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capitol riot investigation

Prosecutor: Evidence in Capitol attack 'trending' toward sedition charges

Michael Sherwin, the former acting U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C., told CBS News that evidence collected as part of the investigation into the Jan. 6 Capitol riot most likely support sedition charges.

"I personally believe the evidence is trending toward that, and probably meets those elements," he said during an interview with 60 Minutes that aired Sunday night. "I believe the facts do support those charges. And I think that, as we go forward, more facts will support that." Sherwin led the Justice Department's inquiry into the attack until Friday, when he returned to his role as a federal prosecutor in Miami.

Seditious conspiracy — conspiring to overthrow the government — is a rarely invoked charge. The last federal sedition case was in 2010, when members of a Michigan militia were charged with plotting to start an armed conflict with the government, The New York Times reports. The defendants were acquitted, and the judge said the Justice Department was unable to satisfactorily prove the militia members had entered "a concrete agreement to forcibly oppose the United States government."

Former President Donald Trump told supporters to attend the "Stop the Steal" rally on the morning of Jan. 6, and during a speech that day he repeated his baseless claims of voter fraud and a rigged election against him. Sherwin was at the rally, and he told 60 Minutes he saw people in "tactical gear" and "Kevlar vests" with "military helmets on. Those individuals, I noticed, left the speeches early. Where it was initially pro-Trump, it digressed to anti-government, anti-Congress, anti-institutional."

Sherwin told 60 Minutes he was alarmed when he saw people at the Capitol climbing the scaffolding and hanging flags, and thought, "This is going bad fast." Soon, the pro-Trump mob stormed into the building, trying to stop Congress from certifying the election results. So far, the government has charged more than 400 people in connection with the riot, Sherwin said, with many accused of trespassing and more than 100 charged with assaulting law enforcement officers.

"It's unequivocal that Trump was the magnet that brought the people to D.C. on the 6th," Sherwin said. "Now the question is, is he criminally culpable for everything that happened during the siege, during the breach? We have people looking at everything."