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Capitol Rioters Intended to ‘Capture and Assassinate Elected Officials,’ Prosecutors Say

Pro-Trump protesters storm the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., January 6, 2021. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

Rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol last week did so with the intent to “capture and assassinate elected officials,” federal prosecutors said in a new court filing.

In a memo requesting that “QAnon shaman” Jacob Anthony Chansley be kept in detention, Justice Department lawyers in Arizona wrote that “strong evidence, including Chansley’s own words and actions at the Capitol” show that the intent was to harm elected officials. 

Meanwhile, prosecutors in Texas court have alleged in a separate case that a retired Air Force reservist who carried plastic zip tie-like restraints on the Senate floor had possibly intended to restrain lawmakers.

Chansley, who is set to appear in federal court in Arizona on Friday for a detention hearing, gained widespread notoriety for dressing as a Viking – wearing a headdress and face paint and carrying a six-foot spear — inside the Capitol during the breach.

“He loved Trump, every word. He listened to him. He felt like he was answering the call of our president,” Chansley’s attorney Al Watkins said Thursday in an appearance on CNN. 

“My client wasn’t violent. He didn’t cross over any police lines. He didn’t assault anyone,” he said, adding that Chansley is hoping for a presidential pardon.

In an interview with National Review last week, Chansley, an avid believer in the wide-ranging QAnon conspiracy theory, called himself a “true patriot that believes in the founding documents, that believes in our founding principles.”

“I have no concern, whatsoever, what happens to me, because I will not live on my knees, and I will not allow my country to be ruled by lesser men,” he said.

Prosecutors say Chansley wrote a note saying, “it’s only a matter of time, justice is coming” after standing at the dais where Vice President Mike Pence had stood the morning of the unrest. 

He told the FBI his intent was not to threaten Pence, though he called the vice president a “child-trafficking traitor.”

Ahead of his arrest, Chansley told the FBI he hoped to return to Washington to protest the inauguration.

Prosecutors say Chansley suffers from mental illness and is a regular drug user.

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