D.C. Attorney General: City Prosecutors Could Charge Trump with Misdemeanor over Capitol Riots

D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine speaks at a news conference in Washington, D.C., June 12, 2017. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine said Sunday that city prosecutors could potentially charge President Trump under laws criminalizing statements “that clearly encourage, cajole” or otherwise “get people motivated to commit violence,” after the president’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol earlier this month.

“Let it be known that the office of attorney general has a potential charge that it may utilize,” Racine told MSNBC, explaining that the president could face a misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of six months in jail.

“It’s law in DC since 2011. It makes illegal the statements of individuals that clearly encourage, cajole, and otherwise, you know, get people motivated to commit violence,” he added.

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While the D.C. attorney general enforces local codes for the city, he does not have the authority of the U.S. Department of Justice, which prosecutes both federal crimes and major crimes committed in the district.

While his office has jurisdiction to pursue offenses including weapons, ammunition, curfew violations, and inciting violence, federal prosecutors are working to investigate and prosecute most crimes that occurred during the rioting at the Capitol on January 6 that left five people dead.

Earlier this month federal prosecutors said they are looking at all parties involved in the riot, including Trump and the role he played in inciting it.

“The federal charge carries far more jail time,” Racine said, adding that his office is “collaborating at a high level with the federal prosecutors.”

“(Trump’s) conduct prior to the mob storming the Capitol is relevant. I think his conduct during that time and immediately thereafter is also relevant,” he said. 

Last week the House voted to impeach Trump for “incitement of insurrection” for his role in sparking the unrest. A Senate trial will follow. Two-thirds of the Senate would have to vote for Trump to be convicted on the non-criminal charge. If the Senate votes to convict, it could then hold a vote requiring just a simple majority to bar Trump from holding office in the future.

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