Evidence the government obtained in the investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol most likely meets the bar necessary to charge some of the suspects with sedition, Michael R. Sherwin, the federal prosecutor who had been leading the Justice Department’s inquiry, said in an interview that aired on Sunday.
The department has rarely brought charges of sedition, the crime of conspiring to overthrow the government.
But in an interview with “60 Minutes,” Mr. Sherwin said prosecutors had evidence that most likely proved such a charge.
“I personally believe the evidence is trending toward that, and probably meets those elements,” Mr. Sherwin said. “I believe the facts do support those charges. And I think that, as we go forward, more facts will support that.”
The last time federal prosecutors brought a sedition case was 2010, when they accused members of a Michigan militia of plotting to provoke an armed conflict with the government. They were ultimately acquitted, and the judge in the case said the Justice Department had not adequately proved that the defendants had entered a “concrete agreement to forcibly oppose the United States government.”
The statute on seditious conspiracy also says that people who conspire to “oppose by force the authority” of the government or use force “to prevent, hinder or delay the execution of any law of the United States” can be charged with sedition.
From the start, Mr. Sherwin oversaw the investigation as the acting U.S. attorney in Washington, a role that he ceded to a new interim leader in early March. He stepped down from leading the investigation on Friday and returned to Miami, where he had been a line prosecutor.
Prosecutor Michael Sherwin described what he saw at the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol as "the dark side of human nature."
Wearing running clothes and a baseball cap, the then-Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia accompanied the D.C. Metropolitan Police to President Donald Trump's rally on the Ellipse. He described seeing a "carnival environment" that quickly turned angry. Then a mob of protesters, some wearing military-grade tactical gear, headed toward the U.S. Capitol.
By day's end, Sherwin would launch the largest criminal investigation in U.S. history.
In his first television interview about the attack on the Capitol, Sherwin, an appointee of former Attorney General William Barr, told 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley that over 400 criminal cases have been filed and he expects at least 100 more people will be charged.
"What makes this case so monumental, there are hundreds of defendants in a limited area, dispersing," Sherwin told 60 Minutes. "And a variety of crimes being investigated, everything from murder to assaults to theft of government property, the theft of art."