The FBI has turned up no evidence that the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol was a coordinated attempt to launch an insurrection against the United States government by overturning the results of the presidential election, according to officials who spoke to Reuters Friday.
“The FBI at this point believes the violence was not centrally coordinated by far-right groups or prominent supporters of then-President Donald Trump,” Reuters reports.
Further, “the FBI has so far found no evidence that [Trump] or people directly around him were involved in organizing the violence.”
Of the more than 570 individuals who have been arrested on charges related to the riot, “Ninety to ninety-five percent of these are one-off cases,” said a former senior law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation. “Then you have five percent, maybe, of these militia groups that were more closely organized. But there was no grand scheme with Roger Stone and Alex Jones and all of these people to storm the Capitol and take hostages.”
Of those “militia groups,” FBI investigators did find that some groups like the Oath Keepers or the Proud Boys allegedly planned to break into the Capitol. “But they found no evidence that the groups had serious plans about what to do if they made it inside,” Reuters’ sources said.
The FBI has filed conspiracy charges against 40 individuals who allegedly had “engaged in some degree of planning” before the riot, but prosecutors “have steered clear of more serious, politically-loaded charges that the sources said had been initially discussed by prosecutors, such as seditious conspiracy or racketeering.”
With no evidence of a centrally coordinated plot to overthrow the U.S. government, “conspiracy charges that have been filed allege that defendants discussed their plans in the weeks before the attack and worked together on the day itself. But prosecutors have not alleged that this activity was part of a broader plot.”
The revelations run counter to the popular media narrative that former President Donald Trump incited an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol to stay in power after losing the election to Joe Biden.
On. Jan. 6, Trump
gave a speech at a “Save America” rally at the Capitol in which he repeated his various claims about the election being stolen and urged then-Vice President Mike Pence to intervene during the Joint Session of Congress and reject the Electoral College results from several contested states.
“I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard,” Trump said.
But contrary to the president’s stated desire for peaceful protest, violence broke out when a mob of Trump’s supporters
breached security at the Capitol building and trespassed inside, forcing members of Congress to evacuate. More than 100 police officers were injured in violent altercations with members of the mob. Rioters entered congressional offices, stole government property, and searched the building looking for lawmakers.
One woman, Ashli Babbitt, was
shot and killed by a Capitol Police officer during the riot.
National headlines blamed Trump for fomenting the violence by making false claims about the election. Democrats in Congress impeached Trump on charges of “incitement of insurrection,” but the former president was
acquitted by Senate vote.
The FBI’s findings will prove an obstacle to left-wing Democrats on the House Select Committee investigating the events of Jan. 6 who seek to prove that Trump and his Republican allies had a hand in organizing the riot. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has suggested that the committee will investigate GOP lawmakers who supported Trump’s effort to have the Electoral College results rejected.
But without evidence of a larger conspiracy, attempts to tie Republicans to an insurrection are purely political.