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More than 70 charged so far over Capitol attack as FBI inundated with tips

The Guardian - Wed Jan 13 17:08

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Nearly a week on from the attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob, more than 70 people have been charged, hundreds more are expected to face arrest and prosecution, and the FBI has been inundated with more than 100,000 tips, according to authorities.

Among those charged are some of the most recognizable faces from the attack, including a self-described “QAnon Shaman”, and the man who was photographed sitting at a desk in the office of Nanci Pelosi, the Democratic speaker of the House, but in recent days, authorities have widened the net as they track people involved in the riot, with online tips helping to identify those who took part.

The continuing arrests – and the FBI’s promise that more were coming – came as a Democratic congresswoman accused some Republicans of giving “reconnaissance” tours of the Capitol, and another said she feared that her Republican colleagues would out her location as the riot took place.

Mikie Sherrill, a US congresswoman from New Jersey, said in a Facebook live broadcast that she saw “members of Congress who had groups coming through the Capitol that I saw on January 5 for reconnaissance for the next day”.

“I’m going to see that they’re held accountable,” Sherrill said.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who represents New York in the House of Representatives, said on Instagram: “I thought I was going to die” during the riot.

On Wednesday morning a man who wore a “Camp Auschwitz” sweatshirt during the riot was arrested in Virginia, after his image was widely shared on social media. CNN reported that Robert Packer, 56, was arrested and was due to appear in court in Norfolk, Virginia, on Wednesday afternoon.

A Florida firefighter was also arrested, while another man was arrested in the state after he was photographed carrying a lectern through the Capitol. On Saturday a Georgia man who had been charged with entering the Capitol killed himself after being released.

As the FBI appealed for people to help identify the rioters, at least one person said they had named family members who were in Washington. Helena Duke, from Massachusetts, responded to a video of a physical encounter in DC on 5 January, which involved her mother, with the words: “hi mom remember the time you told me I shouldn’t go to BLM protests bc they could get violent...this you?”

Shattered glass from last week’s attack on Congress by a pro-Trump mob is seen in the doors leading to the Capitol Rotunda, in Washington, on Tuesday.
Shattered glass from last week’s attack on Congress by a pro-Trump mob is seen in the doors leading to the Capitol Rotunda, in Washington, on Tuesday. Photograph: J Scott Applewhite/AP

Duke proceeded to name her mother, aunt and uncle. It was unclear if the trio took part in the riot.

On Tuesday the FBI said more than 70 people had been charged over the storming of the Capitol. The agency said it had opened more than 170 case files in connection with the riot, and had received “more than 100,000 pieces of digital media” since 6 January.

“These are only the beginning,” the acting attorney general for the District of Columbia, Michael Sherwin, said at a press conference on Tuesday. “This is not the end.”

The same day, Aaron Mostofsky, the son of a prominent New York City judge, was arrested in Brooklyn, New York. Mostofsky, 34, was charged with a felony count of theft of government property – a bulletproof police vest worth $1,905 and a riot shield valued at $265 – and released on $100,000 bail.

Mosofsky stood out during the attack for his unusual clothing. He was wearing a fur costume and carrying a wooden staff, and at points during the riot was filmed wearing a black police vest and holding a shield.

“My belief is that this election was stolen. We were cheated. I don’t think 75 people – 75 million people voted for Trump. I think it was 85 million,” Mosofsky said in an interview with CBS inside the Capitol during the siege.

“I think certain states that have been blue for a long time … were stolen, like New York.”

Nationwide, 74.2 million people voted for Trump, and he won 46.9% of the vote. Joe Biden won New York with 60.9% of the vote to Trump’s 37.8%.

In the neighboring New York City borough of Queens, Eduard Florea, a member of the far-right Proud Boys group was arrested on Tuesday, after he reportedly attempted to organize an armed caravan to travel to Washington. Florea is not believed to have taken part in the Capitol riot, NBC News said.