtual classrooms. >> the city says their decision not to return to class amounts to a quote, work stoppage, and that teachers can lose their pay over it. adrian, how long do teachers think this is going to go on? >> a representative with the union says the target date to return to the classroom is january 18th. if not before. and the union has laid out specific requests that will help lead its teachers back to the classroom. for example, they will return to the classroom if there is a decrease in this covid surge. if that doesn't happen, they hope to come to an agreement with the city and the mayor. for example, they're asking for some specific things, which include increased and better testing and they want to staff and students to be provided with better masks. specifically kn95 masks. the union voted last night to
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return to remote learning, but as you mentioned, after that vote, the teachers union says the city and the district locked them out of their online learning portals. we heard from educators throughout the day. here's what one of them had to say in response to the mayor. >> the schools are safe. we know it because of the hundreds of millions of dollars that cps has invested in our schools. why are we here again? it doesn't make any practical sense. >> i have seen how the schools are not clean. if we need more workers or you need to get another contract to make sure our schools are safe, then that's what you do, but don't keep using us as sacrificial lambs, saying that it's safe to be in schools. it's not. it's not. and so this is what you have left us to do.
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again. >> so frustration on both sides. the teachers also saying they never intended to stop instruction. also saying earlier today the students have the tools readily available for remote learning. so we will wait and see what happens. >> obviously just the students are on the losing end of this struggle. adrian, thank you very much. >> any moment, attorney general merrick garland will speak about the january 6th investigation a day before the one-year anniversary. new information we have on what he's expected to say. that's next. a strategic and sustainable asset... the path is gilded with the potential for rich returns. ♪ ♪ wow, we're crunching tons of polygons here! what's going on? where's regina? hi, i'm ladonna.
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let's go now to the department of justice and attorney general merrick garland. >> the more than 115,000 employees of the department of justice for the first time. today, i have brought us all together again for two reasons. first and foremost, to thank you. thank you for the work you have done not just over the last ten months, but over the past several years. work that you have done in the face of unprecedented challenges. ranging from an unprecedented, deadly pandemic to an unprecedented attack on our democracy. thank you for your service, for your sacrifice, and for your dedication. i am honored to serve alongside you.
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and second, as we begin a new year and as we prepare to mark a solemn anniversary tomorrow, it is a fitting time to reaffirm that we at the department of justice will do everything in our power to defend the american people and american democracy. we will defend our democratic institutions from attack. we will protect those who serve the public from violence and threats of violence. we will protect the corner stone of our democracy. the right to every eligible citizen to cast a vote that counts. and we will do all of this in a manner that adheres to the rule of law and honors our obligation to protect the civil rights and civil liberties of everyone in this country. tomorrow will mark the first anniversary of january 6th, 2021. the day the united states capitol was attacked while
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lawmakers met to affirm the results of a presidential election. in the early afternoon of january 6th, as the united states senate and house of representatives were meeting to certify the vote count of the electoral college, a large crowd gathered outside the capitol building. shortly after 2:00 p.m., individuals in the crowd began to force entry into the capitol by smashing windows and assaulting u.s. capitol police who were stationed there to protect the members of congress as they took part in one of the most solemn proceedings of our democracy. others in the crowd encouraged and assisted those who attacked the police. over the course of several hours, outnumbered law enforcement officers sustained a barrage of repeated, violent attacks. about 80 capitol police and 60 d.c. metropolitan police were assaulted.
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as our own court filings and thousands of public videos of the event attest, perpetrators punched dozens of law enforcement officers, knocking some officers unconscious. some perpetrators tackled and dragged law enforcement officers. among the many examples of such violence, one officer was crushed in a door. another was dragged down a set of stairs, face down, repeatedly tased and beaten and suffered a heart attack. some perpetrators attacked law enforcement officers with chemical agents that burned their eyes and skin and some assaulted officers with pipes, poles, and other dangerous or deadly weapons. perpetrators also targeted, assaulted, tackled, and harassed journalists and destroyed their equipment. with increasing numbers of individuals having breached the capitol, members of the senate
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and house of representatives, including the president of the senate, vice president mike pence, had to be evacuated. as a consequence, proceedings in both chambers were disrupted for hours. interfering with a fundamental element of american democracy, the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to the next. those involved must be held accountable and there is no higher priority for us at the department of justice. it is impossible to overstate the heroism of the capitol police officers, washington, d.c. metro police department officers, and other law enforcement officers who defended and secured the capitol that day. they demonstrated to all of us and to our country what true courage looks like.
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their resolve, their sacrifice, and their bravery protected thousands of people working inside the capitol that day. five officers who responded selflessly to the attack on january 6th have since lost their lives. i ask everyone to please join me in a moment of silence in recognition of the service and sacrifice of officer brian, officer brian levin good, officer jeffrey smith, officer gunther hashida and officer kyle defreytag. 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
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will do everything we can to honor them. in the aftermath of the attack, the justice department began its work on what has become one of the largest, most complex and most resource-intensive investigations in our history. only a small number of perpetrators were arrested in the tumult of january 6th itself. every day since, we have worked to identify, investigate, and apprehend defendants from across the country. and we have done so at record speed and scale in the midst of a pandemic during which some grand juries and courtrooms were not able to operate. led by the u.s. attorney's office for the district of columbia and the fbi's washington field office, d. o.j. personnel across the department in nearly all 56 field offices in nearly all 94 united states attorneys offices and in many
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main justice components have worked countless hours to investigate the attack. approximately 70 prosecutors from the district of columbia and another 70 from other u.s. attorneys offices and doj divisions have participated in this investigation. so far, we have issued over 5,000 subpoenas and search warrants, seized approximately 2,000 devices, pored through over 20,000 hours of video footage, and searched through an estimated 15 terabytes of data. we have received over 300,000 tips from ordinary citizens, partners in this effort. the fbi's web site continues to post photos of persons in connection with the events of january 6th, and we continue to seek the public's assistance in identifying those individuals.
