Are Jan. 6 rioters traitors? So far, criminal charges say no

Accusations against Jan. 6 rioter Thomas Caldwell certainly seem to fit the charge of sedition as it's generally understood — inciting revolt against the government. And the possibility of charging him and others was widely discussed after thousands of pro-Trump supporters assaulted scores of police officers, defaced the U.S. Capitol and hunted for lawmakers to stop the certification. Some called their actions treasonous.

But to date, neither Caldwell nor any of the other more than 500 defendants accused in the attack has been indicted for sedition or for the gravest of crimes a citizen can face, treason. And as an increasing number of lesser charges are filed and defendants plead guilty, those accusations may never be formally levied.

Some legal scholars say that sedition charges could be justified but that prosecutors may be reluctant to bring them because of their legal complexity and the difficulty historically in securing convictions. Overzealousness in applying them going back centuries has also discredited their use. And defense attorneys say discussions of such charges only add to the hyperbole around the events of that day.