Capitol riot judge sets hearing over media statements

David Yaffe-Bellany
Bloomberg

A federal judge in charge of one of the highest-profile cases stemming from the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol called an unusual hearing to discuss “recent statements to the media about these proceedings,” after the former top prosecutor in Washington appeared on the news show “60 Minutes” to discuss the probe.

U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta scheduled the hearing for 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday in a case in which U.S. prosecutors have accused members of the far-right Oath Keepers of conspiring to break into the Capitol and stop the certification of the presidential election. The order came after “60 Minutes” aired an interview with outgoing U.S. attorney Michael Sherwin, who said that prosecutors could soon bring sedition charges against people who participated in the riot.

Sherwin, who oversaw the initial stages of the riot investigation, stepped down as acting U.S. attorney last week and was replaced by Channing Phillips, a veteran prosecutor in Washington. “I believe the facts do support those charges” of sedition, Sherwin told “60 Minutes.” “And I think that, as we go forward, more facts will support that.”

Sherwin didn’t say which defendants in particular could face those charges. But the New York Times reported on Monday that the Justice Department was considering bringing sedition charges against members of the Oath Keepers.

In the wake of the Capitol riot, the U.S. has charged more than 300 people with a range of crimes, from trespassing to assault. Recently the investigation has shifted to focus on members of the right-wing groups that allegedly plotted the act. A charge of sedition carries a sentence as long as 20 years.

Prosecutors have alleged that 10 Oath Keepers, including militia members Thomas Caldwell and Jessica Watkins, conspired to invade the Capitol. The U.S. accused the rioters of gathering paramilitary gear that was used during the riot, such as camouflaged combat uniforms, tactical vests with plates, and radio equipment.