US prosecutors now believe supporters of President Donald Trump planned to “capture and assassinate elected officials” in their siege of the Capitol building last week, according to a new court filing.
The filing, submitted by Justice Department lawyers late Thursday, sought the detention of Jacob Chansley of Arizona, the QAnon conspiracy theorist pictured in the riot dressed as a horned shaman at the desk of Vice President Mike Pence.
United by political grievances, they came in costumes, snapping selfies, calling themselves patriots. Some came armed for battle and planning for “war.”
As authorities begin to charge the rioters in the Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol, court documents paint a picture of a diverse mob that included both citizens with mainstream careers – police officers, a flower shop owner, a state lawmaker, military veterans, even an Olympic medalist – as well as Americans on the fringe. One was a member of the Proud Boys, a far-right extremist group. Another had a caveman costume beneath a police bulletproof vest. One served time in prison for attempted murder.
They traveled from as far as Hawaii to join the protest of Congress certifying Democrat Joe Biden’s election win, which Republican President Donald Trump has falsely claimed resulted from widespread election fraud. Some brought all manner of weapons or explosives, underscoring the grave threat from an insurrection that resulted in five deaths, including a police officer, and dozens of injuries.
Federal prosecutors have said they expect to bring charges against hundreds of people involving the riot and related threats and violence. They had charged about 80 as of Thursday, a Justice Department spokeswoman said.
“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 said of the January 6 siege. They said Chansley, 33, left a note for Pence at the dais in the Senate Chamber where the second-in-command had been standing just minutes before, which read: “it’s only a matter of time, justice is coming.”
The filing gives further insight into the FBI probe on the day of chaos at the center of American democracy, which left elected officials holed up fearing for their lives and at least five people dead, including one police officer.
Meamwhile, he center of Washington was in lockdown Thursday as more than 20,000 armed National Guard troops were mobilized following the deadly assault on the Capitol and the threat of more violence at the presidential inauguration of Joe Biden. Police Chief Robert Contee said the US capital was facing “a major security threat” after supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol building a week ago in a violent bid to block Biden’s confirmation that left five people dead.
A day after Trump was impeached in Congress for allegedly supporting the assault, more barriers were being erected and razor wire laid as part of precautions ahead of the January 20 ceremony. Most of downtown Washington was off-limits to traffic, drawing comparisons to Baghdad’s high-security “Green Zone.”
The Secret Service, in charge of security, was weighing an unprecedented shutdown of the entire National Mall, the grassy spread where hundreds of thousands traditionally gather to celebrate the inauguration of a new president.— AFP