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DOJ Says At Least 100 More People Could Be Charged Over Capitol Attack

Pro-Trump rioters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Federal investigators say they expect even more people will be charged in connection with the insurrection.
Pro-Trump rioters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Federal investigators say they expect even more people will be charged in connection with the insurrection.

Updated March 12, 2021 at 4:45 PM ET

The Justice Department says it expects to charge at least 100 more people in connection with the storming of the Capitol, describing the investigation into the deadly attack as one of the biggest in U.S. history.

Federal prosecutors disclosed the estimate in court papers Friday as they seek more time to gather and sift through evidence in the sprawling probe before having to move cases to trial. More than 300 people have already been charged in the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob seeking to disrupt the certification of Electoral College votes.

"The investigation and prosecution of the Capitol Attack will likely be one of the largest in American history, both in terms of the number of defendants prosecuted and the nature and volume of the evidence," federal prosecutors said in a filing Friday in a case against nine alleged members or associates of the Oath Keepers paramilitary group.

Similar language appears in new filings made in other Capitol attack cases, including in cases against individual defendants. In the filings, prosecutors are requesting a 60-day deadline extension because of the scope and scale of the investigation and the mountains of evidence they have to sift through.

Prosecutors say investigators have gathered more than 15,000 hours of surveillance and body camera footage; some 1,600 electronic devices; more than 210,000 tips, many of which include digital photos or video; more than 80,000 reports and 93,000 attachments related to law enforcement interviews of suspects and witnesses.

"As the Capitol Attack investigation is still on-going, the number of defendants charged and the volume of potentially discoverable materials will only continue to grow," prosecutors said in the Oath Keepers filing. "In short, even in cases involving a single defendant, the volume of discoverable materials is likely to be significant."

That Oath Keepers case is among the most closely watched because the defendants are charged with conspiring to storm the Capitol.

At a court hearing Friday, one of the defendants, Thomas Caldwell, was ordered released pending trial. Judge Amit Mehta ordered Caldwell to be restricted to home confinement with GPS monitoring and no access to computers, smartphones or any electronic communication device, among other conditions.

"If there is any hint a violation of these conditions, you'll be right back where you are right now," Mehta warned him.

Earlier this week,prosecutors disclosed in court that they could add up to six or more defendants to the case.

Their filings suggest that investigators are scrutinizing the founder of the Oath Keepers, Stewart Rhodes.

Prosecutors have alleged in court papers that Rhodes was in direct contact before Jan. 6 and then during the Capitol attack with some of the individuals who have been charged with conspiracy.

According to the government, Rhodes was in a group chat called "DC OP: Jan 6 21" on the encrypted messaging platform Signal. Rhodes allegedly sent the group messages the day before the riot about what to bring.

"DO NOT bring in anything that can get you arrested. Leave that outside DC," Rhodes told the group, according to the government filing. He also recommended bringing a flashlight and a collapsible baton, which he called "a grey area in the law."

"I bring one. But I'm willing to take the risk because I love em," Rhodes texted the group, according to prosecutors. "Good hard gloves, eye pro, helmet. In a pinch you can grab Mechanix gloves and a batters helmet form Walmart. Bring something to put on your noggin. Anitifa likes brikes."

Prosecutors have also brought conspiracy charges against members of another extremist group, the Proud Boys, for their alleged role in the violence on Jan. 6.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.