Today’s update by U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland about the Department of Justice’s investigation into the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol included best practices business leaders should keep in mind for when they investigate a crisis at their companies or organizations.
According to the Washington Post, “The attorney general did not name the former president or those close to him. While many of his statements were common-sense assurances that could be said of any investigation, they seemed designed to address criticism that the department was not taking a broad enough view of possible crimes connected to January 6, or looking at high-profile enough targets, including Trump.”
Based on news reports and other sources about Garland’s speech Wednesday afternoon to DOJ employees, the best practices the federal agency is using to investigate the crisis includes the following:
Put The Inquiry In Perspective
Garland said that, “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.”
Remind People About the Purpose Of The Investigation
“The Justice Department remains committed to holding all January 6th perpetrators, at any level, accountable under law—whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy,” Garland said. “We will follow the facts wherever they lead.”
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Explain What’s At Stake
Garland called the Capitol breach an “unprecedented attack on our democracy.” He promised that the department would 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,” Garland said. “We will protect the cornerstone of our democracy: the right of every eligible citizen to cast a vote that counts.”
He said that, “Those involved must be held accountable, and there is no higher priority for us at the Department of Justice.
Recap The Details Of The Crisis
According to CNN, “… Garland recounted some of the violence and the brutality of that day, detailing accounts of police officers being beaten, tased, and dragged down the stairs by the rioters, all while Vice President Mike Pence and members of Congress were evacuated from the Capitol.
“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,” Garland said. “Those involved must be held accountable, and there is no higher priority for us at the Department of Justice.”
Summarize The Process
He pointed to the “well-worn prosecutorial practices” the department has followed in bringing the variety of charges against those who breached the Capitol grounds.
“In complex cases, initial charges are often less severe than later charged offenses,” Garland said. “This is purposeful, as investigators methodically collect and sift through more evidence.”
“We build investigations by laying a foundation. We resolve more straightforward cases first because they provide the evidentiary foundation for more complex cases,” Garland said, adding later, “There cannot be different rules for the powerful and the powerless.”
“In complex cases, initial charges are often less severe than later charged offenses,” Garland noted, adding that in recent weeks “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.”
Describe The Activities And Progress To Date
According to Garland, ““Only a small number of perpetrators were arrested in the tumult of January 6 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 court rooms were not able to operate.’’
“So far, we have issued over 5,000 subpoenas and search warrants, seized approximately 2,000 devices, poured 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 who have been our indispensable partners in this effort.”
“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 6 attack.”
Outline The Resources That Are Being Used
“Led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the FBI’s Washington field office, DOJ personnel across the department in nearly all 56 field offices and in nearly all 94 U.S. Attorneys offices …have worked countless hours to investigate the attack.
“Approximately 70 prosecutors from the District of Columbia and another 70 from other U.S. Attorney Offices and DOJ divisions have participated in this investigation,” Garland reported.