Judge A Mite SO FREAKING MAD At Looselips McGillicuddy Here Blabbing About Jan. 6 Charges
Called it! When federal prosecutor Michael Sherwin appeared on "60 Minutes" Monday night to speculate wildly about sedition charges for Capitol Riot defendants, we said, "Yikes, the judge is not going to like that." Or words to that effect.
And indeed US District Judge Amit Mehta was not bloody impressed with Sherwin's freestyling about cases pending before his court and possible seditious conspiracy charges against the Oath Keepers and other militia groups.
"Let me just say at the outset that I was surprised — and I'm being restrained in my terminology — surprised to say the least to see Mr. Sherwin sitting for an interview about a pending case about an ongoing investigation," Mehta said yesterday at a hastily convened bench conference where Mehta hauled in attorneys for all parties to let them know this shit is NOT ON.
"I called this hearing this afternoon to make clear to everyone that this case will not be tried in the media," Judge Mehta continued. "If there are further public comments or stories of the kind that we've seen in the last 48 hours, I will not hesitate to consider a gag order."
The judge was also pissed about a Monday story in the New York Times describing similar internal DOJ deliberations, information which might potentially prejudice a jury even if no such sedition charges are brought.
"It is my job to ensure that the defendants receive a fair trial," the judge fumed. "So let this hearing serve as notice on the Justice Department that I will not tolerate continued publicity in the media that I believe affects the fair trial rights of these defendants."
It's not clear why Michael Sherwin, an experienced federal prosecutor, thought it was a good idea to go on television and speculate about pending federal cases. Perhaps it's due to longterm exposure to Fox News — this is, after all, a guy who thought blowing up the Michael Flynn prosecution would boost his reputation and career prospects. But whatever the reason, he was mistaken.
"Whether his interview violated Justice Department policy is really not for me to say, but it is something I hope the Justice Department is looking into," Judge Mehta mused. (Spoiler Alert: Judges don't generally ask rhetorical questions.)
John Crabb, chief of the criminal division at the US Attorney's Office in DC, rushed to assure the court that Sherwin was freelancing when he sat down with CBS and had not cleared the appearance with the Department, saying, "As far as we can determine at this point, those rules and procedures were not complied with."
Crabb assured the court that the matter has been referred to the DOJ's Office of Professional Responsibility for review. He did not specify whether this might affect Sherwin's planned return to the US Attorney's Office in Miami, now that Channing Phillips has replaced him as head of the investigation into the events of January 6. But ... well, it's probably not a great career move.
"With respect to the other media issue with the New York Times . . . we have no reason to believe anyone on the trial team was responsible for those disclosures," Crabb continued.
Oh, Mikey, have you been a bad boy?
Don't answer that, fella. You've said more than enough already.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.