FBI probing whether Capitol rioters sought to harm lawmakers: report
The FBI is reportedly investigating whether any rioters who entered the Capitol this week sought to go beyond disrupting Congress’s certification of the Electoral College results and intended to harm lawmakers or their staffs.
The Washington Post first reported the inquiry, citing people familiar with the investigation. Multiple people at the Capitol on Wednesday were photographed holding zip ties, the plastic version of handcuffs, while one arrested man allegedly carried a pistol while on the grounds of the Capitol.
The Post noted that evidence has not emerged that the people spotted with the plastic restraints sought to take hostages, but the newspaper reported that officials are looking through evidence to see if any of those individuals had plans to kill or capture officials in the federal building.
“We’re not looking at this as a grand conspiracy, but we are interested in learning what people would do with things like zip ties,” an unnamed law enforcement official told the Post, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the investigation.
Sources told the Post that one possible explanation could be that several of those who stormed the Capitol on Wednesday may be current or former law enforcement officers or military personnel.
FBI and Justice Department officials said Friday that they are pooling together all resources for the case, which involves hundreds of potential suspects.
The riot, which saw a mob of Trump supporters overrun Capitol Police and ransack offices and destroy relics throughout the historic building, now has FBI agents in all 56 field offices across the country pursuing leads on possible suspects, according to the Post.
“Just because you’ve left the D.C. region, you can still expect a knock on the door if we find out you were part of criminal activity in the Capitol,” Steven D’Antuono, head of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, told the newspaper.
The FBI declined to comment when contacted by The Hill, citing the ongoing nature of the investigation.
Dozens of people have already been arrested in connection with Wednesday’s riots. Five people died amid the chaos on Capitol Hill, including a woman who was shot by a Capitol Police officer and an officer who died after suffering injuries while responding to the rioting.
FBI Director Christopher Wray on Thursday vowed to “hold accountable those who participated in yesterday’s siege of the Capitol.”
“The violence and destruction of property at the U.S. Capitol building yesterday showed a blatant and appalling disregard for our institutions of government and the orderly administration of the democratic process,” Wray said in a statement at the time.
Officials from the U.S. attorney’s office and the FBI’s Washington Field Office said Friday that those charged so far included a Republican West Virginia legislator who had reportedly filmed himself storming the Capitol and an Arkansas man who is accused of unlawfully entering House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) office and stealing public property as well as violent and disorderly conduct.