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Evidence in Capitol riot 'trending towards' sedition charges, prosecutor says

"I believe the facts do support those charges," Michael Sherwin, the former acting U.S. attorney for Washington, D.C., said on "60 Minutes."
Image: Michael Sherwin, Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, speaks at a press conference to give an update on the investigation into the Capitol Hill riots
Michael Sherwin, then the acting U.S. attorney for Washington, D.C., speaks at a news conference Jan. 12 about the investigation into the U.S. Capitol riot.Sarah Silbiger / AFP via Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — The federal prosecutor who had been overseeing the Justice Department's investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol said evidence is likely to support sedition charges against some of the rioters.

"I personally believe the evidence is trending towards that and probably meets those elements," the official, Michael Sherwin, the former acting U.S. attorney for Washington, D.C., said in an interview with CBS News' Scott Pelley that aired Sunday on "60 Minutes."

Asked whether he expects sedition charges to be brought against some of the suspects, Sherwin said: "I believe the facts do support those charges, and I think that as we go forward, more facts will support that, Scott. This is going to be a long-term investigation."

Sherwin made similar comments in late January, when he told reporters, "We are closely looking at evidence related to the sedition charges."

Sedition charges, involving conspiring to overthrow the government or hindering the execution of federal law, are rare. One of the last cases was in 2010, when federal prosecutors charged members of a Michigan militia with plotting to provoke an armed conflict with the government.

Sherwin joined law enforcement officers at President Donald Trump's rally on Jan. 6 in downtown Washington and observed his supporters, many wearing tactical gear, leave early and head to the Capitol. He said he knew the situation was spiraling out of control when he saw people starting to climb the scaffolding outside the Capitol.

Sherwin, who will soon return to the U.S. attorney's office in Miami, said 400 people have been charged, with the bulk of the cases involving federal criminal charges with sentences from 5 to 20 years. The Justice Department is trying to determine whether there was a premeditated plan to breach the Capitol, he said.

Sherwin also said that it's "unequivocal that Trump was the magnet that brought the people to D.C." on Jan. 6. and that "everything is being looked at" when he was asked whether investigators are examining Trump's role in the events that led to the attack.

"Now the question is is he criminally culpable for everything that happened during the siege during the breach," Sherwin said, noting that many people said they came to Washington because Trump told them to take back the House. That fact "moves the needle towards that direction," he said. "Maybe the president is culpable for those actions."