Feds: Capitol riot cases to soar past 300; 'bread crumbs' of evidence so far point to coordinated assault

Kevin Johnson and Nicholas Wu, USA TODAY
·3 min read

The soaring number of Capitol riot investigations was expected to top 300 by Friday, as the sprawling inquiry continued to be aided by a deluge of photographs and video evidence, federal authorities said Friday.

While officials said they were "making progress on all fronts," D.C. U.S. Attorney Michael Sherwin said that authorities have so far found only "bread crumbs" of evidence suggesting that the assault was coordinated.

Sherwin, who is overseeing the investigation, said the search for possible "command and control" of the violent mob represented a "top-tier" priority for investigators, adding that a full review of the group's organization could "take weeks, if not months."

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A Capitol Police officer is being hailed a hero after drawing rioters away from the Senate floor.
A Capitol Police officer is being hailed a hero after drawing rioters away from the Senate floor.

Late Thursday, federal prosecutors in Arizona had contended in court documents that there was "strong evidence" that rioters had intended to apprehend and "assassinate elected officials." But Sherwin walked back that claim Friday, saying there was "no direct evidence of kill and capture teams" so far.

With the rioters being pursued across the country, Sherwin said authorities were beginning to see suspects turn themselves in. Some of them, he said, had hired attorneys and were offering to provide information on fellow attackers.

In some instances, investigators have been receiving tips from family members and friends with information about suspects' involvement.

"Yes, some are providing cooperation," Sherwin said, "but we're not cutting deals with anyone."

Asked whether authorities are reviewing whether lawmakers may have aided rioters by providing tours of the Capitol prior to the assault, Assistant FBI Director Steven D'Antuono said only that investigators are "looking at every piece of the puzzle."

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In the days since the insurrection, Democrats have called for formal investigations, citing an unusual uptick in visitors sporting Trump gear the day before the assault.

On Friday, the U.S. Capitol Police acknowledged that had launched their own inquiry.

"The matter is under investigation," Capitol Police spokesperson Eva Malecki said.

The investigation comes after a group of more than 30 House Democrats sent a letter to Capitol Hill law enforcement officials on Jan. 13, asking for them review what they deemed as suspicious groups in the Capitol leading up to the riot.

The rioters at the Capitol on Jan. 6 had an "unusually detailed" knowledge of the Capitol's layout, the lawmakers said in their letter, and they wanted potential ties between the tour groups and the riot to be investigated.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday members of Congress could face charges if it were found they "aided and abetted" the riot.

"Let's be clear, there's no way those groups could have gotten into the Capitol without a Member of Congress or a staff member of a member of Congress," said U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill, a Democrat from New Jersey.

With more than 100 riot suspects arrested so far, officials credited the public with providing extraordinary assistance. Earlier this week, D'Antuono said investigators had received 100,000 photographs, videos and other pieces of digital information. By Friday, the cache of information topped 140,000.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Feds: Capitol riot cases to top 300; little evidence of coordination