Washington (CNN) — A week after the deadly insurrection on Capitol Hill, there are still more questions than answers about whether a lawmaker or police officer aided the pro-Trump agitators.
The idea of an insurrection is unheard of in modern American history, and the possibility that legislators or allies within the Capitol might have helped contribute to the uncertainty and concern about the event and what is to come.
At least one organizer of the protest said it coordinated with three Republicans in the House of Representatives. There are unverified allegations of a “reconnaissance” mission the day before the attack. And more than a dozen US Capitol Police officers are under internal investigation for allegedly aiding the rioters.
While President Donald Trump’s role in inciting violence is clear, there are some early indications and accusations that other people within the Capitol may have actively aided the mob.
Republicans in the House of Representatives, under scrutiny
Ali Alexander, a right-wing conspiracy theorist who led one of the groups in the “Stop The Steal” march, claimed in a live video that he planned the rally preceding the riot with three Republican lawmakers: Arizona Representatives Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs and Alabama Representative Mo Brooks.
Brooks spoke at the rally before Trump took the stage, urging the crowd to “start jotting down names and kicking butt.” In a 2,800-word statement about his participation, Brooks said he was just telling the crowd to defend themselves at the polls. (Brooks also revealed that a White House official called him a day earlier and invited him to speak at the rally.)
CNN previously reported that Gosar became involved with Alexander’s group in recent months. A Biggs spokesperson told CNN he never knew or worked with Alexander.
Alexander said he hoped his “mob” would pressure lawmakers to block President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the Electoral College. After the riot was quelled, all three lawmakers voted to eliminate Biden’s electoral votes from Arizona and Pennsylvania. His effort failed.
“Those three members of Congress are going to need to find lawyers quickly,” former Republican Rep. Charlie Dent, a CNN contributor, told CNN’s Erin Burnett on Wednesday. And he added that he believes lawmakers will face scrutiny from federal prosecutors and the House Ethics Committee.
Alleged ‘reconnaissance’ mission
Rep. Mikie Sherrill, a Democrat from New Jersey, opened the controversy Tuesday night when she accused unidentified Republican lawmakers of aiding the rioters by taking them to Capitol Hill a day earlier for some kind of “reconnaissance” mission. CNN has yet to verify those allegations.
Sherrill said there were “members of Congress who had groups going through the Capitol, who I saw on January 5, to reconnoitre for the next day.” CNN has repeatedly asked Sherrill’s office for details about his accusation, but they have not provided any additional information.
She is a former Navy helicopter pilot and federal prosecutor, and is seen as a moderate member of the Democratic caucus, not a swagger who would make meritless accusations. He said Wednesday that he was “requesting an investigation” from “certain agencies,” allegedly to seek possible coordination between Republican lawmakers and the agitators.
Separately, Republican Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert came under fire for tweeting about the whereabouts of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi while the assault was taking place. Boebert, who is affiliated with the QAnon movement and regularly spreads right-wing conspiracy theories, tweeted that Pelosi had been “taken off camera” while the rioters were still in the building.
Prosecutors investigate conspiracy charges
More than 70 people have already been charged with federal crimes related to the attack. Most of the publicly disclosed cases involve people who fought with police officers inside the Capitol, made violent threats against Democrats, or were found near the compound with weapons or bombs.
Prosecutors have not yet accused any of Trump’s supporters of coordinating with Republican lawmakers or allied police officers, but the investigation is still in its early stages.
“We are seeing significant cases of serious crimes related to sedition and conspiracy,” Michael Sherwin, Washington’s acting federal prosecutor, told reporters, without specifically saying whether any legislators or law enforcement officials were under investigation.
But Sherwin added: “Our office organized a task force made up of senior national security prosecutors and public corruption prosecutors. His only orders from me are to build charges of sedition and conspiracy related to the most heinous acts that occurred on Capitol Hill.
Internal collaboration of the Police and the Army
At least two US Capitol Police officers have already been suspended, and at least 10 more are under investigation, for allegedly playing some kind of role in the insurrection, CNN reported.
In the immediate aftermath of the attack, there was speculation that some Allied police may have assisted the rioters, given the fact that the crowd seemed to mill through the Capitol complex with little resistance. One agitator even posed for a selfie with a policeman.
US military and former military personnel also participated in the insurrection, according to press reports and court records. One of the men who infiltrated the Senate during the attack is a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, and the Army is reportedly investigating a psychological operations officer who led a group of North Carolinians to the Trump rally before the attack.
Ashli Babbitt, the 35-year-old woman fatally shot by police while trying to enter the House of Representatives, was an Air Force veteran later consumed by conspiracy theories.
CNN’s Daniella Diaz and Annie Grayer contributed to this story.