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Where The Investigation Stands Into The Jan. 6 Insurrection

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

It was six months ago today that a mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol. That deadly event stunned the nation and the world. It led to Donald Trump's second impeachment, and it spurred a massive federal investigation. NPR justice correspondent Ryan Lucas joins us to bring us up to speed on where things stand now. Hi, Ryan.

RYAN LUCAS, BYLINE: Good morning, Leila.

FADEL: So we all remember the violent and shocking scenes of January 6. But six months later, Ryan, what's the status of the investigation?

LUCAS: Well, I've said it before, but it's worth repeating. This is a massive, massive investigation. Prosecutors have said it's likely to be one of the largest in American history. The U.S. attorney's office here in Washington, D.C., is leading the prosecutions. They've brought in government lawyers from other offices to help out with the case load. I'm told the FBI's Washington field office has agents from elsewhere rotating in to help out. The federal district court in D.C. is up to its ears in cases. Numbers also give a sense of this. Officials say more than 500 people have been arrested in connection with the attack on the Capitol so far, and more people are arrested every week. So it is still very much an active investigation.

FADEL: Now, a handful of the Capitol riot defendants have pleaded guilty so far. What have we learned from those guilty pleas?

LUCAS: Well, they provide a potential roadmap of how a lot of these January 6 cases are likely to end because remember, most federal cases do indeed end in a plea. There's one person who has pleaded guilty and been sentenced so far. That's Anna Morgan-Lloyd, a 49-year-old woman from Indiana. She pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of picketing, parading or demonstrating in the Capitol. She was sentenced to three years probation and 120 hours of community service but no jail time.

I've talked to several attorneys who are defending January 6 clients, and they think that sentence is likely a bellwether for other capital defendants who, like Morgan-Lloyd, weren't violent. They just kind of wandered into the Capitol on January 6, took some photos in the hallways and the rotunda and then left.

FADEL: But what about the ones that were? What about the people who burst onto the Senate floor or broke into congressional offices?

LUCAS: Right. And some of the images that we all remember from January 6 are those sorts of things - the guy with the horns standing in the well of the Senate...

FADEL: Yeah.

LUCAS: ...The guy with his feet up on Nancy Pelosi's desk. It's really interesting. From court papers and talking to defense attorneys, it appears that prosecutors have drawn a red line around that sort of thing. The case of Paul Hodgkins, who's a crane operator from Florida, is a good example. And I say that because the primary thing that differentiates Hodgkins from Morgan-Lloyd, the woman from Indiana, is that Hodgkins walked onto the Senate floor. Hodgkins' attorney told me that prosecutors wouldn't give him a misdemeanor plea deal. They insisted on Hodgkins taking a felony. And in the end, Hodgkins pleaded guilty to one felony count of obstructing an official proceeding.

FADEL: Now, the government has brought big conspiracy cases against the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers tied to January 6. What's the latest on those?

LUCAS: Well, those cases remain in the pretrial phase, so lots of hearings. But in the big Oath Keepers case, one of the 16 charged co-defendants has pleaded guilty to conspiracy, as has another individual tied to the alleged conspiracy. Importantly, they have both agreed to cooperate with the government. So that is a major boost to investigators in that case, which is one of the highest profile of the whole Capitol riot investigation.

There has been no public movement, really, though, on another significant piece of January 6, and that's the two pipe bombs that were planted near the Capitol. Investigators have released footage of the suspect, but they are still seeking leads to try to find out who was behind those.

FADEL: NPR's Ryan Lucas, thank you.

LUCAS: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MAMMAL HANDS' "BECOMING") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.