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As more people are charged in connection with the attack, it has become clear that many of those who went to Washington last week were not only angry but heavily armed and, in some cases, dangerous. That point was driven home by court papers filed on Wednesday in the case of Cleveland G. Meredith Jr., who wrote in a text message that he wanted to put a bullet in the “noggin” of Speaker Nancy Pelosi on “live TV,” prosecutors said.
According to the papers, Mr. Meredith drove across the country with a Tavor X95 assault rifle, a 9 mm pistol painted to resemble an American flag and about 2,500 rounds of ammunition, including at least 320 armor-piercing 5.56 caliber rounds. Prosecutors say Mr. Meredith, who has a history of drug abuse and mental illness, also threatened to kill Mayor Muriel E. Bowser of Washington.
“I may wander over to the Mayor’s office and put a 5.56 in her skull,” he wrote in a text message, the court papers said.
This mood of outrage found an echo in the tumultuous congressional debate on impeachment, which stretched throughout the day. The sense of recrimination went beyond the boundaries of Washington as local politicians in other states lobbed accusations at each other.
A group of Arizona state lawmakers released a letter on Wednesday that they had sent a day earlier to Mr. Rosen and Mr. Wray, calling for an investigation into two of their own colleagues, Mark Finchem and Anthony Kern, who, according to social media posts, were at the riot at the Capitol.
The lawmakers also mentioned that two congressmen from Arizona, Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs, both Republicans, had planned the rally that preceded the riot with the organizer of the so-called Stop the Steal movement, Ali Alexander. A spokesman for Mr. Biggs has denied that he had any role in organizing the rally. Mr. Gosar appeared to be on friendly terms with Mr. Alexander, frequently tagging him in Twitter posts. At a rally last month outside the Arizona State Capitol at which Mr. Gosar spoke, Mr. Alexander called the congressman “the spirit animal of this movement.”
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WASHINGTON (AP) — A law enforcement news conference this week on the U.S. Capitol riot was notable not only for news that sedition charges were being contemplated but also because of who was not there: the highest-ranking leaders of the FBI and the Justice Department.
Since loyalists of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol last week, neither FBI Director Chis Wray nor acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen has appeared in public or joined lower-level officials at news conferences or on calls updating the public on the case.
Their absence from the spotlight is striking given the gravity of an attack that has drawn round-the-clock law enforcement attention and bipartisan condemnation. It means that neither official, in a time of national crisis, has appeared on live TV to answer questions or try to reassure the public.
Top FBI and Justice Department leaders might be expected on the podium in more conventional times, but some former officials said they were sympathetic to Rosen and Wray in light of the president’s volatile persona and the politically charged nature of this particular investigation.
“If I were in the position that Jeff Rosen is in right now, I would think about not how I could show off but how most effectively I could do the job and turn these dockets over to the next administration for prosecution,” said Stuart Gerson, who served as acting attorney general in the early weeks of President Bill Clinton’s administration.
Both Rosen and Wray are known for their low-key style, and they could always become more visible in coming days or weeks. But for now the public faces of the Justice Department have largely been Michael Sherwin, the acting U.S. attorney in Washington, and Steven D’Antuono, the head of the FBI’s Washington field office. They stood alone at a department news conference Tuesday to announce the creation of a specialized task force to examine sedition charges and to describe FBI warnings about the potential for more violence.
Officials with direct supervision of an investigation are routinely the featured speakers at news conferences, but they are often joined by higher-level department officials, particularly in matters of great public interest and especially for an event in Washington.
That did not happen Tuesday. When Rosen spoke, he did it through a nearly four-minute prerecorded video released at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday by the Justice Department. In it, he called the siege an “intolerable, shocking and tragic episode” and vowed to hold the rioters accountable.
Rosen has not once addressed Justice Department reporters since becoming acting attorney general late last month. His spokesman released three statements on his behalf about the rioting and the death of a Capitol police officer injured during the attack.
Beyond those statements, Justice Department spokesman Marc Raimondi said, the department has issued “significant” amounts of information through the offices that are running it.
“This is completely consistent with the way the Department releases information following incidents,” he said.
Wray issued a statement last week condemning the violence but has otherwise not spoken publicly. An FBI spokesman said Wray prefers to let the work speak for itself and has been deeply involved behind the scenes, sharing information with local law enforcement officials and giving multiple briefings to lawmakers, including the leadership members who make up the Gang of Four. He has also remained in close contact with senior officials responding to the riot and spent time in a specialized operations center at headquarters.
Still, the low public profile of the leaders contrasts with how previous episodes have been handled. One day after the 2016 rampage at a gay nightclub in Orlando, then-FBI Director James Comey updated reporters on the investigation in a televised briefing and revealed how the FBI had prior contacts with the gunman.
More recently, after authorities used pepper balls and smoke bombs to clear peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square near the White House, then-Attorney General William Barr held news conferences and discussed the Justice Department
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