Attorney General William P. Barr has let it be known that he is not pleased with protesters, especially those of which who commit crimes in the process.
In a call last week, the unpredictable Trump wingman told federal prosecutors that they should consider charging rioters and others who had committed violent crimes at protests in recent months with sedition, which is defined as the act of encouraging a rebellion against the government.
Several people on the call were alarmed by the unusual suggestion to charge protesters with sedition, which carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
Barr made another startling request when he asked prosecutors in the Justice Department’s civil rights division to determine if Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan could be criminally charged for allowing demonstrators to establish a police-free protest zone near the city’s downtown for several weeks.
The deputy attorney general, Jeffrey A. Rosen, supported Barr’s use of the sedition statute. In an email he wrote days before Barr’s call, he stated, “The attorney general and I recently discussed with you the need to consider the use of a variety of federal charges when they may be appropriate, including seditious conspiracy.” The email went on to add, “Critics of the inclusion of Section 2384 in a list of available statutes appear not to have read beyond the section’s title. Those who have actually read the statute recognize that the text of Section 2384 could potentially apply to some of the violent acts that have occurred.”
As of late, Barr has been vocal about aggressively prosecuting crimes committed during protesting.
During a Wednesday night speech, he said that the Supreme Court had determined that the executive branch had “virtually unchecked discretion” in deciding whether or not to prosecute cases of these kinds.
“The power to execute and enforce the law is an executive function altogether. That means discretion is invested in the executive to determine when to exercise the prosecutorial power.”
As of now, no sedition charges have been brought up.