FBI steps up efforts to build conspiracy case in Capitol riot
The FBI is stepping up its efforts to build a possible conspiracy case after authorities have arrested more than 150 people for their alleged role in the Capitol riot, law enforcement officials said Tuesday.
Federal officials indicated on a press call that their next steps in prosecuting alleged participants will involve using the current charges to gather more information on suspects and the riot and determine whether a larger conspiracy case could be pursued.
Michael Sherwin, the acting U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C., told reporters on a press call that law enforcement will need to figure out if the Capitol riot was coordinated before Jan. 6 and whether certain groups or individuals were involved in planning.
“We are going to reach a plateau in the very near future and it will involve looking at the more complicated conspiracy cases,” Sherwin said.
The acting U.S. attorney added that investigators will examine “possible coordination among militia groups from different states that had a plan to travel here before the sixth to engage in criminal conduct.”
As of Tuesday, prosecutors have already charged several of the alleged riot participants with conspiracy, including in three cases in which they argue the suspects acted in an “organized and practiced fashion” and allegedly suggested potentially gassing lawmakers in the Capitol, according to The Wall Street Journal.
FBI Assistant Director in Charge Steven D’Antuono told reporters on Tuesday’s call that the FBI has received more than 200,000 digital media tips from the public throughout their investigation of the riots.
With those tips and other research and evidence, D’Antuono said the FBI has identified more than 400 suspects allegedly involved with the Capitol raid and assault on officers and has arrested about 135 people, “with many more being identified and charged every day.”
Lawyers defending the suspects are likely to say their clients took instruction from former President Trump, who called on his supporters to flock to D.C. to protest Congress’s certification of President Biden’s election win.
In a speech to demonstrators, the former president instructed them to march to the Capitol, which rioters raided, resulting in five deaths, including a Capitol Police officer.
The FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are offering a $75,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest of the people responsible for planting the pipe bombs at the Republican and Democratic national committees near the Capitol that day.
Current and former law enforcement officials told the Journal that the investigation is one of the most expansive in the FBI’s recent history and comparable to their probes into the Oklahoma City bombing and the Boston Marathon bombing.