WASHINGTON – Evidence obtained by the government in its investigation into the January 6 attack on the Capitol Hill most likely meets the bar required to indict some of the suspects of sedition. Michael R. Sherwin, the federal prosecutor who led the Justice Department’s investigation, said in an interview that aired on Sunday.
The department has rarely brought charges of sedition, the crime of conspiracy to overthrow the government.
But in an interview with “60 Minutes”, Mr. Sherwin said that prosecutors had evidence that most likely proved such a charge.
“Personally, I believe the evidence tends to and probably corresponds to these elements,” Sherwin said. “I believe the facts support these allegations. And I think more facts will support this as we move forward. “
The last time prosecutors raised a riot was in 2010 when they accused a Michigan militia of provoking an armed conflict with the government. They were eventually acquitted, and the judge in the case said the Justice Department had failed to provide sufficient evidence that the defendants had “a specific agreement to violently oppose the United States government”.
The Insurgent Conspiracy Act also says that those who conspire to “use violence to combat government authority” or use force “to prevent, obstruct or delay the execution of any United States law” may be charged with sedition.
The government has charged several defendants in the January 6th case of conspiring to derail the final confirmation of President Biden’s election victory.
Mr. Sherwin was a witness to the crime when it took place. After putting on his running clothes and entering the crowd at the rally near the White House, he observed a “carnival setting” of people listening to speeches and selling T-shirts and snacks.
“I noticed that some people were in tactical gear. They were pinned on with kevlar vests. They had the military helmets on, “he said in the 60-minute interview. “These people, as I noted, left the speeches early.”
“Where it was originally for Trump, it went too anti-government, anti-congress and institutional,” Sherwin said. “And then I finally saw people climbing onto the scaffolding. The scaffolding was set up for the inauguration. When I saw people climbing on the scaffolding, hanging on it and hanging flags, I said, “That goes bad quickly.”
From the start, Mr. Sherwin oversaw the investigation as acting US attorney in Washington, a role he handed over to a new interim leader in early March. He resigned from directing the investigation on Friday and returned to Miami, where he had served as a line attorney.
Mr Sherwin said “60 minutes” that the government had charged more than 400 people. Among them are hundreds accused of entering and more than 100 accused of assaulting officers, including Brian D. Sicknick, the Capitol police officer who died after fighting rioters.
Mr Sicknick and two other officers were sprayed with an unidentified chemical that one of the attackers said was used to repel bears.
A medical examiner failed to determine how Officer Sicknick died, Sherwin said. Two suspects were charged with attacking an officer in lieu of murder. But that could change, he said.
“If evidence links this chemical directly to his death,” said Sherwin, “in this scenario, it’s a murder case.”
Mr Sherwin said only about 10 percent of the cases dealt with more complicated conspiracies planned and carried out by right-wing extremists – including members of the Oath Guardians, the three percent, and the proud boys – to organize to get to Washington and that Break through the Capitol.
He reiterated claims he made shortly after the attack that prosecutors were investigating the behavior of former President Donald J. Trump, who told his supporters to attend the January 6 rally, and they made unsubstantiated claims encouraged that he had won the election.
“It is clear that Trump was the magnet that brought people to DC on the 6th. Now the question is whether he is criminally responsible for everything that happened during the siege, during the injury.” Mr. Sherwin said.
“We have people who look at everything,” he said.