More than a year since rioters attacked the Capitol, the person responsible for planting pipe bombs in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, D.C. remains on the loose.
Someone cloaked in a hoodie and covered in a mask, glasses and gloves was seen on camera planting bombs near the Democratic National Committee and Republican National Committee on Jan. 5, 2021, the night before the assault on the Capitol, According to CBS News.
CBS reported that authorities have reviewed nearly 40,000 video files and interviewed over 900 people to identify the suspect.
Authorities have tried to track the suspect’s route near the Capitol, but Steven D’Antuono, the FBI’s lead agent in Washington, D.C., said authorities have struggled to identify the suspect because, “the individual was covered from head to toe.”
D’Antuono told CBS News that even though they were disabled before anyone was hurt, the bombs could have killed many.
“They could have exploded.” he said. “They could have caused severe injury or death.”
So far, 725 people across the country have been charged for their roles in the Jan. 6 attacks. Of those charged, 325 defendants were charged with felonies, 20 of whom have pleaded guilty.
Additionally, 145 people have pleaded guilty to misdemeanors related to the attacks.
In an address to the nation ahead of the one-year anniversary of the Capitol Assault on Jan. 6, 2021, the Department of Justice’s Attorney General Merrick Garland vowed to hold accountable those responsible for the riots, “whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy.
“We will follow the facts wherever they lead,” he said in a much-anticipated address ahead of the anniversary of the attacks, adding that the investigation related to the Jan. 6 insurrection is “one of the largest, most complex, and most resource-intensive investigations in our history.”
“In complex cases, initial charges are often less severe than later charged offenses,” Garland explained. “This is purposeful, as investigators methodically collect and sift through more evidence.”
He said that officers who attacked or destroyed the Capitol were facing more serious charges than those who cooperated.
The Department of Justice issued over 5,000 subpoenas or search warrants since the attacks. They also seized 2,000 devices and sifted through 20,000 hours of footage.
Garland clarified that they don’t base any conclusions on partisan lines.
We must gather the evidence in order to hold those responsible for crimes accountable. We adhere to the physical evidence. We follow the digital evidence. We follow the money,” he said. “But most important, we follow the facts — not an agenda or an assumption.”
Garland also emphasized that the Department of Justice’s role in protecting democracy continues, and offered a big-picture look at the ramifications of what has occurred in recent years, including the many instances of violence faced by teachers, airline staff, police officers and journalists in the last year.
While he also defended the First Amendment right to express a view “no matter how extreme,”Garland also stressed that the First Amendment does not protect that right if there is a danger of violence. He cited the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
“In a democracy, people must not employ violence or unlawful threats of violence to affect that outcome,” Garland said. “Citizens must not be intimidated from exercising their constitutional rights to free expression and association by such unlawful conduct.”
He cited instances in which members of Congress were threatened with firearms, or had their families threatened, and went on to speak about Judge Esther Salas, the New Jersey federal judge whose son was murdered and husband wounded.
Garland also discussed recent legislation in several states that has hindered people’s ability to vote, including practices that make voting more difficult to redistricting maps for minorities and abnormal post-election audits.
He then asserted the Justice Department’s commitment to protect voting rights, despite “unfounded claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election.”
“All Americans are entitled to free, fair and secure elections that ensure they can select the representative of their choice,”He said.