DOJ Prosecutor Michael Sherwin Will Avoid Disciplinary Action For '60 Minutes' Interview

The former acting U.S. attorney in Washington, Michael Sherwin, has left the Department of Justice (DOJ) and can no longer suffer disciplinary consequences for comments he made to CBS' "60 Minutes" about the January 6 Capitol attack.

The Justice Department opened an investigation into Sherwin after he suggested during the interview that some of the rioters could face rarely used sedition charges. He had been made the top prosecutor in Washington by the former U.S. Attorney General William Barr leading up to his "60 Minutes" appearance.

Sherwin first mentioned seditious conspiracy charges, for which there is a 20-year maximum prison penalty, in January. His superiors at the Justice Department had told Sherwin not to speak to reporters about the investigation, according to the Associated Press.

The Justice Department received a reprimand over Sherwin's comments from a judge overseeing one of the conspiracy cases related to January 6, who also warned that disclosing any further information to the press could result in a gag order or sanctions.

DOJ spokesman Joshua Stueve said he would not answer questions about whether the investigation would continue, even though Sherwin would no longer be subjected to any sanctions from the Office of Professional Responsibility.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

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The former acting U.S. attorney in Washington, Michael Sherwin, has left the Department of Justice and can no longer suffer disciplinary consequences for comments he made to CBS' "60 Minutes" about the January 6 Capitol attack. In this December 21, 2020, file photo, Sherwin speaks during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, D.C. Michael Reynolds/Pool via AP

Sherwin, who until recently was leading the investigation into the January 6 riot, said during the interview that some of the rioters could face rarely used sedition charges, something he had suggested previously in several news conferences. Days before the interview aired in March, Sherwin was replaced as the top prosecutor in the nation's capital.

Sherwin, who had been named U.S. attorney in Washington by then-Attorney General William Barr, was slated to return to his prior position as a federal prosecutor in Florida. For years, Sherwin had worked as a career federal prosecutor on drug trafficking, white-collar and top national security cases.

After leaving the Justice Department in recent weeks, he joined a law firm in Washington.

Sherwin had been planning for months before the investigation to leave the Justice Department and had stayed on at the request of Attorney General Merrick Garland's transition team. He has been continuing to cooperate with the inquiry, even after he left the department, a person familiar with the matter told AP. The person could not publicly discuss the matter and spoke on condition of anonymity.

During a court hearing, John Crabb, chief of the U.S. attorney's office's criminal division, said the matter had been referred to the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility for investigation. It was highly unusual for the Justice Department to disclose such an investigation, in part because federal law seriously curtails the information the government can publicly disclose about personnel actions.

Senior Justice Department officials had never told Sherwin that he could not speak with reporters, the person familiar with the matter said. The Justice Department had put out Sherwin publicly to discuss the investigation multiple times with reporters at news conferences and on conference calls.

If misconduct is found in internal investigations, employees could be reprimanded, suspended or removed from their position. But the office doesn't have any authority to subpoena witnesses or issue subpoenas for documents from anyone who doesn't work at the Justice Department. Current employees could face disciplinary action for failing to cooperate.

Generally, the office would complete its investigation, even if an employee leaves. But the deputy attorney general's office can also opt to terminate the investigation if an employee leaves during the investigation.

DOJ
The former acting U.S. attorney in Washington, Michael Sherwin, has left the Department of Justice (DOJ) and can no longer suffer disciplinary consequences for comments he made to CBS' "60 Minutes" about the January 6 Capitol attack. In this December 21, 2020, file photo, Sherwin speaks during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, D.C. Samuel Corum/Getty Images