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as of today, we have arrested and charged more than 725 defendants in nearly all 50 states and the district of columbia for their roles in the january 6th attack. in charging the perpetrators, we have followed well worn prosecutorial processes. those who assaulted officers or damaged the capitol face greater charges. those who conspired with others to obstruct the vote count also face greater charges. those who did not undertake such conduct have been charged with lesser offenses, particularly if they accepted their responsibility early and cooperated with the investigation. in the first months of the investigation, approximately 145 defendants pled guilty to misdemeanors. mostly defendants who did not cause injury or damage.
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such pleas reflect the facts of those cases and the defendant's acceptance of responsibility. and they help conserve both judicial and prosecutorial resources so that attention can properly focus on the more serious perpetrators. in complex cases, initial charges are often less severe than later charged offenses. this is purposeful, as investigators methodically collect and sift through more evidence. by now, though, we have charged over 325 defendants with felonies. many for assaulting officers and more for corruptly obstructing or attempting to obstruct an official proceeding. 20 charged with felonies have already pled guilty. approximately 40 defendants have been charged with conspiracy to obstruct a congressional proceeding or to obstruct law
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enforcement. in the months ahead, 17 defendants are already scheduled to go to trial for their role in felony conspiracies. a necessary consequence of the prosecutorial approach of charging less serious offenses first is that courts impose shorter sentences before they impose longer ones. in recent weeks, however, as judges have sentenced the first defendants convicted of assault and related violent conduct against officers, we have seen significant sentences that reflect the seriousness of those offenses, both in terms of the injuries they caused and the serious risk they posed to our democratic institutions. the actions we have taken thus far will not be our last. the justice department remains committed to holding all january 6th perpetrators at any level accountable under law, whether
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they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy. we will follow the facts wherever they lead. because january 6th was an unprecedented attack on the seat of our democracy, we understand that there is broad public interest in our investigation. we understand that there are questions about how long the investigation will take and about what exactly we are doing. our answer is and will continue to be the same answer we would give with respect to any ongoing investigation, as long as it takes, and whatever it takes for justice to be done consistent with the facts and the law. i understand that this may not be the answer some are looking for. but we will and we must speak through our work.
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anything else jeopardizes the viability of our investigations and the civil liberties of our citizens. everyone in this room and on these screens is familiar with the way we conduct investigations and particularly complex investigations. we build investigations by laying a foundation. we resolve more straightforward cases first because they provide the evidentiary foundation for more complex cases. investigating the more overt crimes generates linkages to less overt ones. overt actors and the evidence they provide can lead us to others who may also have been involved. and that evidence can serve as the foundation for further investigative leads and techniques. and circumstances like those of january 6th, a full accounting does not suddenly materialize to
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ensure that all of those criminally responsible are held accountable, we must collect the evidence. we follow the physical evidence. we follow the digital evidence. we follow the money. but most important, we follow the facts. not an agenda or an assumption, the facts tell us where to go next. over 40 years ago in the wake of the water gate scandal, the justice department concluded that the best way to ensure the department's independence, integrity, and fair application of our laws and therefore the best way to ensure the health of our democracy is to have a set of norms to govern our work. the central norm is that in our criminal investigations, there can not be different rules depending on one's political party or affiliation. there cannot be different rules for friends and foes.
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and there can not be different rules for the powerful and the powerless. there is only one rule. we follow the facts and enforce the law in a way that respects the constitution and protects civil liberties. we conduct every investigation guided by the same enonorms, ane adhere to those norms even when and especially when the circumstances we face are not normal. adhering to the department's long standing norms is essential to our work in defending our democracy, particularly at a time when we are confronting a rise in violence and unlawful threats of violence in our shared public spaces and directed at those who serve the public. we have all seen that americans who serve and interact with the public at every level, many of
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whom make our democracy work every day, have been unlawfully targeted with threats of violence and actual violence. across the country, election officials and election workers, airline flight crews, school personnel, journalists, local elected officials, u.s. senators and representatives and judges, prosecutors and police officers have been threatened and/or attacked. these are our fellow citizens who administer our elections, ensure our safe travel, teach our children, report the news, represent their constituents and keep our communities safe. some have been told that their offices would be bombed. some have been told that they would be murdered and precisely how, that they would be hanged, that they would be beheaded.
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police officers who put their lives on the line every day to serve our communities have been targeted with extraordinary levels of violence. flight crews have been assaulted. journalists have been targeted, school personnel and their families have been threatened. a member of congress was threatened in a gruesome voice mail that asked if she had ever seen what a 50 caliber shell does to a human head. another member of congress, an iraq war veteran and purple heart recipient, received threats that left her terrified for her family. and in 2020, a federal judge in new jersey was targeted by someone who had appeared before her in court. that person compiled information about where the judge and her


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