Top Prosecutor Put on Running Clothes to See Riot Firsthand

Michael Sherwin, US attorney for DC, recounts how the day turned violent
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 22, 2021 10:20 AM CDT
Prosecutor Had First-Person View of Capitol Riot
In this Jan. 6 photo, smoke fills the walkway outside the Senate chamber as rioters are confronted by Capitol Police officers.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

At least some of the 400 people arrested so far in the Capitol riot might face the rare charge of sedition—or essentially trying to overthrow the government. Michael Sherwin, who led the Justice Department's initial investigation into the riot as acting US attorney for DC, spoke about the possibility in a 60 Minutes interview that aired Sunday, one in which he also described how he had an unusually close view of the day's happenings. Coverage:

  • In the crowd: Sherwin told interviewer Scott Pelley that he donned running clothes that morning and joined the crowd for former President Trump's rally by the White House, per the New York Times. He described a "carnival" type of atmosphere, with people hawking shirts, popcorn, etc. But he also saw people in Kevlar vests, military helmets, and tactical gear. "Those individuals, I noticed, left the speeches early."

  • The walk: Sherwin walked with the crowd to the Capitol. "You could see it was getting more riled up," he said. "Where it was initially pro-Trump, it digressed to anti-government, anti-Congress, anti-institutional. ... When I saw people climbing up the scaffolding, hanging from it, hanging flags, I was like, "This is going bad fast."
  • Strategy: Sherwin said he and his team of investigators made a point to go after high-profile rioters in a very public manner as quickly as possible. The idea was to discourage another mass gathering ahead of the Jan. 20 inauguration. "And it worked because we saw through media posts that people were afraid to come back to DC because they're like, 'If we go there, we're gonna get charged.'"
  • Trump himself: The possibility that Trump himself might face charges also remains on the table, notes NBC News. The former president was clearly the "magnet" that drew people to DC, said Sherwin, who last week stepped down from his lead-investigator role as part of the transition to the Biden administration. “Now the question is, is he criminally culpable for everything that happened during the siege, during the breach?" he added. "We have people looking at everything."
  • Roger Stone: Meanwhile, scrutiny of Trump ally Roger Stone's role in the violence is ratcheting up, reports the Guardian. Stone wasn't present at the riot, but he was with members of the far-right groups Oath Keepers and Proud Boys ahead of the riot, including three who've been charged. In all, about 10% of the more than 300 people currently charged are members of those two groups, per the Washington Post.
(More Capitol riot stories.)

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