Prosecutors: ‘strong evidence’ shows Capitol rioters sought to ‘capture and assassinate’ officials
The violent mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol last week sought to “capture and assassinate” elected officials, federal prosecutors said in court documents filed late Thursday.
These comments came from a motion filed Thursday in the case against Jacob Chansley, the Arizonan who participated in the deadly January 6 riot while wearing no shirt, face paint, and a furry headdress with horns. Images of his barbarian-looking attire while carrying an American flag on a spear-tipped pole have been dominating the internet.
After Chansley scaled up to the dais where Vice President Mike Pence had been overseeing the Electoral College certification moments earlier, prosecutors say that he penned a threatening note to the vice president saying: “It’s only a matter of time, justice is coming.”
Prior to rioters storming the Capitol—while President Donald Trump and his staunchest supporters held a rally in front of the White House opposing the certification of the votes and of President-elect Joe Biden‘s 2020 election victory—Pence released an eleventh-hour statement saying that he would not, and constitutionally could not overturn the states’ electoral votes, going against Trump’s vocal demands.
The U.S. Secret Service and Capitol Police had escorted Pence and other leaders out of the chamber before the rioters busted into the room.
“The crimes charged in the indictment involve active participation in an insurrection attempting to violently overthrow the United States Government. By Chansley’s own admissions to the FBI and news media, the insurrection is still in progress and he intends to continue participating,” the filing reads.
“Strong evidence, including Chansley’s own words and actions at the Capitol, supports that the intent of the Capitol rioters was to capture and assassinate elected officials in the United States Government,” prosecutors wrote.
“When questioned as to the meaning of that statement, Chansley went on a lengthy diatribe describing current and past United States political leaders as infiltrators, specifically naming Vice President Mike Pence, former President Barack Obama, former Senator Hillary Clinton and U.S. President-elect Joe Biden as infiltrators involved in various types of wrongdoing,” prosecutors added. “Although he stated his note was not a threat, the Government strongly disagrees.”
Prosecutors have also urged the judge to deny Chansley bail. A detention hearing is scheduled in his case for Friday afternoon.
When questioned by investigators, Chansley told them he ventured to the Capitol “at the request of the president that all ‘patriots’ come to D.C. on January 6, 2021.”
On Tuesday, an indictment in Washington, D.C. was unsealed that charged him with civil disorder, disorderly conduct in a restricted building, obstruction of an official proceeding, and demonstrating in a Capitol building.
Chansley said he would return to D.C. on Jan. 20 if he could. “I’ll still go, you better believe it,” he told the FBI, according to the filing. “For sure I’d want to be there, as a protestor, as a protestor, f—–’ a.”
The FBI has been investigating whether any of the rioters intended to kidnap lawmakers and hold them hostage, especially looking into the rioters witnessed carrying pepper spray and plastic zip tie handcuffs. For instance, on Friday in the case of a former Air Force officer, prosecutors claimed he brought plastic zip-tie handcuffs because he sought “to take hostages.” As of yet, the Department of Justice has neither released any specific evidence on the plots nor illustrated how the rioters intended to go about them.
On Saturday, Chansley, who nicknamed himself “QAnon Shaman” and has been present for a long time at Trump rallies, surrendered to the FBI field office in Phoenix.
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.