Prosecutors said the QAnon Shaman was one of the rioters who meant to 'capture and assassinate elected officials' before walking back the claim

  • Justice Department prosecutors said people who participated in the pro-Trump attack of the US Capitol planned to "capture and assassinate elected officials."
  • They made the assessment in a detention memo for Jacob Chansley, also known as the QAnon Shaman or Jake Angeli, who they say left a threat for Vice President Mike Pence.
  • The top prosecutor overseeing the Capitol insurrection cases, however, said a day later there was no "direct evidence" about assassination plans.
  • Chansley evaded Capitol police and went to the dais where Pence stood, leaving a note that said "it's only a matter of time, justice is coming," according to court documents.
  • He later told FBI agents that Pence was "a child-trafficking traitor" and that he planned to return to Washington, DC, for President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration.
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Some of the people who participated in the pro-Trump attack of the US Capitol intended to "capture and assassinate elected officials" including Vice President Mike Pence, according to federal prosecutors.

Department of Justice prosecutors made the assessment in a detention memo for the QAnon Shaman, who goes by Jake Angeli but whose real name is Jacob Anthony Chansley. The court filings were reviewed by Insider and first reported by Reuters.

Michael Sherwin, the top prosecutor overseeing Capitol riot cases, tried to walk back the claim Friday. In a press conference, he said "the justice department didn't have "any direct evidence of kill capture teams."

Prosecutors in Chansley's case said he should be held in jail while awaiting trial, arguing that his erratic behavior made him a flight risk and his massive following in the QAnon community allowed him to quickly raise enough money to flee.

Chansley is one of its most visible followers of the false QAnon conspiracy theory, which holds that President Donald Trump is fighting a "deep state" of cannibalistic, pedophilic devil-worshippers. He stormed the Capitol while shirtless and wearing large horns, fur pelts, and war paint, carrying a 6-foot-long spear.

The insurrectionists, at the urging of President Donald Trump, tried to stop Congress from counting the electoral college votes that confirmed President-elect Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election. Normally a routine event, the counting process was overseen by Pence and involved both houses of Congress.

Chansley isn't the only person involved in the riot that the Justice Department has singled out. Officials have also accused retired Air Force officer Larry Rendall Brock Jr. of targeting government officials during the insurrection. He was photographed carrying zip-tie handcuffs while storming the Capitol building's chambers.

"He means to take hostages. He means to kidnap, restrain, perhaps try, perhaps execute members of the US government," Assistant US Attorney Jay Weimer said in a Texas court Thursday, according to the Associated Press.

'It's only a matter of time, justice is coming'

Prosecutors cited specific details from Chansley's invasion of the Capitol building on January 6 to argue that he should remain in jail.

Chansley was one of the first to enter the building, they said, and "used his bullhorn to communicate that they were there to take out several United States congressmen."

"Chansley was using his bullhorn to incite [the crowd]," prosecutors wrote. "Because the Capitol building is cavernous, the sound of Chansley's voice over the bullhorn carried to different areas of the building."

Read more: 'It was degrading': Black Capitol custodial staff talk about what it felt like to to clean up the mess left by violent pro-Trump white supremacists

After evading Capitol Police officers, Chansley entered the Senate chamber and ran up to the dais where Pence was presiding moments earlier, according to the documents.

There, he wrote a note for Pence saying: "it's only a matter of time, justice is coming," prosecutors said.

"Chansley said that he was glad he sat in the Vice President's chair because Vice President Pence is a child-trafficking traitor," prosecutors wrote.

When the FBI questioned Chansley about the letter, he "went on a lengthy diatribe describing current and past United States political leaders as infiltrators," according to prosecutors, singling out Pence and prominent Democratic politicians.

"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.

Five people were ultimately killed in connection with the Capitol riot. Prosecutors said Chansley's "status as a symbol of the insurrection" should be factored into the judge's decision over whether to keep him behind bars while awaiting trial.

"At this juncture in our Nation's history, it is hard to imagine a greater risk to our democracy and community than the armed revolution of which Chansley has made himself the symbol," they wrote.

Chansley planned to go back to DC for Biden's inauguration, prosecutors say

Prosecutors also said Chansley intended to return to Washington, DC, for President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on Wednesday if he's released. Many layers of law enforcement have mobilized in preparation for violence, including deploying 20,000 National Guard troops in the city.

Chansley was arrested on January 8 after he drove to the FBI field office in Phoenix, Arizona, to follow-up on a phone interview with agents.

He had plans to drive to the Arizona State Capitol afterwards, prosecutors said, and had his costume in his car.

Chansley's detention hearing for the charges against him is scheduled for later Friday afternoon.

In a press release Thursday, Chansley's attorney said he was simply acting upon Trump's instructions, and that Trump should pardon him.

"The words and invitation of a president are supposed to mean something," the attorney, Albert Watkins, said. "Given the peaceful and compliant fashion in which Mr. Chansley comported himself, it would be appropriate and honorable for the president to pardon Mr. Chansley and other like-minded, peaceful individuals who accepted the president's invitation with honorable intentions."

Watkins didn't immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

Chansley also drew widespread attention after refusing to eat while jailed. His mother said he only eats organic food, leading to him being widely mocked online.

Following a court hearing earlier this week, David Gonzales, US Marshal for the District of Arizona, told ABC15 that he would provide Chansley organic food.

Judge Deborah Fine, who's overseeing Chansley's arraignment, issued an order Tuesday to make clear that she had nothing to do with the accommodations made for Chansley's diet.

"The Court did not order any specific diet for Mr. Chansley," Fine wrote. "The Court trusts that the United States Marshal and Mr. Chansley's attorney have already or will communicate about the appropriate course of action regarding any legitimate dietary needs Mr. Chansley may have."

This article has been updated.

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