After the acting U.S. Attorney of D.C. suggested that the Justice Department was not putting off-limits the speeches made by President Trump and others Wednesday that egged on the violent mob at the Capitol, DOJ officials played down the possibility that they might bring charges for those remarks, NBC News reported Friday.
On a conference call on Friday, a DOJ official was asked whether the Department was considering incitement charges against the President, according to reporting read on air by MSNBC’s Katy Tur.
The official said, according to Tur, “We don’t expect any charges of that nature.”
Another official weighed in later on the call, in comments that suggested the Justice Department would not be targeting any of the speakers at the rally that preceded the breach of the Capitol.
“At this point in the investigation, it is focused solely on the criminal acts at the Capitol building,” the official said, according to Tur.
According to Politico’s Josh Gerstein, the question the official was responding to was a compound one, adding some uncertainty to what the official meant. A DOJ spokesperson, according to Gerstein, has now provided fuller comments suggesting that incitement charges have not been taken completely off the table.
… This is an extremely complex and ongoing investigation and we will continue to follow the facts and the law, as we have said.”
— Josh Gerstein (@joshgerstein) January 8, 2021
Previously, the top federal prosecutor in D.C. suggested those speakers, including Trump, were fair game if the Department found evidence supporting the conclusion that those actors broke the law.
Acting U.S. Attorney Michael Sherwin said Thursday that the Justice Department was looking at “all actors” who played a role in the mob and “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.”
Asked specifically about Trump’s remarks, Sherwin said, “We are looking at all actors here, and anyone that had a role, if the evidence fits the element of a crime, they’re going to be charged.”
In his Wednesday remarks, Trump directed his supporters towards the Capitol and told them “you will never take back our country with weakness.” Other notable speakers at the rally were two of Trump’s sons, Don Jr. and Eric; his personal lawyer, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani; Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL).