US Marine officer charged in Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection

Major Christopher Warnagiris is the first active duty military officer to be charged over the attack, in which several hundred Trump backers stormed the seat of the US legislature and shut down a session confirming Joe Biden as the winner of the November presidential election.

A Trump supporter gestures to other demonstrators as they try to break into the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on 6 January 2021. Donald Trump's supporters stormed a session of Congress to certify Joe Biden's election win. Picture: AFP.

WASHINGTON - A US Marine major was arrested on Thursday on charges of participating in the violent January 6 assault on the Capitol by supporters of former president Donald Trump, the Justice Department said.

Major Christopher Warnagiris is the first active duty military officer to be charged over the attack, in which several hundred Trump backers stormed the seat of the US legislature and shut down a session confirming Joe Biden as the winner of the November presidential election.

Warnagiris, 40, was charged with assaulting or resisting law enforcement officers, obstruction of law enforcement and obstruction of justice.

The Justice Department said it had video of Warnagiris "violently" pushing officers and forcing his way through the doors of the Capitol along with others.

He is one of 440 people charged so far in the department's investigation of the insurrection.

More than a quarter of them have been charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement.

A number, many members of anti-government and white supremacy militia groups, are also facing charges of violent conspiracy, and the Justice Department is believed to be weighing more serious sedition charges against them.

Prosecutors are still preparing the cases, and the first trial is expected to open in June.

In April, Jon Schaffer - a member of the Oath Keepers, one of the groups alleged to have led the attack - pleaded guilty to illegally entering the Capitol, and is believed to be cooperating with the investigation into other members of the group.

The presence of four serving national guardsmen and 40 military veterans among those arrested for the Capitol attack spurred the Pentagon to hold service-wide information sessions on the threat of extremism in the ranks.

In a statement, the Marine Corps confirmed the identity of Warnagiris, who worked at their base at Quantico, Virginia.

"The Marine Corps is clear on this: There is no place for racial hatred or extremism in the Marine Corps," it said.

"Our strength is derived from the individual excellence of every Marine regardless of background. Bigotry and racial extremism run contrary to our core values."

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