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As Reports Say Trump Has Discussed Self-Pardon, Federal Prosecutor Doesn’t Rule Out Investigating Trump’s Role in Capitol Riot

Outgoing President Donald Trump delivers a speech on Jan. 6, shortly before his mob of supporters ran riot inside the U.S. Capitol.

The top federal prosecutor for the nation’s capital told reporters on Thursday that nothing would keep his investigation into the U.S. Capitol riot from examining outgoing President Donald Trump.

According to various reports of the press briefing, Acting U.S. Attorney Michael Sherwin answered in the affirmative when asked a direct question about whether his probe would examine incendiary statements by speakers at Trump’s rally before his mob of supporters.

“Yes, we are looking at all actors here, not only the people that went into the building, but […] were there others that maybe assisted or facilitated or played some ancillary role in this. We will look at every actor and all criminal charges,” Sherwin said, in a quote excerpted by the Washington Post.

Trump urged the mob to “fight like hell,” during a speech delivered shortly before throngs breached the Capitol, destroying property, ransacking lawmakers’ offices, and menacing officials. Four were dead in its wake.

Prosecutors unveiled charges against 55 people today, including allegations of knowingly entering restricted grounds, assault of a federal law enforcement officer, and violent entry on Capitol grounds against Mark Leffingwell, Bloomberg reported.

Those charges could get tougher, according to statements by Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, who took over for Bill Barr.

“Yesterday, our Nation watched in disbelief as a mob breached the Capitol Building and required federal and local law enforcement to help restore order,” Rosen wrote in a statement. “The Department of Justice is committed to ensuring that those responsible for this attack on our Government and the rule of law face the full consequences of their actions under the law.”

In a memo from September 17, Rosen instructed U.S. Attorneys on how to consider possible “seditious conspiracy” charges, telling them the statute “does not require proof of a plot to overthrow the U.S. Government, despite what the name might suggest.”

Rosen had been serving as deputy attorney general at the time, and the New York Times learned that the Justice Department had been considering the statute as a response to violence inside protests across the country for racial justice, in events where protesters tried to take over federal property.

“Unfortunately, mention of the possible applicability of Section 2384 has been leaked to the press and was both misrepresented and criticized in the media,” Rosen wrote at the time. “I know that you share my disappointment over selective leaks of internal Department communications and deliberations which seem designed to misrepresent what the Department is actually doing to protect the rights and interests of the American people.”

One precedent cited by Rosen to justify seditious conspiracy charges was ex-Attorney General Eric Holder’s prosecution of a so-called “Christian warrior” militia in 2010, alleging a plot to kill a Michigan law enforcement officer and then attack other police at the funeral in case that fell apart.

“While that prosecution was not ultimately successful, its failure was based on the facts of the case, not any infirmity in the statute itself.”

Trump supporter Ashli Babbitt was shot and killed by Capitol police, while three other people are said to have died from “separate medical emergencies” near the Capitol.

The latest news comes as reports say Trump has discussed pardoning himself in recent weeks.

This is a developing story…

(Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on MSNBC, BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks.