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Pro-Trump supporters who stormed US Capitol aimed to ‘capture and assassinate elected officials’, say prosecutors

Anthony France
·4-min read
<p>Donald Trump supporters confronted by US Capitol Police officers outside the Senate Chamber</p> (AP)

Donald Trump supporters confronted by US Capitol Police officers outside the Senate Chamber

(AP)

Some of the the pro-Trump mob that stormed the US Capitol last week aimed to “capture and assassinate elected officials”, prosecutors have said.

The revelation came in a motion federal prosecutors filed late on Thursday in the case against Jacob Chansley, the Arizona man who took part in the insurrection while sporting face paint, no shirt and a furry hat with horns.

They suggested that investigators believe there was a much more organised effort to spread chaos in Washington, despite claims from rioters that it was a spontaneous outburst of anger over the election and President Donald Trump's loss.

Mr Trump had been repeating baseless claims of election fraud for weeks.

Prosecutors said that after climbing up to the dais where Vice President Mike Pence had been presiding moments earlier, Mr Chansley wrote a threatening note to Mr Pence that said: "It's only a matter of time, justice is coming."

Prosecutors said that while Mr Chansley said the note was not meant as a threat, “the government strongly disagrees”.

Mr Pence and congressional leaders had been ushered out of the chamber by the Secret Service and US Capitol Police before the rioters stormed into the room.

Gerald Williams, Mr Chansley's attorney, did not respond to requests for comment earlier on Friday. A detention hearing was scheduled in his case for later in the day.

Nancy Pelosi singled out a ‘punk’ photographed in an Auschwitz shirt during last week’s attack on the US CapitolGetty
Nancy Pelosi singled out a ‘punk’ photographed in an Auschwitz shirt during last week’s attack on the US CapitolGetty

Mr Chansley, who called himself the "QAnon Shaman" and has long been a fixture at Trump rallies, surrendered to the FBI field office in Phoenix on Saturday.

Photos show him at the riot shirtless, with his face painted and wearing a fur hat with horns, carrying a U.S. flag attached to a wooden pole topped with a spear.

QAnon is an apocalyptic and convoluted conspiracy theory spread largely through the internet and promoted by some right-wing extremists.

Mr Chansley told investigators he came to the Capitol "at the request of the president that all `patriots' come to D.C. on January 6, 2021." An indictment unsealed on Tuesday in Washington charges him with civil disorder, obstruction of an official proceeding, disorderly conduct in a restricted building, and demonstrating in a Capitol building.

Speaking on Friday, an emotional House Speaker Nancy Pelosi denounced pro-Trump supporters behind the deadly Capitol riot, singling out a “punk” photographed wearing a shirt that read “Camp Auschwitz”.

The top Democrat told a press conference: “To see this punk with that shirt on and his anti-Semitism that he has bragged about, to be part of a white supremacist raid on this Capitol, requires us to have an after-action review.”

The image of his shirt referencing the Nazi concentration camp drew widespread condemnation on social media.

Robert Keith Packer, a Virginia man identified as having worn the Nazi-linked shirt, has been charged with unlawful entry and disorderly conduct.

Mr Trump became the first American president in history to be impeached twice this week after inciting his supporters with baseless claims of widespread voter fraud in an attempt to delegitimise Joe Biden’s election win.

Nancy Pelosi speaking at a press conference on FridayAP
Nancy Pelosi speaking at a press conference on FridayAP

The House of Representatives voted 232-197 to impeach him on Wednesday, moving at lightning speed one week after violent loyalists stormed the Capitol, egged on by the president’s calls for them to “fight like hell” against the election result.

Ten Republicans joined Democrats who said Mr Trump needed to be held accountable and warned ominously of a “clear and present danger” if Congress left him unchecked before Mr Biden’s inauguration on January 20.

It was the most bipartisan presidential impeachment in modern times, more so than against Bill Clinton in 1998.

The Capitol insurrection stunned and angered politicians who were sent scrambling for safety as the mob descended.

On Friday, Ms Pelosi announced retired Army general Russel Honoré will lead a review of Capitol security.

The speaker would not say when she would transmit the article of impeachment to the Senate.

Once the Senate receives the article, the chamber must begin a trial to determine whether the president should be convicted.

The trial will likely conclude after Mr Biden has taken the oath of office, but a conviction would prevent Mr Trump from running for president again.

Ms Pelosi said it was possible that members of Congress could face prosecution if it is found they “aided and abetted” the violent attack on the Capitol.

“If in fact it is found that members of Congress were accomplices to this insurrection,” the Democratic speaker said.

“If they aided and abetted the crime, there may have to be actions taken beyond the Congress in terms of prosecution for that.”

Her comments came after Democratic Mikie Sherrill, of New Jersey, said she saw politicians leading groups on “reconnaissance” tours of the Capitol a day before the riot.

More than 30 Democrats have signed a letter, spearheaded by Ms Sherrill, seeking more information about the tours that took place at the Capitol.

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