Lawyers within the Attorney General’s Office in Washington, DC are investigating whether the suspected involvement of former President Donald Trump in the US Capitol rebellion violated district law.
The discussion takes place one month after the possibility of suing Trump was first floated by Attorney General Karl Racine. A spokesperson for the office of the attorney general pointed to the flurry of information that have emerged since the attack on the Capitol, adding that it is the responsibility of the attorney general to examine any reports of illegal incitement to violence.
The alleged involvement of Trump in inciting the violence that left many people dead was broadcast before Congress and in the courts. Impeachment administrators played a video relating the comments of the former president to the violent acts of the rioters. Federal judges across the country have been told by prosecutors that suspected insurrectionists have consistently referred to Trump as the one who was giving them guidance.
According to the spokesperson, Racine’s lawyers weigh certain details, but also carefully analyse the legal issues and prospects of a successful prosecution if they go ahead with charging the former President with a misdemeanour.
The lawyers’ deliberations are aimed at being swift, but not hurried, and their timeline did not factor in the impeachment trial timetable.
Instead, attorneys look at all possible legal obstacles, when analysing the evidence and the law closely.
Because of his restricted authority in Washington, Racine has admitted it could be an uphill battle. The Racine Office only enforces the city’s municipal laws, while the Department of Justice is responsible for the enforcement of all major crimes and federal crimes.
The code focused on by the attorney general’s office is a Washington statute revised in 2011 that makes it a misdemeanour offence for individuals to encourage others to commit violence, adding that “it is unlawful for a person to incite or provoke violence where there is a likelihood that such violence will ensue.” A conviction carries a maximum of six months in prison.
In the past decade, the attorney general’s office said about 20 persons have been charged under this particular provision of the law of disorderly conduct, but none demonstrated the seriousness of behaviour claimed against the former president.
Of the cases reviewed by CNN, all focused on street parties that turned aggressive and rowdy. When they encouraged a group of people to fight, or behaved in an offensive manner to taunt a crowd, two defendants were charged. The defendant was accused of hurling racial slurs at a Washington police officer in a third case to incite others to participate in the arrest of the defendant. Both three cases resulted in convictions or probation dismissals.
Several criminal defence lawyers tell CNN that a credible case against the ex-President would be almost impossible with legal and practical problems. These experts point to the fact that the DC law relies on tradition.