A judge in Washington read Justice Department lawyers the riot act Thursday. During a sentencing hearing for a man who breached the Capitol on Jan. 6, Judge Beryl Howell took the federal government attorneys to task over their prosecution of Capitol rioters, saying they were failing the American people by allowing defendants to take plea deals for minor offenses. Howell said, “No wonder parts of the public in the U.S. are confused about whether what happened on January 6 at the Capitol was simply a petty offense of trespassing with some disorderliness, or shocking criminal conduct that represented a grave threat to our democratic norms. Let me make my view clear: The rioters were not mere protesters.” The lawyers had come to an agreement with Jack Jesse Griffith, a Tennessee video game developer, to plead guilty to parading in the Capitol.
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