Federal law enforcement officials investigating the Capitol insurrection warned on Friday that it could take months before “the full puzzle” of what happened on Jan. 6 is put together.
“We are taking every piece that we possibly can to put that puzzle together,” said Steven D’Antuono, special agent in charge of the FBI D.C. field office.
In response to a question about whether any lawmakers were involved in planning for the riot, D’Antuono said that the FBI is trying to get “a true picture of what happened that day — on the 6th, before the 6th, and after the 6th.”
Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Mike Sherwin said that 275 case files were currently open relating to the insurrection attempt, and that he expected more than 300 case files to be opened by the end of the day.
He added that while several rioters had turned themselves in to federal authorities — in some cases with defense lawyers present — the DOJ was not “cutting deals.”
“We’re trying to really focus on some of the violent offenders, both inside and outside the Capitol,” Sherwin said.
The Jan. 6 attempt at blocking the formalization of Biden’s victory in the presidential election left five dead. D’Antuono said that the FBI has identified 278 suspects “involved in criminal activity inside and around the Capitol,” and added that the bureau was making progress in the case of two pipe bombs sent to the RNC and DNC that day.
“We’re methodically following all the leads,” he said.
Evidence has begun to emerge over the past week suggesting that some of the pro-Trump participants in the insurrection coordinated with each other and had plans going in.
That claim was buttressed Wednesday morning by a federal court filing which claimed that the mob wanted to “capture and assassinate elected officials.”
Sherwin partly walked that claim back during the press conference, saying that “we don’t have any direct evidence of kill-capture teams.”
“What makes this case unprecedented, unusual, and complex is that after the event. thousands of people went back to their home districts,” Sherwin added. “That has complicated things.”
He added that the first dozens of cases that had been brought were mainly “reactive,” going after people who broadcast their own activity online or where the FBI had a solid tip.
He added that there were “breadcrumbs of information around coordination” but that “this is going to take weeks if not months to find out the actual motivations of some of those groups.”
“That is a tier one top priority to see whether there was this overarching command and control, whether there were these organized teams to breach the Capitol and accomplish some type of mission inside the Capitol,” he added.