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Various historians and lawyers critique Trump's actions

US Capitol by dbaron is licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

A number of historians and lawyers say that when President Donald Trump addressed the pro-Trump mob in Washington D.C. yesterday, he encouraged them to march on – and break into – the U.S. Capitol Building. One attorney who says the President conducted an act of sedition.

“Part of the speech that Donald Trump gave was basically egging people on. He was sitting here saying you need to march on the Capitol you need to march down there. I'm going to march down there with you. And then of course he didn't because he's not going to stand in the line of fire.

Jeffrey Swartz is a criminal law professor at Western Michigan University’s Cooley Law school. He says those actions amount to sedition.

“Sedition is doing anything by word or act that encourages councils or involves other people in an act of insurrection," said Swartz. "Insurrection is an act against the government in an attempt to overthrow the government. And here the attempt was to overthrow the government by throwing the House and the Senate into shambles and not allowing them to do their work to select another President of the United States. That's what this was all about. And so, it is sedition to attack the U.S. Capitol and that's what they did, they attacked the US Capitol.”

I asked if the President is still culpable in this case and responsible? What is the penalty for sedition?

“Penalty for sedition is life in prison," Swartz says. "That wouldn't happen in this case because, you know, life in prison for him is like 10 minutes. But the truth of the matter is that he will pardon himself. He will attempt to pardon himself. I do not believe that if he resigns (Vice President Mike) Pence will do this. I think Pence will say, no I'm not going to pardon him. Not after what you did on January 6th. He can't afford to do that. This isn't Nixon. This is worse than Nixon. We haven't had an armed insurrection in this country, other than the Civil War, since in Shays’ rebellion during Washington’s first term.”

Swartz tells us the last time the U.S. Capitol Building was attacked was during the war of 1812.