The Department of Justice is not ruling out laying criminal charges against President Donald Trump for allegedly inciting the rioters who stormed the Capitol Building in Washington DC on Wednesday, The New York Times reports.
"We are looking at all actors, not only the people who went into the building," said interim District of Columbia Attorney Michael Sherwin. The DC Attorney's office is the largest federal attorney's office in the United States.
"We are looking at all actors here," Sherwin suggested, referencing the President. "If the evidence fits the elements of a crime, they're going to be charged."
"Was there a command and control? Were there others that maybe assisted or facilitated or obviously played some ancillary role in this? Anyone that had a role, and the evidence fits the elements of a crime, they’re going to be charged," Sherwin said.
Sherwin noted that charges such as conspiracy, rioting, and insurrection are all being considered against the rioters. During the BLM riots which overtook many American cities during the summer, Acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen wrote a memo telling prosecutors that protesters "take a federal courthouse or other federal property by force" should be considered for charges of sedition. The memo was part of the Trump administration's attempt to crack down on violent protesters.
The memo does not require an intent to overthrow the government, but rather broadly includes anyone who uses violent and destructive force against government property in an attempt to resist government authority.
Sherwin also noted that electronics were stolen from the offices of various legislators. If the electronics carry data on them, their theft could constitute a national security breach.
A number of charges have already been laid against some of the rioters.
Sherwin said that the DOJ "will bring the maximum charges we can based upon the conduct."
The DOJ typically avoids launching legal cases against sitting Presidents, but with Trump's term expiring in less than two weeks, he would become much more vulnerable to such actions.
Many, however, have disputed the claim that Trump can be tried over his conduct "inciting" the rioters. The President never told his supporters to riot and, regardless of whether he expected riots, claiming voter fraud swung an election is acceptable under the first amendment. While his initial response to the riots on Wednesday was widely criticized as weak, he did ask the rioters to "go home."
The President delivered a much stronger condemnation of the rioters on Thursday, stating in a speech that "those who engaged in the acts of violence and destruction, you do not represent our country, and to those who broke the law, you will pay."