Top federal prosecutor doesn't rule out charging President Trump for inciting mob at Capitol

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Members of the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia are seen in front of the U.S. Capitol a day after a pro-Trump mob broke into the building on January 07, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Joe Raedle | Getty Images

The acting top federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., said Thursday that the filing of seditious conspiracy, rioting and insurrection charges are options that are “on the table” in connection to 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.”

One of the men hit with charges in federal court, 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 the affirmation of President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral victory by Congress, which began Wednesday afternoon.

A mob of rioters breached the doors of the Capitol, and anarchically 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 was wearing a bullet-proof vest, and carrying a spare ammunition magazine when he was detained by police at the Capitol after trying to flee, according to a charging document.

Alberts, who also was carrying 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 building grounds, the document said.

The officer then saw a bulge on his right hip, which the cop tapped with a baton and “I immediately recognized to be a firearm,” the cop 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.”

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