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DOJ Official Says Trump, Capitol Breach Attackers May Be Charged With Sedition

Sedition is defined as conspiring to “overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States.”

A video billboard calling for the conviction of former President Donald Trump plays near the U.S. Capitol on the fourth day his second impeachment trial.

During a “60 Minutes” interview that aired on Sunday evening, the top federal prosecutor for Washington, D.C., said that several individuals involved in the Capitol breach two months ago could be charged with sedition for their actions — including former President Donald Trump.

Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Michael Sherwin said that his office was still looking into the possibility of sedition for many involved in the events of January 6. Sherwin said he believes that many will face such charges after the investigations conclude.

“I believe the facts do support those charges. I think that, as we go forward, more facts will support that,” Sherwin said.

A person can be charged with sedition if they act to “conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States,” or “by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States,” according to federal law. A person convicted of sedition could face a maximum 20 years prison sentence.

Currently, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed cases against around 400 individuals who are suspected to be involved with the violence of that day. None have been alleged to have committed sedition, with most charges related to assaulting Capitol police officers or trespassing on the Capitol grounds. A small number of individuals who participated in the breach have been charged with conspiracy to obstruct Congress.

During the same interview, Sherwin also said that Trump could be held responsible for some of that day’s actions, and could face criminal charges.

It was “unequivocal” that Trump was “the magnet that brought the people to D.C. on the 6th,” Sherwin explained. “Now the question, is he criminally culpable for everything that happened during the siege, during the breach?”

The DOJ official suggested that Trump could be held responsible for much of what took place during the Capitol breach.

“We have plenty of people — we have soccer moms from Ohio that were arrested saying, ‘Well, I did this because my president said I had to take back our house.’ That moves the needle towards that direction,” Sherwin said. “Maybe the president is culpable for these actions.”

When asked during the interview whether investigators were “looking into” Trump’s role in the Capitol breach, Sherwin responded in the affirmative.

“We have people looking at everything, correct. Everything’s being looked at,” he said.

Trump was impeached, as president, by the House of Representatives earlier this year for inciting a mob of his loyalists to attack the Capitol. Trump told supporters during a rally that same day that they would not be able to “take back” the country “with weakness,” and implored his followers to go directly to the Capitol that day to voice dissatisfaction with the certification of the results of the Electoral College taking place that day. He continued to insist, without evidence, that there was fraud in the election, which he lost to President Joe Biden, and wrongly described the election as “stolen” from his base of supporters.

In addition to his incendiary rhetoric, Trump had also told his supporters to come to D.C. weeks prior to the breach of the Capitol, in many tweets and public statements, for what he promised would be a “wild” day.

Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe, speaking on MSNBC on Sunday, seemed to agree that Trump could be held responsible for the violent attack on the Capitol building, and that charges of sedition might be appropriate.

“It looks like the evidence supports a conclusion that the president and the people immediately around him directly gave aid and comfort to an insurrection against the United States to prevent the government from functioning and to prevent the installation of a new president through the counting of the electoral votes on January 6th,” Tribe said.

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