On Friday, federal prosecutors backed off their claim that the government had “strong evidence” that showed the unruly mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol last week intended “to capture and assassinate elected officials.”
The initial allegation was made in a court filing supporting the detention of Jacob Anthony Chansley, also known as Jake Angeli, as he awaits trial. The 33-year-old Arizona man reportedly calls himself “QAnon Shaman.” The Department of Justice identified him as “one of the leaders and mascots of QAnon,” which prosecutors described as a group that “preaches debunked and fictitious anti-government conspiracy theories that a deep state is out to take down the current administration.”
Chansley has emerged as one of the most recognizable participants from the January 6 breach mainly due to his eccentric costume, which included red, white, and blue face paint and a fur headdress with Viking horns. He also carried an American flag attached to a 6-foot wooden pole, topped with a spear. He was charged with civil disorder, obstruction of an official proceeding, disorderly conduct in a restricted building, and demonstrating in the Capitol building.
The court document had cited “Chansley’s own words and actions at the Capitol” as proof of an assassination plot. It said Chansley “acted on conspiracy theories” and referenced a “threatening” note he reportedly left on the Senate Chamber dais, where Vice President Mike Pence had been presiding just minutes before.
“It’s only a matter of time, justice is coming,” the note read.
The Washington Post reported, however, that Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Allison later asked that the line alleging rioters sought “to capture and assassinate elected officials” be stricken from the record. Allison said it “may very well be appropriate at a trial” but could “mislead the court by discussing the strength of any specific evidence” related to Chansley’s intentions.
Okay here it is: Allison asks to strike the line referring to an intent by the rioters "to capture and assassinate elected officials." He says it "may very well be appropriate at a trial … and may very well characterize the evidence and his intent that day" pic.twitter.com/ozDwBMo7yF
— Zoe Tillman (@ZoeTillman) January 15, 2021
Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Michael Sherwin, the head of the investigation, had clarified earlier on Friday that there was “no direct evidence at this point of kill-capture teams and assassination.”
Still, U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah Fine went on to order Chansley jailed until his trial, concluding he is a flight risk and poses a threat to the community. The motion said Chansley wanted to return to Washington for Joe Biden’s inauguration. NBC News reported, however, the document “did not specify what statements by Chansley indicate that intent, nor do the actual charges against him make any reference to that intent.”
According to The Associated Press, “Sherwin said there appears to have been confusion among some prosecutors in part because of the complexity of the investigation and number of people involved.” The outlet noted, “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.’”
Chansley’s lawyers maintain he did not engage in violent or dangerous conduct at the Capitol and “was merely there acting as a protester.”
As The Daily Wire previously reported, Chansley is requesting a pardon from President Donald Trump, claiming the president effectively “invited” him into the Capitol.
During an interview with CNN on Thursday, Chansley’s attorney, Albert Watkins, denied accusations that his client stormed the Capitol building.
“My client did not break into the Capitol,” said Watkins. “My client had the doors to the Capitol held for him by Capitol Police. My client did not shroud his face in secrecy; he wasn’t wearing a bulletproof vest. My client was not armed. He didn’t have zip ties. My client fought, or was in the military, served honorably. No criminal background whatsoever. And he, like a lot of other disenfranchised people in our country, felt very, very, very solidly in sync with President Trump. They felt, he felt, like his voice was for the first time, being heard.”
Prosecutors accused Chansley of having “apparent mental health issues.”
“The fact that we had a bunch of our traitors in office hunker down, put on their gas masks and retreat into their underground bunker, I consider that a win,” Chansley reportedly said last week.
According to CNN, “Chansley’s case eventually will move to the federal court in DC.”
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