Yes, Sedition Charges Could Be Coming: Prosecutor

Former Justice Dept. official who led probe into Capitol riot thinks evidence points that way
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 22, 2021 12:42 AM CDT
Yes, Sedition Charges Could Be Coming in Capitol Attack: Prosecutor
In this Jan. 6, 2021, photo, Proud Boys members Zachary Rehl, left, and Ethan Nordean, left, walk toward the U.S. Capitol in Washington, in support of then-President Donald Trump.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

Sedition charges could very well be leveled against some suspects in the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol, according to the federal prosecutor who led the Justice Department's probe into the riot until recently. Michael R. Sherwin spoke to 60 Minutes on Sunday, as reported by the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Reuters. "I personally believe the evidence is trending toward that, and probably meets those elements," Sherwin said of sedition, or conspiring to overthrow the government. The DoJ does not often bring such a charge, but Sherwin said the evidence gathered so far seems likely to meet the bar, for at least some suspects. "I believe the facts do support those charges. And I think that, as we go forward, more facts will support that," he said. Sherwin has promised to pursue sedition charges since first announcing a task force to investigate the attack.

The federal government last brought sedition charges in 2010, against members of a Michigan militia who were ultimately acquitted. Sedition charges can be used against people who forcefully attempt "to prevent, hinder or delay the execution of any law of the United States," and prosecutors have accused some Capitol suspects of trying to put a stop to the electoral college certification process. More than 400 people have so far been charged, hundreds of them with trespassing, more than 100 with assaulting officers, and a handful (including members of groups including Proud Boys and Oath Keepers) with conspiracy to obstruct Congress. Sherwin, the former acting US attorney in Washington, says just about 10% of the cases so far involve far-right conspiracies and schemes. Sherwin, who witnessed the violence himself, stepped down from leading the probe Friday. (Read more Capitol attack stories.)

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