National Security

FBI asked all offices to canvas for info on DNC, RNC pipe bombs

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The FBI last month sent a message to all of its field offices asking them to canvas their informants for any help in solving the more than year-old case into who placed pipe bombs near Democratic and Republican party headquarters the morning of Jan. 6, 2021.

The detail was revealed in a letter from Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) to the FBI asking for a briefing on the status of the lingering case.

The Feb. 7 FBI callout to its field offices asks agents to track down “sources reporting on all [types of] threats” because the suspect’s “motive and ideology remain unknown.”

While not an entirely unusual approach, the request is an indication the case has largely stalled, said Michael German, a former FBI special agent who did undercover work on domestic terrorism cases.

“It’s not atypical in an important case that doesn’t have identified suspects for the case agent or squad supervisor to send out a memorandum asking all agents to canvas their sources. This happened regularly during the ‘Unabomber’ investigation until Ted Kaczynski was ultimately identified,” said German, who is now a fellow at the Brennan Center.

The FBI made similar callouts when investigating the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the wave of anthrax-laced envelopes that followed.

“But it’s often an indication that the investigation has stalled and is seeking alternative sources of information to redirect the case in a different direction,” German said.

The FBI did not immediately respond to request for comment. 

The FBI has already previously turned to the public for help in the case, releasing last September new video footage of the suspect and a map outlining their path that morning.  

Some have theorized the pipe bombs, placed outside each party’s national headquarters, were planted as a diversion to tie up police resources prior to Trump supporters’ storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Reporting has since revealed that Vice President Harris was inside the Democratic National Committee headquarters when the bomb was discovered. 

German said the FBI would be unlikely to make a callout for canvassing from its field offices if it was close to making an arrest in the case, as such memos often elicit a substantial volume of information, giving a suspect’s defense attorney a window to “challenge why some kooky leads weren’t chased down to the ground.”

“It’s not that they haven’t made progress. I’m sure they’ve chased thousands of leads and are working every piece of forensic evidence to its final conclusion. I’m sure they are working very hard on it, but sometimes, without a suspect, you run out and you need additional help,” German said.

And he said the effort can bring in new helpful evidence: “The reason they do it is it sometimes works.”

Tags Capitol riot DNC Jan. 6 panel Jim Jordan RNC

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