More than 170 investigative files have been opened into the Capitol Hill riot in support of President Donald Trump that left five people dead last week, U.S. law enforcement officials said on Tuesday.
More than 70 charges, ranging from trespassing misdemeanor to weapons felony charges, have also been filed to date, said FBI deputy director in charge of the Washington Field Office Steven D’Antuono to journalists during a press briefing on Tuesday afternoon.
“We have received over 100,000 digital media. We are scouring everyone looking for investigative and intelligence leads, ”D’Antuono said.
A pro-Trump mob entered the Capitol building on Jan.6 as a joint session of Congress convened to certify the electoral victory of President-elect Joe Biden. Five people, including a police officer from Washington, DC, died in the incident.
Trump has faced numerous calls to resign for urging his supporters to speech before the Capitol was violated, but he remained defiant on Tuesday, shirking responsibility for what happened and rejecting a push from Democrats to remove him.
He said there was “enormous anger” over the congressional impeachment efforts, which could take place as early as Wednesday, and called it “the continuation of the biggest witch hunt in political history. “.
Since the riot, social media giants Twitter and Facebook have suspended Trump accounts on their platforms to stop further inducements.
Acting U.S. District Attorney for the District of Columbia Michael Sherwin, who works with the FBI to apprehend and charge suspected rioters, told the press conference that the 70 charges so far are “just the start ”.
“That number will grow into the hundreds,” Sherwin said.
He added that a task force was investigating possible charges of conspiracy and sedition, in addition to those already filed.
“Considering the enormity of the actors that we have seen… the range of criminal behavior is unparalleled,” he said.
Mike Hanna of Al Jazeera, of Washington, DC, said the FBI had described his investigation as “absolutely unprecedented” in scope.
“The FBI and the Department of Justice [are] to treat the Capitol, both on its grounds and indoors, like a crime scene, ”Hanna reported, adding that the investigation would likely take months or more.
D’Antuono said the FBI will continue to work with local law enforcement and office field agents across the United States to apprehend the suspects.
“Even if you’ve left DC, officers from our local offices are going to knock on your door,” he said.
Meanwhile, the United States Army Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a joint post Tuesday that the riot “was a direct attack” on the United States Congress, the Capitol building and the country’s constitutional process, Reuters news agency reported.
In an internal troop memo, the seven generals and an admiral said the US military remains committed to protecting and defending the Constitution and that Biden will be inaugurated on January 20.
“The rights to freedom of expression and assembly do not give anyone the right to resort to violence, sedition and insurgency,” the memo read, seen by Reuters.
“Any act aimed at disrupting the constitutional process is not only contrary to our traditions, our values and our oath; it is against the law. “
The FBI Monday warned possible armed protests in all 50 states and the U.S. capital in the days leading up to Biden’s inauguration. Asset authorized a declaration of a state of emergency for Washington, DC in response to the situation.