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US Judge Criticizes Prosecutors Over '60 Minutes' Interview About Probe into Capitol Attack

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U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday criticized the U.S. Justice Department for speaking to the media about the ongoing investigation into the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by former President Donald Trump’s supporters.

In an unusual court hearing, Mehta said he was “surprised” by remarks prosecutor Michael Sherwin made to the CBS program “60 Minutes,” and “troubled” by a New York Times article that cited anonymous Justice Department sources.

Mehta said the news coverage could affect potential jurors and undermine the constitutional rights of defendants to a fair trial. The judge said he would consider imposing a “gag order” if the pattern continues.

“The Justice Department needs to understand that these types of public statements can jeopardize the integrity of a criminal case and affect the rights of the defendants,” Mehta said.

During the hearing, a Justice Department official told the judge that Sherwin’s interview with “60 Minutes” was being referred for review to an internal watchdog, who would determine if department policies were violated.

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In a brief written order earlier in the day, Mehta said he was scheduling the hearing to address “recent statements to the media.”

Sherwin, a career prosecutor from Miami who previously served as the interim U.S. Attorney for the District Columbia,

told “60 Minutes” that investigators have found evidence that would likely allow the government to file sedition charges against some of those involved in the Jan. 6 attack.

“I believe the facts do support those charges. And I think that, as we go forward, more facts will support that,” Sherwin said in the interview, without specifying which defendants could face such a charge.

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment on Sherwin interview or whether it is under investigation.

(Reporting by Jan Wolfe in San Diego and Mark Hosenball in Washington; Editing by Scott Malone, Leslie Adler and Matthew Lewis)

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