US Capitol riot

Nationwide manhunt on, over 170 under probe

New proof that FBI, police, White House were warned of potential violence; some lawmakers accused of complicity

Aaron Mostofsky, 34, the son of a New York judge, was seen in a viral video in furs and stolen police gear. He faces four charges. Online videos show images apparently of US Olympic swim champ Klete Keller, 38, wearing a US Olympic team jacket inside
A wanted poster for members of a pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol seen at a bus stop this week in Washington. So far, more than 70 people have been charged in connection with the riot, with more to come, law officials said. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE .
Aaron Mostofsky, 34, the son of a New York judge, was seen in a viral video in furs and stolen police gear. He faces four charges. Online videos show images apparently of US Olympic swim champ Klete Keller, 38, wearing a US Olympic team jacket inside
IN TROUBLE : Adam Johnson, 36, of Florida was seen carrying House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's lectern. He faces three felony chargesPHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE .
IN TROUBLE : Adam Johnson, 36, of Florida was seen carrying House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's lectern. He faces three felony charges
IN TROUBLE : Adam Johnson, 36, of Florida was seen carrying House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's lectern. He faces three felony chargesPHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Aaron Mostofsky, 34, the son of a New York judge, was seen in a viral video in furs and stolen police gear. He faces four charges. Online videos show images apparently of US Olympic swim champ Klete Keller, 38, wearing a US Olympic team jacket inside
IN TROUBLE : Online videos show images apparently of US Olympic swim champ Klete Keller, 38, wearing a US Olympic team jacket inside the Capitol Rotunda. Simply being there opens the door for federal unlawful entry and disorderly conduct charges.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE .

WASHINGTON • US prosecutors are ramping up the investigation into last week's riot at the Capitol, with more than 170 suspects under scrutiny and law enforcement officials planning charges of sedition and conspiracy.

They are treating the riot "like an international counter-terrorism investigation", acting US attorney in Washington Michael Sherwin said at a press conference on Tuesday.

"We're looking at everything - money, travel records. No resource will be unchecked," he said.

While officials vowed to accelerate the nationwide manhunt for hundreds of people who committed serious crimes during last week's assault on the Capitol, new evidence surfaced that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), police and White House had been warned of potential violence that day.

New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said she felt unsafe when she was taken to a secure room with other lawmakers whom she suspected "would create opportunities to allow me to be hurt".

"Many of us nearly and narrowly escaped death," she said. "There was a sense that something was wrong from the inside."

Representative Mikie Sherrill, a New Jersey Democrat, said she witnessed lawmakers giving what she believes to be "reconnaissance" tours the day earlier.

She said she plans to "see they are held accountable, and if necessary, ensure that they don't serve in Congress".

The probe is being led by an assortment of agencies, including the FBI, the Capitol Police, the US Marshals, the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the US attorney's office in Washington. All 56 FBI field offices are involved.

So far, US prosecutors have charged more than 70 people, with crimes ranging from trespassing to assault. But more serious charges - and many more cases - are coming, Mr Sherwin told reporters.

Some Justice Department investigators are focusing on the pipe bombs found near the headquarters of the Republican National Committee and the Democratic National Committee on the day of the siege, Mr Sherwin said.

The military's Joint Chiefs of Staff sent an unusual message to the entire US armed forces on Tuesday reminding them that their job was to support and defend the Constitution, and declaring that Mr Joe Biden would soon be their next commander-in-chief.

"As we have done throughout our history, the US military will obey lawful orders from civilian leadership, support civil authorities to protect lives and property, ensure public safety in accordance with the law, and remain fully committed to protecting and defending the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic," said the one-page memorandum signed by the eight senior officers who serve as the Joint Chiefs.

"We support and defend the Constitution. Any act to disrupt the constitutional process is not only against our traditions, values and oath; it is against the law."

Metal detectors were installed at the entrances to the US House for the first time on Tuesday in response to last week's riot and after a first-term Republican said she would bring her gun to Congress.

Magnetometers have been used for years at all visitor and staff entrances to the Capitol and many other federal buildings.

BLOOMBERG, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 14, 2021, with the headline 'Nationwide manhunt on, over 170 under probe'. Print Edition | Subscribe