By Nikhila Natarajan
New York, Jan 13 (IANS) Less than a week after a deadly January 6 attack on the US Capitol by a pro Trump mob, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is already poring over 100,000 pieces of digital media to piece together the blow by blow of the mayhem which killed 5 people, including a police officer.
The US Justice Department has created a strike force to examine the possibility of sedition charges, which could carry up to 20 years in prison. Officials are examining money flow and movement leading up to the attack.
As stunning new evidence continues to trickle in, the FBI has already opened 170 cases and is following thousands of witnesses in what it calls a probe of “unprecedented” scope and scale.
The acting US Attorney for the District of Columbia Michael Sherwin briefed the nation for the first time since the January 6 attack.
His remarks offer the most substantial details yet on what exactly happened at around noon on the day that Congress had gathered to certify the election of Joe Biden as US president-elect.
Excerpts from the briefing tell us exactly where things stand, barely a week from Inauguration Day which now has the most heightened security cover in the history of political transitions in America.
Below are direct quotes from Sherwin’s remarks which explain the sheer scale of what much of the world saw on screens.
“We have already opened more than 170 subject files meaning these individuals have been identified as potential persons that committed crimes on the Capitol grounds inside and outside. Of those 170 cases that have already been opened and I anticipate that’s going to grow to the hundreds in the next coming weeks, we’ve already charged over 70 cases, and again that number I suspect is going to grow into the hundreds.”
“The range of criminal conduct is really, I think, again, unmatched in any type of scenario that we’ve seen the FBI or the DOJ we’re looking at everything from simple trespass to theft of mail to theft of digital devices with inside the Capitol, to assault on local officers federal officers both outside and inside the Capitol, to the theft of potential national security information or national defense information to felony murder, and even civil rights excessive force investigation so just the gamut of cases and criminal conduct, we’re looking at is really mind blowing.”
“The scope and scale of this investigation in these cases are really unprecedented not only in FBI history but probably DOJ history in which essentially the capital grounds outside and inside are essentially a crime scene and scale in which we have literally thousands of potential witnesses and a scenario in which we’re going to have hundreds of criminal cases. Just to frame things, the enormity of this investigation is going to take a lot of work and a lot of effort and this is not going to be solved overnight. It’s not going to be solved within the coming weeks, it’s not going to be solved within the coming months. This is going to be a long term investigation…everyone is in for the long haul.”
“Since our call for tips, videos and pictures. We have received more than 100,000 pieces of digital media, which is absolutely fantastic. And we are scouring every one for investigative and intelligence leads.”
“I want to stress that the FBI has a long memory. Our partners are on the streets investigating leads, not only here in the DC area, but also across the country through the FBI’s 56 field offices. Agents from our local field offices will be knocking on your door, if we find out that you are part of the criminal activity at the Capitol.”
“When criminal conduct occurs we try to obviously charge people as soon as possible. So when these actors left the Capitol, the marching orders by federal law enforcement was to find and charge these individuals as fast as possible. So we look for the most simple charge we could file as quick as possible. This is only the beginning. So after these criminal charges are filed, that allows law enforcement across the United States to arrest people from Dallas to Arkansas to Nashville to Cleveland, to Jacksonville – that’s what’s happened over the past several days. It’s really quite incredible. Now after those charges are filed then, we have the ability to then indict these individuals on more significant charges and that’s exactly what has happened.”
By Nikhila Natarajan