FEDERAL PROSECUTOR WHO SAID THE D.O.J. WAS BRINGING SEDITION CHARGES GOES ROGUE DURING ’60 MINUTES’ INTERVIEW

The federal prosecutor who suggested that the U.S. Justice Department was considering bringing sedition charges against those who took part in the January 6 Capitol riot apparently went off-script after sitting down for an interview with “60 Minutes,” according to a Tuesday statement made by a department official.

Shimon Prokupecz tweeted earlier this week: “Michael Sherwin, the former acting US attorney for the District of Columbia, didn’t get prior approval from his Justice Department bosses before the 60 Minutes interview, according to people briefed on the matter, a break with protocol.”

John Crabb—the current head of the D.C. office’s criminal division—said that Michael Sherwin will now be put under investigation over his remarks about the Capitol riot.

Crabb said that Sherwin—the Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia who headed up the prosecutions against the participants at the riot—did not have the appropriate clearance to give the interview he did or to publicly discuss charges that have not yet been brought.

“The Department of Justice has procedures that govern contact with media and interviews. As far as we can determine at this point, those rules were not followed with respect to the ’60 Minutes interview,'” Crabb said. “Therefore that matter has been referred to the Department of Justice’s Office of Professional Responsibility to review.”

Sherwin made the remarks which aired on Sunday, drawing widespread attention. Yahoo News reported the importance and relevance of the interview was especially peculiar because sedition charges had not been brought against any federal prosecutor in nearly 30 years.

The remarks were also said to have infuriated other Justice Department officials, according to Business Insider’s Ryan Barber. Sherwin departed from his post as Acting U.S. Attorney on March 3, when President Joe Biden replaced him with Channing Phillips, though he still remains within the Justice Department.

The hearing on Tuesday was called by Judge Amit Mehta, who is reportedly overseeing a case against members of the Oath Keepers, a right-wing militia group said to have planned the violence that took place on January 6.

At the beginning of the hearing—which was held over Zoom—Mehta went after the Department of Justice for the “60 Minutes” story and for the comments attributed to unnamed department officials in a New York Times story about the sedition charges weighed against the Oath Keepers members, according to Yahoo.

Mehta said that he considered placing a gag order or levy sanction against Justice Department attorneys if similar stories emerged as the case developed.

“If there are further public comments or stories of the kind we’ve seen in the last 48 hours, I will not hesitate to consider a gag order, and also will not hesitate to sanction any attorney that violates our local rules for making statements about this pending criminal case for pending litigation,” Mehta said.

Crabb noted at the hearing that the Justice Department would look further into the comments made in The Times’ story.

The defendants in the cases were not at the court hearing. Several of their attorneys said that they declined to comment to CBS News when contacted about the “60 Minutes” story, as well as for other stories about their clients.

Mehta said comments speculating about charges made it more difficult to ensure that the trial process is fair.

“The Department of Justice needs to understand that these types of public statements can jeopardize the integrity of the criminal case and affect the rights of the criminal defendants,” Mehta said. “And this is my job to ensure that the defendants receive a fair trial.”

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