Former US attorney says investigators 'looking' at Trump's role in riots

Donald Trump Jan. 6
Posted at 12:13 PM, Mar 22, 2021

The former acting U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia says he expects some of those who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 will face sedition charges and confirmed that investigators are investigating whether former President Donald Trump could be “culpable” for some of the actions that took place that day.

Michael Sherwin, who left his post as U.S. attorney last week for a position at the Justice Department, provided insight into the criminal case against those involved in the Capitol riots during an interview with 60 Minutes that aired on CBS Sunday night.

Sherwin noted that about 400 people currently face charges linked to the Jan. 6 riot. He said that anywhere from 80% to 90% of those cases involved individuals who face trespassing charges inside and outside of the Capitol. He noted that about 10% of cases were what he called “conspiracy cases” — most of whom were part of far-right groups like the Oath Keepers, Three Percenters and Proud Boys who planned ahead and knowingly breached the building.

As of now, the most significant charge rioters face is obstruction, which Sherwin noted could net a 20-year prison sentence. When asked if any of the rioters could face serious sedition charges — an attempted overthrow of the government — Sherwin said it’s possible.

“I personally believe the evidence is trending towards that, and probably meets those elements,” Sherwin told CBS News’ Scott Pelley. “…I believe the facts do support those charges. And I think that, as we go forward, more facts will support that, Scott.

Pelley also asked Sherwin if his team was investigating Trump’s role in the riots, to which Sherwin said "we have people looking at everything."

“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?”

Sherwin noted that while some of the rioters said directly that they were in the Capitol building on Jan. 6 because Trump told them to be there, some militia members noted that they were taking actions because the president is “just all talk. We did what he wouldn’t do.”

Trump delivered an address on the national mall just hours before rioters breached the Capitol building. During that address, he told his supporters to march down to the Capitol and later told them to “fight like hell,” but also said during that same speech that protests should remain peaceful.

Trump was impeached on charges that he incited the Jan. 6 riots — the second time he had been impeached during his four years in office. Fifty-seven senators, including seven Republicans, voted to impeach, well short of the 67 needed to convict.