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Managing Capitol riot evidence is a huge chore, prosecutors say

Government prosecutors have hired a contractor to tackle the logistical challenge.
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WASHINGTON — Government lawyers said Monday that investigating and prosecuting the Capitol riot cases is not only the largest such effort in American history but also presents a huge logistical challenge in sharing evidence with attorneys for the hundreds of defendants who face criminal charges.

Prosecutors are required by law to disclose evidence that could help a defendant, in a process known as pre-trial discovery.

Some of what the evidence includes is obvious, like the thousands of hours of video from surveillance and police body cameras, and material posted online by people who were in the Capitol.

But the voluminous evidence also includes the results of search warrants for all the cellphones that were in the Capitol during the riot, the more than 1 million posts sent to the conservative social media outlet Parler, the contents of cellphones surrendered by defendants or obtained through search warrants, and material gained through more than 6,000 grand jury subpoenas.

Managing all of this, and making sure defense lawyers get information relevant to them, is a daunting task, said Brandon Regan, an assistant U.S. attorney. In a court document filed Monday, he said the U.S. attorney's office in Washington has hired a private contractor, Deloitte Financial Advisory Services, to assemble relevant evidence so that it is available to defense lawyers in a format they can use.

He said defense lawyers have, for example, asked about "investigations into officers who were alleged to have been complicit in the January 6 Capitol Breach." Prosecutors have received copies of investigations into officer conduct, "have finished reviewing them, and plan to disclose the relevant materials shortly," Regan said.

That wording strongly suggested that no criminal charges would be filed against any of those officers, because the government wouldn't contemplate sharing the material with defense lawyers before any charges against the police were filed.

Capitol Police said in February that 35 officers were under investigation for their actions during the riot, and six were suspended with pay.

As of Monday, 526 people had been charged in federal court in connection with the Capitol riot, according to figures compiled by NBC News. An additional 26 charges were filed in a separate District of Columbia court.