CHICAGO (AP) — After Donald Trump supporters stormed Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 in a bid to halt the certification of Joe Biden’s election, many described their actions as seditious or even treasonous.
Some scholars say key figures in the attacks would qualify for sedition conspiracy under U.S. statutes, though it’s less clear any would meet the criteria for treason.
Sedition and treason cases are rare, especially in the modern era. According to the FBI, the U.S. government has successfully convicted fewer than 12 Americans for treason in the nation’s history.
Some notable treason and sedition cases:
Former Vice President Aaron Burr was tried in 1807 for treason for allegedly plotting to urge some states to leave the Union as part of military adventures to seize land from Spain and Mexico.
His trial was an early test of treason as defined in the Constitution, which says it consists “only in levying war” against the U.S. or giving enemies “aid and comfort.” Jurors acquitted Burr after instructions that prosecutors had to show not just that Burr made plans to go to war but actually went to war against the United States.
The name Benedict Arnold, an American military officer who crossed lines to join the British during the Revolutionary War, became synonymous with treason. But he was never captured or tried for it.