WASHINGTON — FBI agents are scouring more than 100,000 digital media files, and federal prosecutors have spent hours presenting felony cases to a Washington grand jury, as they seek to bring to justice those who committed crimes in the riot at the Capitol, authorities said Tuesday.
In a briefing with reporters, Michael Sherwin, the acting U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, and Steven D'Antuono, head of the FBI's Washington field office, discussed the sprawling criminal investigation designed to catch those who broke the law, but said little about the intelligence and security failures that allowed the Capitol to be overrun.
They said that the FBI had opened 160 case files, and that "this is only the beginning," as Sherwin put it, outlining a large number of serious crimes that carry decadeslong prison terms. The FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms are investigating, for example, who put two pipe bombs outside the Capitol with timers and detonators.
Sherwin said the diversity of criminal conduct being examined is "mind blowing," including trespassing, theft of mail, and assaults on officers to theft of national security information, civil rights crimes and felony murder.
He said he formed a strike force of prosecutors who are focusing only on the organizers and the most heinous crimes, and another to focus on assaults on the media.
"People are going to be shocked" at the sum total of the charges, he said.
D'Antuono, who told reporters Friday that the FBI had no intelligence suggesting violence was brewing before Jan. 6, reversed himself and acknowledged that the bureau did, in fact, have some intelligence. The bureau identified extremists who intended to travel to Washington and sought to stop them, he said, confirming a story first reported Sunday by NBC News.
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He said information about possible violence, gleaned from social media and human sources, was shared through a group known as the Joint Terrorism Task Force, which includes the Metropolitan (D.C.) Police and Capitol Police. But a senior FBI official confirmed that the bureau did not issue a Joint Intelligence Bulletin, a formal report describing threat information that circulates to local law enforcement agencies.