Capitol Rioters Could Be Facing Serious Sedition Charges

Charges of conspiring to overthrow the U.S. government are punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Getty Images)

The recently-departed U.S. Attorney who helped bring indictments against hundreds of people for their roles in the Capitol insurrection thinks sedition charges may very well be coming soon.


Michael Sherwin, the former interim U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, told “60 Minutes” on Sunday that he believes that “the facts do support” charges of sedition, although no one has been charged with that crime yet. 

“I personally believe the evidence is trending towards that, and probably meets those elements,” Sherwin told “60 Minutes” when asked why prosecutors hadn’t charged anyone with sedition yet. “I believe the facts do support those charges.”

A longtime federal prosecutor in Miami, Sherwin was appointed the interim U.S. Attorney in D.C. last May, and took the lead role in prosecuting the Capitol riot cases following January 6. He left the office earlier this month and plans to return to Miami, according to “60 Minutes.” 

Charges of seditious conspiracy, or conspiring to overthrow the U.S. government,  are punishable by fines and up to 20 years in prison. Sedition charges are rare; in one of the more recent cases, federal prosecutors charged the Hutaree Christian militia in Michigan with sedition in 2010, though members of the group were later acquitted.  


When asked about the role that then-president Donald Trump played in inciting the riot on January 6, Sherwin was noncommittal, but noted “everything” is of interest  to investigators.  

“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?”

When asked if there were investigators looking specifically into the president’s role, Sherwin answered that “We have people looking at everything.”  

More than 400 people have been charged so far in connection with the Capitol riot, which left five people dead including a Capitol police officer. Although many charges so far have been along the lines of trespassing, more serious charges have been brought against suspects in recent weeks—four alleged Proud Boys leaders were charged with conspiracy, which carries a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison. Last month, a national Three Percenter group disbanded on their own accord, citing the events of January 6 as having “hurt the patriot movement drastically and as a result brought an end to our organization.”

Sherwin estimated that as much as 10 percent of Capitol riot defendants constitute “more complex conspiracy cases.” 

“It’s in the public record where individual militia groups from different facets, Oath Keepers, Three Percenters, Proud Boys, did have a plan,” Sherwin said. “We don't know what the full plan is, to come to D.C., organize, and breach the Capitol in some manner.”