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FBI says it's identified over 500 suspects in Capitol riot investigation and made more than 200 arrests

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The former chief of the U.S. Capitol Police Department is set to testify before a Senate committee on Tuesday about the events that unfolded on January 6. It comes as the FBI said it has identified over 500 suspects in the federal investigation into the deadly riot, and made more than 200 arrests. CBS News senior investigative correspondent Catherine Herridge joins CBSN's "Red & Blue" anchor Elaine Quijano with new details about the planning that went into the attack and the results of a lab report on pipe bombs that were placed around the Capitol.

Video Transcript

ELAINE QUIJANO: We're learning more about the planning that went into the attack on the US Capitol and the complications that delayed the response from law enforcement. Former Capitol Police chief Steven Sund is set to testify before a Senate committee Tuesday about the events that unfolded on January 6. Sund resigned one day after the insurrection. He has previously said it took two hours for officials to approve an urgent request for backup from the National Guard.

But a new piece by "The New York Times" is shedding more light on what may have happened, reporting Monday that there was, quote, "confusion about whether approval from congressional leaders was needed to request National Guard troops." For more on the federal investigation into the attack, let's bring in CBS News senior investigative correspondent Catherine Herridge.

Hi, there, Catherine. So arrests in connection to the Capitol riot are ongoing. What are the latest numbers? And what kind of charges are being brought?

CATHERINE HERRIDGE: Well, Elaine, we spoke a couple of weeks ago about how this was shaping up to be one of the largest federal investigations, criminal investigations, in US history, and the data we obtained here at CBS News clearly show that is the case. What we know so far is that the FBI has identified more than 500 persons of interest or potential suspects in the investigation. That tells you about the sheer scope of individuals who they believed breached the Capitol.

Also, more than 200,000 digital media tips, so that's social media, other video elements that they're reviewing. And then, as well, 237 federal cases, and so far 70 indictments. And all of that, for context, is within the space of really just two months.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Wow. Well, let's talk about the commonalities in these cases. Officials say it appears there were two dominant conspiracies at play--

CATHERINE HERRIDGE: Correct.

ELAINE QUIJANO: --on January 6. What can you tell us about that?

CATHERINE HERRIDGE: Well, we were first to report here at CBS News about how investigators considered it a tier one priority in the earliest days of the investigation to identify individuals who used these military-style tactics to breach the Capitol, not only into the building, but then also once inside, and allegedly used these hand signals to communicate directions to one another. What we now see in this federal investigation is two buckets with conspiracy charges.

The first and the larger bucket is with this group called the Oath Keepers. This is a group, according to the FBI, who believe the federal government is systematically stripping them of their constitutional rights. And what we see from the indictments that had been filed is the allegation that they began planning this effort to disrupt the certification of the Electoral College as early as Election Day in November.

And when you dig into those records, you also see allegations that there was not just discussion about what would happen in January and discussion of being prepared for the "inauguration," but it also talked about these active steps that they took, or alleged to have taken, including physical training so that they could better coordinate on the day. And there's an interesting development specifically with an alleged senior member of that group, Jesse Watkins. It was alleged in court filings over the weekend that she was in Washington to present VIP security to people associated with the Trump team and had some kind of meeting with the Secret Service. The Secret Service has told CBS News on the record that there was absolutely no official or formal meeting with Watkins during that time frame in early January.

And just quickly on the second conspiracy, because I promised you two, the other is the Proud Boys. And what's important about that alleged conspiracy is that rather than being a long-term venture, if you will, like the Oath Keepers, it was actually more compact and compressed in the 48 hours leading up to the breach. It was almost an effort to capitalize, allegedly capitalize on the crowd and bring more people into the building that perhaps had thought they would do so on that day.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Really chilling to hear about these additional details, Catherine. And there's more information, as well, coming out about the pipe bombs that were planted in front of the Democratic and Republican National Committee. What's the status of that investigation?

CATHERINE HERRIDGE: Well, a source familiar with the FBI report, it's a forensic examination of the devices, has told me that they were deemed by the FBI to be legit, and then also viable devices, and that each one contained four components. There was the pipe or the container, fusing or firing mechanism, in addition to a low explosive powder, and then also a power supply. But what I found most interesting in the reporting is that there are, I'm told, additional videos of the suspect the FBI has been reviewing.

And a few weeks ago, there was a lot of background chatter that they might be close to an arrest. And I think I understand what that's about now. I'm told that there was a video that was shot by a camera crew that in the background had an individual who resembled the suspect. And as the face was coming into focus on that video, either the camera angle changed or someone walked in front of the camera, and they lost that opportunity to get a visual identification or recognition on the individual.

I'm waiting to hear more back from the FBI on this information. But the reason I talk so much about the pipe bombs here at CBS News is that I know investigators believe that this is a fundamental element to understanding the overall picture on January 6, this issue of premeditation and just how many groups had alleged conspiracies that were operating leading up to that day.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Right. And for people who have been following your work here on the CBS end and on CBS News, more broadly, I think all of those pieces are the kinds of details that are really so eye-opening and sobering with respect to the scope, as you say, of what took place on January 6. So Catherine, since we last spoke, more Capitol Police are under investigation. What are the allegations there?

CATHERINE HERRIDGE: Well, the allegations there is that they did not perform their duties on that day and may have, in effect, facilitated entry and navigation of that Capitol Hill Complex. You've been up on Capitol Hill here in Washington, and the thing that's always been stuck in my brain since that day is how quickly they were able to breach the building, not knowing where they would be able to enter, and then get up to those key areas, Statutory Hall and the speaker's office.

I know from-- we talked about this before, but I think it's really worth repeating. I've been covering the Hill for 15 years or more here in Washington, and it is so easy to get turned around in that complex, because it's an old complex with new additions and new passageways, and even people who are very experienced get turned around. So with the Capitol Hill police, there are 15 who have been suspended, six with pay, and the allegation, essentially, is that they facilitated rather than protecting the Capitol campus on that day.

ELAINE QUIJANO: All right, Catherine Herridge covering all angles of these investigations for us. Catherine, we really appreciate it. Thank you.

CATHERINE HERRIDGE: You're welcome.