Capitol Riot

DC AG Considers Charging Trump, Others Who Rallied Crowd With Inciting Violence

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As investigators work to identify and arrest those who rioted at the U.S. Capitol last week, many people are wondering if the president and others who encouraged the crowd beforehand will face criminal charges.

The U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C., has not ruled out filing felony charges for inciting a riot, but he also hasn't committed to doing it.

Enter D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine, who says he's now investigating, too, even though his prosecution authority is limited only to misdemeanors.

"Those were outrageous comments that those individuals, including the president of the United States made. Clearly the crowd was hyped up, juiced up," Racine said.

On the morning of Jan. 6, U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) yelled to the crowd of thousands gathered for the rally that "today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass."

The president's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, told the crowd there should be "trial by combat."

The president's son, Donald Trump, Jr., yelled, "Stand up and fight! Stand up and hold your representatives accountable."

"If you don't fight like hell, you're not gonna have a country anymore," President Donald Trump told his supporters as he directed them to march to the Capitol, where members of Congress were in the process of certifying the election.

Racine called the comments "dangerous" and said he's investigating whether the language the rally speakers used rises to the level of inciting violence, a criminal misdemeanor.

Photos: Pro-Trump Supporters Breach the Capitol Building

"Rather than calm them down or at least emphasize the peaceful nature of what protests need to be, they really did encourage these folks and riled them up," Racine said.

D.C.'s incitement of violence law was passed about a decade ago, and in that time, the attorney general's office has only prosecuted about 20 cases using it. U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), who chairs the House Democratic Caucus, applauded Racine's consideration of using it now.

"The reason there were thousands of people riled up and whipped into a frenzy is because they believe Donald Trump and this lie that the election was stolen from him, so they came here to overthrow the government," Jeffries said.

Racine is also reviewing whether a misdemeanor charge from his office might withstand the reach of a presidential pardon, since in the District, local felony charges are handled by the  U.S. Attorney's Office, which means they're pardonable.

"I would just expect that the D.C. attorney general will follow the facts, apply the law, apply the constitution, conduct a thorough investigation and let the chips fall where they may," Jeffries said.

Racine says there is still more investigating to do and he plans to coordinate with the U.S. Attorney's Office's current and potential future leadership so as not to interfere with potentially more serious charges. 

The News4 I-Team reached out to those who spoke at the rally. A spokesperson for Congressman Brooks said his speech had nothing to do with the illegal breach of the Capitol and referred to fighting to win future elections. Brooks issued this statement.

President Trump told reporters this week his remarks were “totally appropriate."

Reported by Jodie Fleischer, produced by Rick Yarborough, and shot and edited by Steve Jones and Caroline Tucker.

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