Capitol rioters planned to capture and kill politicians, say prosecutors
Federal prosecutors have offered an ominous new assessment of last week’s siege of the US Capitol by Donald Trump’s supporters, saying in a court filing that rioters intended “to capture and assassinate elected officials”. Prosecutors offered that view in a filing asking a judge to detain Jacob Chansley, the Arizona man and QAnon conspiracy theorist who was photographed wearing horns as he stood at the desk of the vice-president, Mike Pence, in the chamber of the US Senate.
The detention memo, written by justice department lawyers in Arizona, goes into greater detail about the FBI’s investigation into Chansley, revealing that he left a note for Pence warning that “it’s only a matter of time, justice is coming”.
“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.
A public defender representing Chansley could not be immediately reached for comment. Chansley is due to appear in federal court on Friday.
Prosecutors and federal agents have begun bringing more serious charges tied to violence at the Capitol, including against a retired firefighter, Robert Sanford, that he hurled a fire extinguisher at the head of one police officer and another, Peter Stager, accused of beating a different officer with a pole bearing an American flag.
In Chansley’s case, prosecutors said the charges “involve active participation in an insurrection attempting to violently overthrow the United States government”, and warned that “the insurrection is still in progress” as law enforcement prepares for more demonstrations in Washington and state capitals.
They also suggested he suffered from drug abuse and mental illness, and told the judge he posed a serious flight risk.
“Chansley has spoken openly about his belief that he is an alien, a higher being, and he is here on Earth to ascend to another reality,” they wrote.
The justice department has brought more than 80 criminal cases in connection with the violent riots at the US Capitol last week, in which Trump’s supporters stormed the building, ransacked offices, and in some cases attacked police.
Pro-Trump mob chases lone Black police officer up stairs in Capitol – video
Many of the people charged so far were easily tracked down by the FBI, which has more than 200 suspects, thanks in large part to videos and photos posted on social media.
Michael Sherwin, the acting US attorney for the District of Columbia, has said that while many of the initial charges may seem minor, he expects much more serious charges to be filed as the justice department continues its investigation.
Bill Cassidy, the Louisiana Republican senator, predicted on Sunday morning that Donald Trump will not be the party’s nominee for president in 2024, pointing to the number of seats lost by Republicans in the House and Senate over the four years Trump was in office.
Donald Trump on Sunday launched his attempted political comeback, teasing a possible run for the presidency in 2024 and denouncing Joe Biden for “the most disastrous first month of any president in modern history”. The former president made his first speech since leaving the White House at the rightwing Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida, to an effusive reception. Trump claims, entirely falsely, that he actually won the 2020 election but was fraudulently denied his victory.
Militia groups involved in the 6 January insurrection want to stage another attack around Joe Biden’s upcoming address to Congress, aiming to “blow up” the complex and kill lawmakers, the acting chief of the US Capitol police has warned. In alarming testimony to a House subcommittee, Yogananda Pittman said that threats were circulating that directly targeted the president’s first formal speech to a joint session of Congress. A date for the event has not yet been announced.
The theme of the 2021 Conservative Political Action Conference is “America Uncanceled.” But this week, just days before CPAC was set to kick off in Orlando, Florida, conference organizers announced they’d had to cancel one of their own scheduled speakers. “We have just learned that someone we invited to CPAC has expressed reprehensible views that have no home with our conference or our organization,” CPAC organizers tweeted Monday, referring to right-wing social media figure Young Pharaoh.