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Feds Vow To 'Fully Prosecute' Oklahomans Who Traveled To D.C. With Intent To Attack Capitol

Chris Polansky
U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma Trent Shores at a news conference at his Tulsa office on Aug. 11, 2020.

Oklahoma's three top federal prosecutors said Thursday they stand ready to prosecute any individuals who may have traveled from their jurisdictions to Washington, D.C., with intent to participate in the siege on the U.S. Capitol that left five people dead. 

"The FBI is investigating the events of yesterday at our nation's Capitol," said U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Oklahoma Brian Kuester in a statement. "If it is determined that any of the criminal events have venue that lie in the Eastern District of Oklahoma, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will fully prosecute those crimes."


“The violence on display at the U.S. Capitol is unacceptable, and must be condemned by all those who love our country," read a statement from U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma Timothy Downing. "We stand united at the Department of Justice and committed to ensuring that those responsible for attacks on our Government and the rule of law face the full consequences of their actions under the law.”

Reached by phone Thursday, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma Trent Shores said seeing images of the attack left him shocked.

"Really, I just found them despicable and I was a bit sickened by them," Shores said. 

"I am particularly offended by the fact that the individuals yesterday attacked one of our institutions, the foundation of our democratic republic and our Congress," Shores said. "That they literally laid siege to our Capitol building and then disrespected it and, I think, our Constitution."

Mobs of pro-Trump supporters, with encouragement from the president himself, gathered in Washington to object to what Trump has falsely called a "stolen election" on the day Congress was scheduled to certify President-elect Joe Biden's legitimate win. They succeeded in breaching the Capitol building, resulting in emergency evacuations and lockdowns for members of both chambers in the middle of debate.

Shores said beyond being upsetting, he believes the footage is evidence.

"As a United States Attorney, when I look at that situation, what I see are violations of federal law that may be prosecuted," Shores said. 

He said his office, at the moment, has no information suggesting any individuals did travel from the Northern District of Oklahoma to Washington with criminal intent this week, and stressed that simply traveling to participate in the rally is not a crime in itself.

"That's not illegal. That's not a problem. It's where they traveled with the intent to engage in this riotous act, to stir up and threaten a riot, to commit acts of violence that would get a riot going, to engage in civil disorder, to commit -- or even attempt to commit -- violent acts to obstruct law enforcement officers," Shores said.

In a statement, Acting United States Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said, "“Yesterday, our Nation watched in disbelief as a mob breached the Capitol Building and required federal and local law enforcement to help restore order.  The Department of Justice is committed to ensuring that those responsible for this attack on our Government and the rule of law face the full consequences of their actions under the law. 

"Our criminal prosecutors have been working throughout the night with special agents and investigators from the U.S. Capitol Police, FBI, ATF, Metropolitan Police Department and the public to gather the evidence, identify perpetrators, and charge federal crimes where warranted.  Some participants in yesterday’s violence will be charged today, and we will continue to methodically assess evidence, charge crimes and make arrests in the coming days and weeks to ensure that those responsible are held accountable under the law.”

Chris joined Public Radio Tulsa as a news anchor and reporter in April 2020. He’s a graduate of Hunter College and the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, both at the City University of New York.
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