Sen. Chuck Grassley, ranking Republican of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is urging Attorney General Merrick Garland to “treat all forms of domestic extremism equally.”
Grassley questioned the Department of Justice’s approach to federal prosecutions of rioters. More than half of all Portland riot cases were or will be dismissed, but when it comes to handling cases of rioting at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, more than 400 defendants were charged.
Grassley pointed to the “enormous and unprecedented” violence of 2020, citing a Princeton study that found more than 500 unique riots broke out across the country last year. The letter also refers to 14,000 people arrested in 49 cities, the hundreds of injured police officers, and the violent siege of the courthouse in Portland.
“While the Department of Justice under your leadership spares no effort to prosecute every offense including misdemeanors and trespass if associated with the Capitol breach, which I find no fault with, the same cannot be said of the hundreds of riots that occurred in 2020,” Grassley wrote. “This leniency is distinct from the aggressive prosecution of January 6 related crimes. The law must be applied equally without regard to party, power or privilege.”
In light of the DOJ’s request for an additional $1.5 billion to combat terrorism, Grassley is concerned that the funds could be mishandled.
“I can only imagine that this money will continue to resource the institutional bias that continues to exist for the Department’s historical areas of expertise, militia extremism and white supremacism,” he wrote.
Grassley is seeking answers from the DOJ to explain the discrepancy in prosecutions between the violent Portland riots and the Jan. 6 Capitol breach.