Sedition charges for pro-Trump rioters at Capitol are option, prosecutor says, as first federal cases filed
- The acting top federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., said Thursday that seditious conspiracy charges are an option that is "on the table" in connection with a riot by supporters of President Trump at the Capitol a day earlier.
- Acting U.S. Attorney Michael Sherwin's comments came as the first federal charges related to the disturbances were filed Thursday.
- In one of the federal cases, Christopher Alberts was charged with carrying a firearm on Capitol grounds.
- The other person charged in federal court, Mark Leffingwell, was hit with multiple counts, including assaulting a federal law enforcement officer.
The acting top federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., said Thursday that seditious conspiracy, rioting and insurrection charges are options that are "on the table" in connection with a riot by supporters of President Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol a day earlier.
Acting U.S. Attorney Michael Sherwin's comments came as the first federal charges related to the disturbances were filed against two men Thursday.
Sherwin said more than 40 other criminal cases were filed by the Justice Department in Washington, D.C., Superior Court, a non-federal court.
None of those involve the more serious crimes of seditious conspiracy or insurrection.
But Sherwin told reporters, "All options are on the table."
In one of the federal cases, Christopher Alberts was charged with carrying a firearm on Capitol grounds.
The other person charged in federal court, Mark Leffingwell, was hit with multiple counts, including assaulting a federal law enforcement officer.
Both men had been at the Capitol amid a crowd of Trump backers angry over Congress' affirmation of President-elect Joe Biden's electoral victory, a process that began Wednesday afternoon.
A mob of rioters breached the doors of the Capitol and swarmed through the complex, including the Senate chamber itself.
Leffingwell was charged with trespassing, assaulting a federal law enforcement officer, and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.
A charging document says he tried to push past a Capitol police officer and punched the officer repeatedly with a closed fist. Leffingwell apologized for his actions while in custody, the document said.
Alberts had a pistol and a spare ammunition magazine and was wearing a bulletproof vest when he was detained by police at the Capitol after trying to flee, according to a charging document.
Alberts, who also had a gas mask, was charged with carrying a readily accessible firearm on Capitol grounds, according the document, signed by a federal magistrate judge.
His apprehension Wednesday came at the tail end of hours of chaos.
Alberts was spotted at around 7:25 p.m. ET Wednesday by a Washington, D.C., police officer who saw he was slow to respond to orders to leave the Capitol grounds, the document said.
The officer then saw a bulge on his right hip, which the officer tapped with a baton and "I immediately recognized to be a firearm," the officer wrote in the document.
"At that point, I told two [Metropolitan Police Department] officers next to him that Alberts had a firearm on his person," the officer wrote.
"Alberts, apparently hearing that, immediately tried to flee, but I was able to detain him with the help of two other officers."
The charging document said the Taurus 9mm pistol that was on Alberts' hip contained 13 rounds of ammunition and that the spare magazine had 12 rounds.
While in custody, Alberts told police that he had the gun "for personal protection and he did not intend on using the firearm to harm anyone."