DOJ Refers Prosecutor for Investigation After Threatening ‘Sedition’ Charges in Media

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 19: The Department of Justice headquarters stands on February 19, 2020 in Washington, DC. A Department of Justice spokesperson is denying that Attorney General William Barr is considering resigning after his critical comments about President Trump Trump tweeting about ongoing Department of Justice cases. (Photo by …
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The Department of Justice (DOJ) is referring at least one federal prosecutor to its Office of Responsibility over claims made on CBS’ 60 Minutes and in the New York Times that those involved in the January 6 Capitol riot could soon face charges of sedition.

As the Washington Examiner reported Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta rebuked DOJ prosecutors for recent comments made by former acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Michael Sherwin on 60 Minutes on Sunday, and  similar comments about “sedition” attributed to “Justice Department officials” in an article Monday in the New York Times.

Judge Mehta told the DOJ that the behavior of its prosecutors risked violating the rights of the defendants to a fair trial.
The Examiner‘s Jerry Dunleavy reported:

“I was surprised — and I’m being restrained in my use of terminology — surprised, to say the least, to see Mr. Sherwin sitting for an interview about a pending case in an ongoing criminal investigation. Whether his interview violated Justice Department policy is really not for me to say, but it is something I hope the Department of Justice is looking into,” the judge said. “As for the New York Times story, I found it troubling that sources within the Department of Justice were detailing the possibility of additional charges in a pending criminal case in an ongoing criminal investigation. I have little doubt that anonymously divulging internal department deliberations is contrary to department policy.”

“No matter how much press attention this matter gets, let me be clear that these defendants are entitled to a fair trial, not one that is conducted in the media,” Mehta said. “They are also entitled to defend against charges that are actually brought against them, not speculation about what might or might not be coming. … The fact is, these types of statements in the media have the potential of affecting the jury pool and the rights of these defendants, and the government, quite frankly, in my view, should know better.”

John Crabb, who runs the criminal division for the prosecutor’s office in the nation’s capital, told the judge that the DOJ was taking action.

Crabb said that both the 60 Minutes and New York Times stories were being referred to the DOJ Office of Responsibility.

The Washington Post noted that Mehta had called a hearing with the prosecutors on short notice — a bad sign for the case:

U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta called a surprise hearing Tuesday on six hours’ notice to discuss his concerns that comments by Michael R. Sherwin aired on Sunday and a separate article published Monday by the New York Times indicated the Justice Department was not following the court’s rules or the agency’s internal procedures to refrain from speaking about ongoing cases outside of court.

The internal review and the judge’s displeasure are an ominous development for Justice Department officials trying to oversee one of the largest criminal investigations in U.S. history, in which more than 300 defendants have already been charged and 100 more are expected to be. Already, defense lawyers are trying to use Sherwin’s remarks to argue their clients are being treated unfairly.

Former Deputy Director of the FBI Andrew McCabe was fired by the Trump administration in 2018 for leaking to the media about investigations into Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation, apparently without authorization, and lying about it.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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