The idea of a revolt is unheard of in modern American history, and the possibility that lawmakers or allies inside the Capitol only helped contributes to the uncertainty and concern about the event and what is to come.
At least one protest organizer said he coordinated with three House Republicans. There are unconfirmed allegations of a “reconnaissance” mission one day before the attack. And more than a dozen U.S. police officers in the Capitol are under internal investigation for allegedly helping insurgents.
While President Donald Trump’s role in inciting violence is clear, there are some early indications and accusations that other insiders may have helped the mob more.
Ali Alexander, a right-wing conspiracy theorist who led one of the “Stop The Steal” groups, claimed in a livestream video that he was planning the demonstration that preceded the uprising with three GOP lawmakers: Reps. Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs of Arizona, and rep. Mo Brooks from Alabama.
Brooks spoke at the demonstration before Trump took the stage, urging spectators to “start taking names down and kicking ass.” In a 2,800-word statement about his involvement, Brooks said he only asked the crowd to fight back at the ballot. (Brooks also revealed that a White House official called him a day earlier and invited him to speak at the demonstration.)
CNN previously reported that Gosar had joined Alexander’s group in recent months. A spokesman for Biggs told CNN he had never met or worked with Alexander.
Alexander said he hoped his “mob” would pressure lawmakers to block the election of President-elect Joe Biden through the Electoral College. After the uprising was called off, the three lawmakers voted to cast Biden’s ballot from Arizona and Pennsylvania. Their efforts failed.
“These three members of Congress will have to advocate very quickly,” the former GOP rep said. Charlie Dent, a CNN contributor, to CNN’s Erin Burnett on Wednesday, adding that he believes lawmakers will be investigated by federal prosecutors and the House Ethics Committee.
Alleged ‘reconnaissance mission’
Rep. Mikie Sherrill, a New Jersey Democrat, made waves Tuesday night when she accused unnamed Republican lawmakers of helping rebels by bringing them into the Capitol a day earlier for some sort of “reconnaissance” mission. CNN has not yet confirmed these allegations.
Sherrill said there were “members of Congress who had groups coming through the Capitol that I saw on Jan. 5 for reconnaissance the next day.” CNN has repeatedly asked Sherrill’s office for details of her accusation, but they have not provided further information.
She is a former naval helicopter pilot and federal prosecutor and is considered a moderate member of the Democratic Partnership and not a firefighter who would charge without merit. She said Wednesday she was “requesting an investigation” with “certain agencies,” presumably to investigate possible coordination between Republican lawmakers and rebels.
Separately, the Republican rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado criticized for tweeting about the residence of House President Nancy Pelosi while the attack unfolded. Boebert, who is affiliated with the QAnon movement and regularly disseminates right-wing conspiracy theories, tweeted that Pelosi had been “removed from (the house’s) chambers” while rebels were still in the building.
Prosecutors are investigating allegations of conspiracy
More than 70 people have already been charged with federal crimes related to the attack. Most of the published cases involve people who fought with police officers inside the Capitol, came with violent threats against Democrats or were found near the complex with weapons or bombs.
Prosecutors have not yet accused any of these Trump supporters of coordinating with Republican lawmakers or sympathetic police officers, but the massive investigation is still in its early stages.
“We are looking at significant criminal cases related to agitation and conspiracy,” Michael Sherwin, acting U.S. attorney for Washington, DC, told reporters Tuesday without specifically saying whether any lawmakers or law enforcement members were under investigation.
But Sherwin added: “Our office organized a strike force with very high-ranking national security prosecutors and public corruption prosecutors. Their only marching order from me is to erect soluble and conspiracy charges in connection with the most heinous acts that took place in the Capitol.”
Insider assistance from police and military
At least two U.S. police officers in the Capitol have already been suspended, and at least ten more are under investigation for having played some role in the uprising, CNN reported.
There was immediate speculation after the attack that some sympathetic police officers might have helped the rebels, given the fact that the violent and at times violent crowd seemed to be pounding around the Capitol complex with little resistance. A rioter even posed for a selfie with an officer.
Current and former U.S. military members also participated in the uprising, according to news reports and court records. One of the men who infiltrated the Senate base during the attack is a retired lieutenant colonel, and the army is said to be investigating a psychological operations officer who led a group of North Carolines to the Trump rally before the attack.
Ashli Babbitt, the 35-year-old woman who was shot dead by police while trying to break into the house chamber, was an air force veteran who was later devoured by conspiracy theories.
CNN’s Daniella Diaz and Annie Grayer contributed to this story.