Will Trump be Charged For The Capitol Hill Riots?

Published March 22nd, 2021 - 09:40 GMT
Donald Trump: Not over Yet!
The US ex-president Donald Trump could be charged for inciting the Capitol Hill riots. Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP
The FBI is searching for the pipe bomber and Lonnie Coffman, 70, is charged in Capitol riot

The Trump-appointed top federal prosecutor for Washington DC has said that the former president could be facing charges for his role in the Capitol riot, as he warned that some of the rioters could be landed with sedition charges, and face 20 year sentences.

Michael Sherwin was appointed by Bill Barr, the former attorney general also appointed by Trump, in May 2020 to take over the Washington DC office as US Attorney.

His team have so far criminally charged 400 people for their actions on January 6, and he said Donald Trump was also being investigated.

'We have people looking at everything,' Sherwin told 60 Minutes. 'Everything's being looked at.'

The 49-year-old prosecutor told Scott Pelley, the host of Sunday's show, that he thought sedition charges - attempting to overthrow the government - could be brought against some of the rioters.

He also detailed their investigations into the actions of Lonnie Coffman, a 70-year-old from Alabama who brought 11 Molotov cocktails which were designed to act like napalm on explosion.

Coffman is being held without bail.

'It's unequivocal that Trump was the magnet that brought the people to D.C. on the 6th,' said Sherwin.

'Now the question is, is he criminally culpable for everything that happened during the siege, during the breach?'

Sherwin, who on the day of the Capitol riots dressed in his running clothes and went down to the area to see for himself, said that his team was relying heavily on social media and publicly-available documentation of the day. He said their accounts and their rationale made charges against Trump more likely.

'We have plenty of people - we have soccer moms from Ohio that were arrested saying: 'Well, I did this because my president said I had to take back our house,' Sherwin explained.

'That moves the needle towards that direction. Maybe the president is culpable for those actions.

'But also, you see in the public record too militia members saying, 'You know what? We did this because Trump just talks a big game. He's just all talk. We did what he wouldn't do.'

Of the 400 arrested so far, Sherwin said the majority are facing federal criminal charges, 'and significant federal felony charges.'

He said around 100 of them were charged with assaulting federal officers and local police officers.

Prosecutors say 139 police officers were assaulted.

Among those charged with assaulting an officer were two men, George Tanios, 39, of Morgantown, West Virginia, and Julian Khater, 32, of Pennsylvania, who used bear spray on Officer Brian Sicknick, who died during the Capitol riot.

Sherwin said that, if it was proved the spray killed Sicknick, the pair would be charged with murder.

'If evidence directly relates that chemical to his death, yeah,' said Sherwin.

'We have causation, we have a link. Yes. In that scenario, correct, that's a murder case.'

Shewin said that, despite the carnage, the day 'could have been a lot worse' because two major plots did not succeed.

One was a series of pipe bombs around DC that failed to detonate. The FBI are still looking for the perpetrator.

The other was Coffman's Molotov cocktails, which did not explode.

'It's actually amazing more people weren't killed,' said Sherwin.

'We found ammunition in his (Coffman's) vehicle.

'And also, in the bed of the vehicle were found 11 Molotov cocktails. They were filled with gasoline and Styrofoam.

'He put Styrofoam in those, according to the ATF, because when you throw those, when they explode, the Styrofoam will stick to you and act like napalm.'

Sherwin was asked by the Biden administration to stay through the transition.

Now he plans to return to the Miami U.S. Attorney's Office, but said that the work will continue - in particular, in trying to establish whether or not there were more conspiracies.

'That's what we're trying to determine right now,' he said.

'We've charged multiple conspiracy cases, and some of those involve single militia groups, some of them involve multiple militia groups.

'For example, individuals from Ohio militia were coordinating with a Virginia militia group of Oath Keepers, talking about coming to the capital region, talking about - no specific communication about breaching the Capitol - but talking about going there, taking back the House.

'Talking about stopping the steal. Talking about how they need a show of force in DC. And we see that in December.'

He said that those involved have been charged with obstruction, a felony with a 20-year sentence.

This article has been adapted from its original source.

© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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