HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The FBI and other law enforcement agencies continue to investigate and make arrests in connection with the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Law enforcement officials say a range of charges are possible against those who entered the Capitol, up to conspiracy and murder.
Jay Town, former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, said the investigation involves FBI and U.S. Attorney’s offices around the U.S.
Town said investigators face the challenge of the sheer volume of video and other evidence that is still being collected. He added the FBI and other federal agencies are skilled at “scraping” social media data, which is expected to provide a mine of material for investigators.
“They probably gave some explanation as to why they were there. ‘I just want to see what’s going on,’ vs. ‘We need to snatch and grab an elected official.’ Two very different purposes for being inside that building,” Town said. “Both of which are illegal. This will be a test, this is going to run out through the end of the year.
“We’re not going to be done with these investigations here shortly, this is going to take a long time, just because of the volume of people involved.”
The charges will address a range of conduct, including the possibility of insurrection, Town said.
“It absolutely will matter, the intent of, the purpose of, why an individual was disruptive of a session of Congress,” he said. “If it was to stop the operations, the functions of Congress at that moment, then that boils closer to an insurrection.”
About 25,000 U.S. National Guard troops are in the nation’s capital to help secure Joe Biden’s inauguration Wednesday at noon. The stakes are obviously very high. Town urged anybody with information about a person planning to do something unlawful or violent to call the FBI.
“I think the security posture will last throughout the weekend, it’s going to last for as long as the FBI and the Secret Service assess that it’s necessary,” Town said.
Barring an incident, Town expects the National Guard units to draw down fairly quickly, with forces from nearby states remaining longer, to ensure the peaceful transition.
There are plenty of hard feelings after the election and Capitol riot, but Town says Americans have to do better.
“It is imperative that we get back to a place in the United States where we can disagree fundamentally, about very important topics, very important issues, but at the same time, be able to do so peacefully,” he said. “This is how political debate, political speech was meant by our forefathers, it’s written in our constitution, and how it really has operated for our existence as a nation. We have to get back to that point.
“Violent insurrection is not patriotic, it’s unlawful, it’s illegal and it’s disgusting.”