Federal prosecutors are now walking back claims in a court filing that said there is "strong evidence" that some members of the pro-Trump mob that raided the Capitol last week planned to assassinate lawmakers.
What You Need To Know
- Federal prosecutors in Arizona say, "Strong evidence ... supports that the intent of the Capitol rioters was to capture and assassinate elected officials in the United States Government"
- The grisly accusation appears in a court filing in Arizona requesting that a judge order one of the alleged rioters, Jacob Anthony Chansley, to remain jailed until his trial
- Meanwhile, reports say that dozens of people on a terrorist watch list and former members of the U.S. military or law enforcement were seen at or near the Capitol Jan. 6
- FBI Director Christopher Wray said Thursday that his agency is tracking an “extensive amount of concerning online chatter, ”including about armed protests before Biden’s inauguration Wednesday.
The grisly accusation appears in a court filing in Arizona requesting that a judge order one of the alleged rioters, Jacob Anthony Chansley, to remain jailed until his trial. Chansley, also known as Jake Angeli and the “QAnon Shaman,” is the man photographed inside the Capitol shirtless, covered in tattoos and wearing a fur, horned hat. He was arrested last week and is charged with crimes that include actively participating in an insurrection and obstructing a congressional proceeding.
But Michael Sherwin, the interim U.S. Attorney for Washington, D.C., said at a press conference Friday that there is "no direct evidence of kill and capture teams" among Capitol rioters.
“There were other prosecutors," Sherwin added. "That may be a disconnect that may be adding information that’s not directly related to what we have."
Prosecutors raised a similar prospect Thursday in the case of a former Air Force officer who they alleged carried plastic zip-tie handcuffs because he intended “to take hostages.”
In the 18-page memo filed Thursday, federal prosecutors in Arizona wrote: “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.”
The prosecutors say Chansley, 33, left a note on the Senate dais, where Vice President Mike Pence had sat just moments before, that read, “It's only a matter of time, justice is coming.” He, however, told investigators he did not intend for the note to be a threat, the document said.
Chansley is scheduled to appear in court Friday.
The allegations come amid other disturbing signs that suggest the Jan. 6 riot was far more sinister than an attempt to disrupt the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College win and as officials warn of more planned armed protests in the coming days.
The Washington Post reported Thursday dozens of people on a terrorist watch list were in Washington for the pro-Trump events on Jan. 6. The majority of them are suspected white supremacists, the article said.
The Associated Press reported Friday that at least 21 current or former members of the U.S. military or law enforcement have been identified as being at or near the Capitol riot, with more than a dozen others under investigation but not yet named. In many cases, those who stormed the Capitol appeared to employ tactics, body armor and technology that were similar to those of the very police they were confronting.
FBI Director Christopher Wray said Thursday that authorities have identified more than 200 suspects involved in the Capitol siege. He also said the agency is tracking an “extensive amount of concerning online chatter,” including about armed protests before Biden’s inauguration Wednesday.
“We know who you are, if you’re out there, and FBI agents are coming to find you,” Wray said. “My advice to people who might be inclined to follow in the footsteps of those engaged in the kind of activity we saw last week is stay home, look at what’s happening now to the people who were involved in the Capitol siege.”
Among those arrested so far, some have been charged with weapons offenses – including one man who allegedly had 11 Molotov cocktails in his pick-up truck.
Five deaths, including of a Capitol Police officer, are tied to the rioting, which broke out just after President Donald Trump addressed his supporters at a nearby rally, repeating false claims of election fraud and calling on the crowd to march to the Capitol. Trump has since been impeached by the House for inciting an insurrection.
Chansley told investigators that he traveled to Washington with a group of “patriots” at the request of the president.
Videos show insurrections chanting, “Hang Mike Pence!” as they tried to push their way inside the Capitol. Others were heard asking about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s whereabouts. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Wednesday that she “had a very close encounter” in the building “where I thought I was going to die,” adding that she didn’t think it was an exaggeration to say that “many, many members of the House were nearly assassinated.”
Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz announced Friday that his office is launching a review of the department’s preparation for the protests and response to the assault on the Capitol.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.