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Justice Department investigating prosecutor for '60 Minutes' interview about Capitol riot cases

Michael Sherwin's statements struck some former prosecutors as inappropriate. Justice Department officials notably declined to say whether he sought approval before agreeing to the interview.
Image: Authorities make updates on charges in assault on U.S. Capitol
Michael Sherwin, then the acting U.S. attorney for Washington, D.C., at a news conference at the Justice Department on Jan. 12.Sarah Silbiger / Pool via Reuters file

A federal prosecutor told a judge Tuesday that the Justice Department is investigating Michael Sherwin, the former acting U.S. attorney for Washington, D.C., for comments he made during a "60 Minutes" interview about the Capitol riot investigations.

In an interview broadcast Sunday on CBS, Sherwin said he believed the evidence was "trending toward" meeting the standard to file sedition charges against some of the rioters. "I believe the facts do support those charges," he said, and he also made other comments about individual defendants.

His statements struck some former prosecutors as inappropriate, and Justice Department officials notably declined Monday to say whether Sherwin had sought approval before he agreed to the interview.

During a hearing Tuesday involving four people charged with being members of the Oath Keepers, U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta said he was "surprised, and I'm being restrained in my use of terminology, surprised, to say the least, to see Mr. Sherwin sitting for an interview about a pending case in an ongoing criminal investigation."

"Whether his interview violated Justice Department policy is really not for me to say, but it is something I hope the Department of Justice is looking into," he said.

John Crabb, the director of the criminal division for the U.S. attorney's office in Washington, told the judge that Sherwin's decision is being investigated.

"The Department of Justice has rules and procedures that govern contact with media, and as far as we can determine at this point, those rules and procedures were not applied with respect to that '60 Minutes' interview. Therefore that matter has been referred to the Department of Justice's Office of Professional Responsibility," Crabb said.

Sherwin stepped down as U.S. attorney on Friday to return to the U.S. attorney's office in Miami.