The federal prosecutor originally tasked with investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot is now indicating that evidence is “trending towards” sedition charges in some of the cases connected to the incident.
Michael Sherwin is a former top Department of Justice official and the prosecutor who was originally handling the investigation. He spoke with “60 Minutes” on Sunday and told correspondent Scott Pelley that the evidence most likely meets the threshold to charge some of the suspects involved with sedition.
The charges are very serious. Anyone accused of sedition is in essence being charged with attempting to overthrow the U.S. government. If convicted, the charge carries up to a 20-year prison sentence.
Pelley noted that no one connected to the riot has been charged with sedition yet. He also quoted the statute and mused that it seemed like a “very low bar” to justify charging someone.
(Video Credit: CBS News)
Sherwin contested that statement. “I don’t think it’s a low bar, Scott, but I will tell you this: I personally believe the evidence is trending towards that, and probably meets those elements.”
The prosecutor went on to state that he feels that the facts “do support those charges. And I think that, as we go forward, more facts will support that, Scott.”
The drama surrounding the riot has not faded away even after former President Trump was impeached and acquitted in connection to the event. The military is still stationed around the Capitol and Republicans are comparing their presence to the Green Zone in Baghdad.
Sedition charges can be leveled at those who conspire to “oppose by force the authority” of the government or use force “to prevent, hinder or delay the execution of any law of the United States.”
According to The New York Times, the last time that sedition charges were brought was in 2010 when Michigan militia members were accused of planning an attack on the government. A judge dismissed the case because sufficient evidence wasn’t produced to back the charge.
“The zip tie guy. The Camp Auschwitz guy.” The federal prosecutor who led the investigation of the Capitol riot says he wanted to charge as many people as possible, including these two men, before the inauguration to send a message to potential agitators. https://t.co/P9lD1UqH4O pic.twitter.com/TKLKynNBYX
— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) March 21, 2021
Sherwin has now been reassigned to another case within the Justice Department. But his team has lined up over 400 criminal cases since January. Channing Philips became the acting U.S. attorney in D.C. in March and will now oversee the investigation.
Sherwin is estimating that 10% of those cases involve “more complex conspiracy cases.” That is in reference to militia groups such as the Three Percenters, the Oath Keepers, and the Proud Boys.
“The most significant charge is obstruction,” he contended. “That’s a 20-year felony. They breached the Capitol with the intent, the goal to obstruct official proceedings, the counts, the Electoral College count.”
Pelley stated that the attorneys for some members of the groups are still insisting that their clients are innocent.
Sherwin said that the allegations against individuals will be based on solid evidence, not social media commentary.
He also watched the rally before the riot in an effort to gauge the mood of the crowd. Sherwin said it was a carnival-like environment. He also observed that some individuals in tactical gear left early.
Sherwin went on to claim: “It’s unequivocal that Trump was the magnet that brought the people to D.C. on the 6th. Now the question is, is he criminally culpable for everything that happened during the siege, during the breach?”
He concluded: “We have people looking at everything.”
Scott Pelley asks federal prosecutor Michael Sherwin if investigators are looking into President Trump’s role in January’s Capitol riot.
— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) March 21, 2021
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